Cory's Corner: Packers Have No Transparency

Maybe you noticed, then again, maybe you didn't. 

The Green Bay Packers have been pulling back the reins on what the media has been allowed to cover.

I totally understand how important strategic decisions are in the course of a game. Obviously, coach Matt LaFleur would not be very happy if the local media taped Aaron Rodgers working on a Statue of Liberty play that the team has never used before. 

However, the team sent out an e-mail to media members recently saying that they cannot discuss and report the depth chart. The reason this is a joke is because depth chart discussions are the bread and butter of training camp. In all 32 training camps, there are plenty of position battles going on right now. Will Melvin Gordon or Phillip Lindsay start at running back in Denver? Will Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, Connor Williams or Tyler Biadasz start at center in Dallas? Will Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles win the starting quarterback job in Chicago?

Of course, those are just a small sampling, but they happen every season in every training camp.

Now Billy Turner has moved to right tackle, making a logjam there with Ricky Wagner, who signed a two-year, $11 million deal in the offseason.

"The changing landscape right now preseason, with no preseason games, no fans at our practices," said Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst during his Thursday Zoom press conference, who admitted it was his idea not to be transparent. "As we got into it, it just changed things. There are certain restrictions that are always placed on you guys as far as what you can and can't report...I just thought we were at a little bit of a disadvantage and I wanted to equal the playing field." 

First of all, there's a huge difference between reporting strategy and depth charts. What kind of a competitive disadvantage could there be if in fact Turner earns the start? Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has seen both Turner and Wagner and there is plenty of tape available for both.

And secondly, the Seahawks and Browns are livestreaming practices this year. Thanks to COVID-19, fans are still able to consume practice and notice what player or players are climbing their respective depth chart. 

Sadly, the group that this really hurts is the fans. This fan base is one of the most knowledgeable and loyal that I have come across. Reporters will find a way to figure out how to do their jobs, even though it has been getting trickier by the season because the Packers continue to covet controlling the message. But, the fans are the losers here because they are not getting transparent information and that's just not right. For an organization that prides itself on being the only franchise that is publicly owned, this is especially hurtful. 

With the way things are going, I would suspect that the Packers completely shut down training camp to outside media in the next 5-10 years and then disseminate that to media outlets. That way, they control every single message and can edit every piece of video and audio that will be handled by TV and radio stations. 

The Packers can claim that this was done just to win games, but they really did it just because they could. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (24)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
King_James's picture

August 22, 2020 at 07:09 am

Oh stop it! Don't try to bring the fans into it. This is just more media whining. Fans care about winning. Just win baby! The media are upset because of their holier-than-thou complex. This is no different then when a packer reporter threatened to tattle on Jimmy Graham, which would cause a fine for Jimmy, for not doing interviews. Get over it and do your simple job. The team comes first. We've heard enough whining about this already.

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stockholder's picture

August 22, 2020 at 07:35 am

I smell Agents. The battles can hurt the bargain power / career/ endorsements/ etc.

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CJ Bauckham's picture

August 22, 2020 at 08:13 am

Brian to agents: "yeah I just want to institute this policy to help you guys squeeze more money out of me when it's negotiation time. Sound good to you guys?"

~~~~~~

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rsmitty's picture

August 22, 2020 at 08:17 am

As a fan and shareholder I have zero problem with this policy for the upcoming season.

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marpag1's picture

August 22, 2020 at 08:32 am

Blah, blah.

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mrtundra's picture

August 22, 2020 at 08:45 am

I think it would suck to have to rely on Packers.com for any, or all, info about Packers players, coaches and team news, during a media blackout, at camp. They are always last to post news items that CheeseheadTV or TImesfour has already had up on their sites. You'd get the white bread version of what had occurred, too. With CheeseheadTV and Packers Times Four, you can count on more substance and grit in their reporting and they interact with their followers in ways Packer.com just doesn't do.

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Harold Drake's picture

August 22, 2020 at 09:09 am

I agree with the writer. It makes little sense to restrict basic training camp reporting. Teams will know soon enough which players are on the first unit, which players get cut, and where players stand on the depth chart. This is paranoid overkill.

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King_James's picture

August 22, 2020 at 09:50 am

If this gives us a 1% better chance of beating the Vikings week 1, then it is worth it. What are we really missing out on anyways? Who's in the drivers seat for starting RT? We can still get reports on who's making/not making plays and who's injured and not participating. That's good enough until the season starts.

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Bure9620's picture

August 22, 2020 at 09:21 am

I like the Belichick approach.....it sucks for fans and certainly for beat writers, but if in Gute's shoes many of us would do the same.......

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Lare's picture

August 22, 2020 at 01:48 pm

IMO, Gutekunst appears to be treating Training Camp the same way as he does the draft.

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GLM's picture

August 22, 2020 at 07:14 pm

That's a rather vague statement... what do you mean? Is it bad to hold your cards close?

On the other hand, do we really think we're pulling the wool over any franchise's eyes? They know who the starters are, for the most part.

Reporting on play-calling and alignments, now I can see how that might be detrimental to the team, but starters? I don't know.

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nostradanus's picture

August 22, 2020 at 09:48 am

Cory, does this suck for the die hard fans? You betcha

Will it help the Packers keep some talent hidden on the practice squad? Maybe

Will this directive from the Packers brass be temporary? Thats what Gute said

Is this a really weird time for all of us? um yes

Cory, B-R-E-A-T-H and it's all gonna be ok when the Packers win the Super Bowl this year

R-E-L-A-X

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Coldworld's picture

August 22, 2020 at 12:42 pm

If this is indeed a temporary measure as Gute has stated then I’m on board with it. It may seem petty, but if it levels the playing field then it makes sense. Regrettably.

If it is a Trojan horse to closed practices then I will be in the other side of the fence, as should the Executive Committee be. However, I se no evidence that this is, as Cory suggests, on its way.

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oceanstrength's picture

August 22, 2020 at 10:01 am

For Cory to suggest it is 'just because they can' is pure bias and presumption with sour grapes mixed in. He makes no case for his conclusion.
I would say it has everything to do with winning games: Belichick used it and it won him games. Poker players use it and it wins them games.
Transparency works in relationships not in competition. We fans want relationships with our teams, but media has become a poorer conduit for that as hype and tabloid coverage has grown.

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Stroh's picture

August 22, 2020 at 11:44 am

Its all about maintaining a semblance of competitive edge. Whether it means much in the long run is debatable, but if there is even a 1% rise is possibly winning a game I'm all for it.

To call the author (using that term loosely) and sort of media (use that even more loosely) is the joke! As usual this writer has proven he knows NOTHING!

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malta1099's picture

August 22, 2020 at 11:38 am

Wah! Wah! Wah! Every article Cory writes he knows better than Packers' management about everything. "They MUST do this and they MUST do that." I read everything on CHTV, but have started skipping the Cory articles this year. However, I made the mistake of reading this one. We just want winning football from the green and gold. As much of a Packers junkie that I am, I am fine not knowing the day by day camp intrigue of who's with the 1's and who's second string. Let's just get to some football.

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fansince1959's picture

August 22, 2020 at 12:59 pm

i completely disagree with the writer---i've always thought the press(and players) give too much "aid and comfort" to the enemy---we love your content but i much prefer winning games and to that end, would gladly suffer less media coverage

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Since'61's picture

August 22, 2020 at 01:56 pm

First, I think this is better than receiving false hype about this rookie or that FA only to see them cut before the season or to watch them flop during the regular season. So I don’t miss the hype and false expectations at all.

Second as a long distance fan it reminds me of the days long before the internet when my only life line into the Packers training camp
was the overdue arrival of The Packer Report in the mail.

The point is that the lack of a 24/7 information stream never dampened my enjoyment of the regular season or following the Packers via the print media and during the 70s/80s occasional televised game.

I’m actually enjoying the respite from the hype and sensationalism we receive at this time of the year. I just hope the team stays healthy to start the season. GPG! Thanks, Since ‘61

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13TimeChamps's picture

August 22, 2020 at 02:24 pm

Getting the Packer Report in the mail. That brings back some fond memories.

As far as this article goes....much to do about nothing.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 22, 2020 at 07:15 pm

Cory does have a point here. Pro football is first and foremost an entertainment industry. And feeding information to your fans keeps your product fresh and alive for them. And at this level competitive advantage is nonexistence with front office scouting and freelance video services all over the league. While Gutekunst is facing an unusual situation, this does go against existing Packer policy. Back in the first year of Ron Wolf's tenure, he to try to restrict reporter access, only to be publicly rebuked by Bob Harlan. The practices remained open. While the Packer GM may be doing this to sooth the ego of the head coach at the moment, it's wrong, and he knows it. This better not happen next year.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 22, 2020 at 07:38 pm

I should be clear it is my guess that Gutekunst is covering for MLF, based on how interactive and upfront with information with the local press he has been sine he was hired as GM. With how unusual the current situation is, there is a fairly strong case to be made with the compress training camp the Packers are going though. But Gutekunst and company decided not to make that case publicly, and by not doing so, they have only hurt themselves and the organization.

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

August 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Meh. This sounds like a personal rant. I have no problem with it. Things are just different this year. Gotta deal with it.

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CoachDino's picture

August 23, 2020 at 07:50 pm

I'm torn on this one as I'm much more interested in the Packers winning than I am what they are doing in practice. Like anything it comes down to cost benefit analysis.

To your point, some of it sounds like the cost is minimal and the benefit to the fans why not substantial is still part of being a fan. The example of Roster discussion is an excellent example.

The NFL is a business and these guys have their livelihood on the line so its tough to blame them for wanting as much control of their future as possible.

I mean whens the last time media helped the team? Contrast that with the havoc media has caused teams over the years. It's not a right or wrong judgement on media but again cost/benefit.

From a guy looking in from a distance it seems a few bad apples ruin it for the rest of the media. Hopefully there can be a win/win resolution as I do enjoy the job many in the media do and will miss both the observations and opinions of some of the better ones out there. Present company included.

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dorcassmith's picture

August 24, 2020 at 01:04 am

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