Former Packers vice president Andrew Brandt:
As I know so well from my near-decade of living Green Bay and working for the Packers, change is rare there, and when it does happen, it moves at a glacial pace. Not only are the Packers’ headquarters on Lombardi Avenue, but it often felt like as if team and the entire community were still living in an era when Vince Lombardi roamed the Packers sideline, a simpler time with the innocence of a bygone era.
Against that backdrop, the Packers’ firing of Mike McCarthy last week with four games remaining in the 2018 season was antithetical for a franchise and community often loathe to change. Having worked directly with Mike for three years, I will take you behind the Green and Gold curtain.
Ted Thompson had come back to Green Bay (he worked there for years before) from the Seahawks in 2005 to become general manager, relegating then-head coach and general manager Mike Sherman to a coach-only role. For that entire season I witnessed a tense relationship between Thompson and Sherman, especially after we took Aaron Rodgers—a player who would not help us short-term—in the first round of the 2005 draft. Sherman’s fears about Thompson wanting “his own guy” to be the head coach were realized following that season, as he and his staff were dismissed.
Thompson led the subsequent head coach search, with input from his trusted personnel assistants John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie and, to a lesser extent, myself. After interviewing a list of candidates that included Ron Rivera, Brad Childress and Wade Phillips, we settled on two finalists: Mike, the 49ers’ offensive coordinator at the time, and Sean Payton, then the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach of the Cowboys. Both had creative offensive minds, leading fascinating schematic conversations that would make a football junkie’s heart skip a beat.