Three days after being fired as the Green Bay Packers’ coach, Mike McCarthy was allowed to return to Lambeau Field to say good-bye.
“He spoke to the team yesterday and that was good,” team President/CEO Mark Murphy told WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee on Thursday. “I think Mike wanted some closure with the players and some of the other coaches to be able to thank them and say good-bye to them, as well.”
McCarthy was fired after Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Murphy had already decided to fire McCarthy, who was in his 13th season on the job, but the listless effort at home against a two-win team spurred Murphy into action.
Joe Philbin, McCarthy’s longtime friend and colleague, was elevated from offensive coordinator to interim head coach for the final four games.
“Mike came by the office, I think Tuesday we all saw him as a staff, which was great,” Philbin said before Thursday’s practice. “Then we talked, and he wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of, and he did a fantastic job talking to the team. Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident. I’m sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job.”
Philbin left the Packers to become Miami’s coach in 2012. He posted a 24-28 record before being fired four games into the 2015 season. Dan Campbell finished the season. Philbin wasn’t given a chance to say good-bye; he didn’t want that to be the case for McCarthy.
“That’s the Green Bay Packer way, right? This is a first-class organization all the way around. I think it’s been that way for 100 seasons, I would guess. I’m not that old, but I’m guessing it’s been like that for a long time. We do things the right way around here. Mark and Russ (Ball, the executive vice president of football operations) and Brian (Gutekunst, the general manager) were all totally supportive, they think that was the right thing to do, as did I. Hopefully it will help.”
About McCarthy’s firing WTMJ says:
Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy told WTMJ it was a difficult decision, but one he felt needed to be made.
“The way the season had played out, I just felt that we needed a change,” says Murphy. “It wasn’t anything particularly that [McCarthy] did wrong, I just felt that the message had become stale and we needed a new voice.”
Murphy added that he intended to make a change at the end of the season, so he felt it would be better for everyone to do so now rather than wait.
I’m sure in our cynical age no one will believe this:
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who became a two-time MVP under McCarthy’s watch, said he talked to McCarthy on Monday. On Wednesday, Rodgers refuted speculation that he helped get McCarthy fired.
“I don’t need to respond to every pundit out there,” Rodgers said on Wednesday. “I don’t know many times I’ve got to stand here and tell you, I don’t feel like I need to convince anybody about Mike and I’s relationship. It’s a close-knit relationship. We would finish every time that we talked, whether it’s Monday afternoon up in his office or the Thursdays we used to spend in the team room or Friday upstairs or Saturday in the QB room, and we’d hug each other and tell each other we love each other. I mean, we had a close-knit bond.”
(Pause while I recover from the psychic shock of the words “Mike and I’s relationship.”)
About “Mike and I,” Brian Jones (not of the Rolling Stones, because that Jones is now dead) reports:
There’s no doubt there was some tension between Aaron Rodgers and former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. However, McCarthy had nothing but great things to say about the two-time MVP before he was fired by the team on Sunday.
Laura Okmin of FOX Sports recently had a conversation with McCarthy and she asked him about his relationship with Rodgers. McCarthy said the relationship changed over time as they would normally talk for hours about the game plan and life. But that was 10 years ago and McCarthy told Okmin so much has changed since then.
“My mistake was getting away from those conversations and I wanted to fix that this year,”McCarthy said. We’ve been connecting three times every week now.”
“I feel the same about Aaron as a player that I always have. I’m so proud of him, but I’m even more impressed with him as a person. What he does outside of football is tremendous.”