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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
BBAO: Packers' Tailgate Tour rolls on

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

During the lockout, the NFL has prohibited any contact between team officials and players. Except when it doesn't.

An example of the latter occurred Tuesday, when Green Bay Packers CEO/President Mark Murphy set out on a five-day bus caravan with three players: guard Josh Sitton, linebacker Desmond Bishop and quarterback Matt Flynn. The league exempts charitable events, such as the Packers' sixth annual Tailgate Tour, from its lockout rules.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson saw the players off on the bus, apparently making small talk, but Murphy made clear he wouldn't avoid the topic of the lockout during the bus ride.
Murphy: "I'm going to interact with the players. We'll have a good, open discussion. Obviously with my background having been a player, having worked for the union and been a player rep, I can talk a lot about the issues. So I'm looking forward to it."

This exception would be objectionable if McCarthy or other football officials were taking the trip. They are not. The NFL Players Association might fear the potential for propaganda talk from Murphy, but I doubt they have anything to worry about considering all three players -- Sitton, Bishop and Flynn -- are smart and unlikely to be swayed.

Continuing around the NFC North: