Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 12/9/11

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell watches teams warm up prior to the start of Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Have no fear, Packers shareholders: the NFL will not be looking to fine you any time soon. When the franchise launched its fifth-ever stock offering Tuesday, it gave fans an opportunity that only the publicly owned Green Bay Packers can provide by allowing any adult in the United States to become a minority owner in the team for 250. Although the team does not allow any individual to purchase more than 200 shares - therefore preventing someone from ever gaining any sort of controlling interest - the league is technically still holding those who purchase any number of shares to the same standards as every other NFL owner. At least that's what the fine print says. According to the terms and conditions that every purchaser agrees to, the NFL has the right to fine Packers shareholders up to 500,000 for publicly criticizing the league, its officials and teams. Plus, commissioner Roger Goodell also has the right to fine shareholders up to 5,000 if they are caught betting on any NFL games. Those actions would also lead to the shareholder being stripped of his or her ownership in the team. But apparently the NFL isn't exactly waiting to rain down punishment on the next Packers shareholder to Tweet about bad call or a put a little money down on his fantasy team. "We have had no issues in the past with Packers shareholders and don't anticipate any in the future," a league spokesman said Friday. "This is the same language that was in the 1997 offering." It took less than 60 hours for the Packers to sell 185,000 stock certificates, totaling 43 million raised for the team's Lambeau Field expansion plans. In the first 11 minutes they went on sale, 1,600 were sold, and there was so much traffic on the website (Packersowner.com) that it slowed nearly to a halt. In that haste many purchasers were in once they navigated through the site, not everyone read the fine print that they agreed to. Those who did read it weren't too concerned, either. "They've been around for so many years, I'd like to have any evidence of them revoking anyone's stock," said new shareholder John Rehor of Wheeling, Ill. "I could care one bit less about the worst-case scenario if they fine someone. Do I expect Goodell to fine me a half million dollars? No." The reason for the relaxed rules - despite the stern warning - is that Packers shareholders don't really own stock in the team. More of the fine print listed states that "stock in the Packers does not constitute an investment in 'stock' in the common sense of the term" and that "anyone considering the purchase of Packers stock should not purchase the stock to make a profit or to receive a dividend or tax reduction or any other economic benefits." Yet fans quickly surpassed the financial goal of 22 million presidentCEO Mark Murphy hoped to reach. "This is something I've wanted since 1997," said new shareholder Colin Wiesner of Oak Creek, Wis. "I didn't read the fine print too closely on the website. I was pretty convinced that anything happening to me would be a rare possibility." The overwhelming sentiment from Packers fans is that the harsh warnings and threats of major fines are simply not a concern. They aren't about to change the way they enjoy the NFL. "I can understand maybe in the off chance someone starts a rally (bashing the NFL) or something and it starts gaining steam and a large following, then maybe I can see (Goodell levying a fine)," Wiesner said. "But criticism about players and coaches or teams on Twitter or to friends, I don't imagine the league has someone spying around every corner." So, while Packers shareholders don't necessarily have to be on their best behavior at every moment, the possibility of a fine from the NFL - at least technically - is a possibility if the good folks in Goodell's office ever get really, really bored. Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
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