Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Mark Murphy, Mike McCarthy emerge from G.M. search with bigger roles

Brian Gutenkunst, Mark Murphy, Packers Brian Gutenkunst

Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy, right, introduces the NFL team’s new general manager, Brian Gutekunst, during an introductory press conference in Green Bay, Wis., Monday, Jan. 8 , 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


The G.M. search and significant organizational restructuring that it triggered in Green Bay has created various winners. Unlikely victors as a result of the decision to replace Ted Thompson with Brian Gutekunst are CEO Mark Murphy and head coach Mike McCarthy.

Six days ago, Murphy said that the new G.M. would have the power to hire and fire the coach. On Monday, Murphy told reporters that he, and not Gutekunst, will supervise the coach and have the power to make changes, if and when changes are necessary.

The goal of the unexpected adjustment to the power structure is, per Murphy, to improve internal communication. The team president spoke of “silos” that have developed in the organization, causing periodic “breakdowns” in communication in recent years.

It’s odd that Murphy came to this epiphany in the handful of days since proclaiming that the G.M. will continue to supervise the coach. Did Murphy know as of last week that it was heading this way, or is this his way of justifying after the fact the unexpected shift?

It could be the latter. McCarthy made a public power play on Thursday, talking openly about the importance of a “fit” with the new G.M., and sending the not-so-subtle message that he could choose to walk away before the new G.M. runs him off. With Russ Ball, who also emerges from this search with a new title and greater authority, previously on track in the opinion of some to be the new G.M., McCarthy’s comments may have been calculated to ensure that Ball didn’t become the new G.M. and that, ultimately, no one other than Murphy would have the ability to control and direct McCarthy’s employment.

Murphy explained that the job previously performed by Thompson will be split between Gutekunst and Ball, which means that, although both of them are getting more authority, no one is getting Thompson’s complete authority. Which also means that Murphy and McCarthy have emerged with, relative to everyone else, more authority.

And even though it was believed that Murphy wanted Ball, Murphy experienced a sea change at some point since creating the impression that the goal was to simply replace Thompson and eventually doing something very different than that, engaging in a dramatic overhaul of the power structure -- one that gives McCarthy a bigger role and that throws Murphy more directly into the fray.

Previously, Murphy had a firewall between his role and any actual football accountability. Now that he’s serving as the boss of the coach, which will include as Murphy said supervising “game plan, games, coaching positions. everything that’s under the head coach’s control,” Murphy is in line for much more credit when things go well, but much more blame when things go poorly.