Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy doesn't strike me as a rogue NFL executive. So when he expresses an opinion on league matters, I'm inclined to believe it could reflect current thinking. That's why it's important to note two topics Murphy discussed Tuesday after the team's annual shareholder meeting.
First, Murphy said he no longer supports expanding the regular season to 18 games. Second, he questioned the motives of some players and the attorneys involved in the rapidly-growing concussion litigation directed at the NFL.
I'm on board with Murphy on maintaining the 16-game regular season, and frankly the NFL has boxed itself into a corner on the issue. The league's emphasis on player safety makes it awfully difficult, if not impossible, to justify a longer season and thus more opportunities for players to be injured and/or worn down. I have to believe this is a dead or near-dead issue.
As the league faces lawsuits from more than 2,600 players, according to the web site NFLConcussionLititgation.com, every point that supports its care for players will count. Still, I imagine the NFL will try chipping away against this legal monstrosity when it can. I viewed Murphy's subsequent comments in that context.
Asked about the concussion litigation, Murphy said he has been recruited by attorneys to join the lawsuit. He added: "It's a real concern. Unfortunately, the reality is the league, we're successful and profitable and you've got a lot of people looking at it and saying maybe there is a chance to get some money and to change things.
"In terms of the litigation, the former players, the concussions: First of all, if players have problems, whether it be concussions or injury, back, knee, whatever, and it's directly related to their participation in the NFL, we need to do everything we can to help them. But I would rather have those things resolved through working together than lawsuits."
Murphy said he gets letters and emails "almost on a daily basis" asking him to submit his name to the growing list.
"They're obviously not doing their research [about his current job]," he said. "It shows you there is an active market out there. The attorneys are almost shameless in how they're pursuing and marketing the lawsuits."
And that's where the concussion debate might be headed. There is nothing wrong with attorneys recruiting eligible litigants, but how many of those litigants joined without any history of concussions or current health problems? Is it reasonable to think it's a money grab for at least some? Or will this be an attempt to discredit a large group of genuinely aggrieved ex-players because of a few outliers? This story is only beginning.