Packers fans aren't just fans. Many are shareholders and, consequently, feel entitled to be a part of certain "official" team functions, especially those of the celebratory variety. To them, the ring ceremony isn't a whole lot different than attending the annual shareholders meeting, such as the one held last summer at Lambeau Field.
But to the Packers, it is very different. To the Packers, it is supposed to be something that only players, coaches and front-office staff members should share together without the presence of anyone who isn't part of the "family" as it exists inside the confines of the team facility. They're citing "past practices" as a reason to go with the private ceremony.
This likely wouldn't be an issue if it came up with the 31 other teams that operate as private businesses.
The Packers have an issue. It might not be a big one, but it exists because of their unique situation. For instance, there is nothing else in the NFL -- or any sports league, for that matter -- like the Packers' shareholders meeting. Shareholding fans gather in the stadium to hear from team president and CEO Mark Murphy, general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, who are on a stage in the middle of the field.
The team's decision-makers don't reveal any trade secrets, but the mere presentation is enough to make the shareholders -- many of whom arrive early in the morning and tailgate as if they're awaiting the kickoff of a game -- feel special. I realize that the team wants the players, coaches and staff members who will receive rings to feel special, too, and that privacy might help ensure as much.
Still, there's a part of me that also wonders, particularly during these frustrating times of lockout limbo, if it would have been possible to at least involve the shareholders so they could feel that added sense of attachment to their favorite team.