Packers president Mark Murphy: Length of preseason 'an issue'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mark Murphy knows there's a problem with the NFL preseason. The Green Bay Packers president just isn't sure there's a palatable solution.

Murphy, who is a member of the league's competition committee, said there have been discussions about shortening the preseason from its current four-game format, but that it's unlikely to happen in the near future.

The problem is the possibility of expanding the regular-season schedule to 18 games is all but dead, and NFL owners would be opposed to losing a game, even if it's a preseason contest.

"I think with all the concern about player health and safety, it would be difficult to go from 16 regular-season games to 18," Murphy said Monday. "One of the things that has kind of been looked at is, do we reduce the number of games overall [to] three preseason games and 16 regular-season games? But obviously there's a loss of revenue that comes with that."

The Packers have discussed variable-pricing models for tickets in large part because the cost of preseason games, which have the same face-value price as regular-season games, is out of whack.

However, because the Packers have two season-ticket packages (the second came about when the Packers pulled games out of Milwaukee after the 1994 season), they have not adopted that plan, which Murphy said is now being used by the majority of NFL teams. Murphy said the Packers ranked 18th out of 32 teams in average ticket prices last season (down from 17th the previous year).

"At the league level, we continue to study the preseason," Murphy said. "Those of you that have been around the league for a long time, it's changed dramatically. The way the players train in the offseason, the preseason games are just significantly different. The fourth [preseason] game, very few starters across the league play. They're all on Thursday.

"So there are some that look and say, 'Why do we play that game?' The flip side is it's a chance to look at and make some roster decisions on younger players [and] develop some players. But it is an issue within the league."