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Mike McCarthy’s Ego Jeopardizes Packers’ Season

“Every decision we make is in the best interest of improving all aspects of our program.” That’s what Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy said in trying to justify releasing veteran guard Josh Sitton over the weekend.

Okay, coach, emotions have cooled somewhat in the last five days, so let’s consider how this scandal — let’s call it what it is — will affect the team’s program.

McCarthy has just broken up one of the finest offensive lines in football — and the best unit in recent memory for the Packers. This almost certainly includes the loss of T.J. Lang at the end of the year. The organization informed him and Sitton on the same day during training camp they were not priorities for contract extensions.

Josh Sitton was the senior member and unquestioned leader of the offensive line. Not only is that group dispirited by the stab in the back, the entire team is in disbelief. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels took a risk when he bemoaned Sitton’s departure: “That guy made me better. I think he made all of us up front better. I’m going to miss him, but it’s just the league.”

But the league didn’t do this. One guy with one big ego did it. And he did it to a guy who gave his all to the team. Remember 2014, when Sitton couldn’t even practice for much of the year due to a torn ligament in his big toe? But there he was every Sunday, performing at an All-Pro level.

Sitton’s departure puts Aaron Rodgers at greater risk of injury. I believe Sitton allowed 2.5 sacks over the last THREE years. I doubt anyone else in the league can match that performance, and Lane Taylor sure isn’t about to. The passing game as a whole can’t help but suffer with the loss of this superb pass protector. How does this help the program?

McCarthy did all he could to humiliate Sitton. A trade could obviously have brought a valuable return, but instead the coach and general manager cast Sitton off with the 20 or so mostly undrafted wannabes on the roster cutdown date. The other obvious option was to let Sitton play out his contract and leave as a free agent next year. How does it help the Packers to not get a high compensatory draft pick next year as part of the league’s free agency formula?

What about team morale? In the short term, we know the whole locker room was stunned, upset, and just plain pissed off. In the longer term, however, teammates now know loyalty is a one-way street in Green Bay. I even believe some players will think twice before considering any move to join this team, and serve under this coach.

Everyone talks about how the NFL is a “business,” but this wasn’t a business decision — it was vengeance by a wrathful ego that can’t cope with the mere suggestion that he could be wrong.

We have all witnessed what’s happened at team press conferences in the last few years. They are no longer amiable affairs when the head coach is at the podium. They have become tense and edgy, with reporters likely to be ridiculed or bullied if they ask a question that ruffles the coach’s feathers.

Coach McCarthy has very intentionally conveyed a clear message to all team members and team employees: you are laborers, pure and simple, who serve at my pleasure. You are all expendable, you dare not criticize or question anything I do. And forget that crap about team unity, team bonding and team loyalty — you had best be loyal to us, but we owe no loyalty to you.

The slogan “it’s my way or the highway” is painfully accurate at Lambeau Field. For Josh Sitton, the highway was U.S. 41, which took him straight south to the Chicago Bears. How sad and undeserved for this great teammate, Pro Bowler, and future Packers Hall of Famer — though that might have to wait until Mike McCarthy hits the highway.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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21 Comments

  1. ay hombre September 7, 2016

    It is very likely that Josh Sitton questioning Mike McCarthy was an ever-escalating and non-stop occurrence. From Sitton questioning McCarthy in the press probably led to underhanded comments mumbled to veteran teammates in locker stalls. From there maybe a rookie picks up on it and wonders what’s so funny. Are they talking about the head coach?

    And soon it becomes so comfortable and such a common occurrence that Sitton says it in front of the wrong person who then lets the coach know. From there the result is predictable. Anyone who does not believe in the program and the leadership in front of them must be removed from the situation, right?

    Maybe. But maybe just maybe this is a head coach and regime which has never been questioned enough. And although one way to look at this is you must remove a locker room cancer as soon as possible, the other way to look at it is this head coach DESERVES to be questioned and has deserved to be questioned for some time. The way this team reacts will be very interesting.

    Anyone remember when a long-tenured groundskeeper got shit-canned by McCarthy for uttering something under his breath about the Packers laying an egg?

    The question that now remains and the answer we will soon find out is whether Josh Sitton was the only one not on board with the leadership or if we are about to see a coupe and the end of Mike McCarthy’s reign in GB.

    1. Chad Lundberg September 7, 2016

      From what I’ve read from Pete Dougherty, it sounds very much like Josh Sitton was becoming a persistent non-stop problem for the coaches. It’s even suspected that he would bring up his contract situation even while in the middle of a team meeting, and wasn’t afraid to embarrass the coach. And this reportedly has been going on for YEARS. It sounds like there may have been something that happened that was simply the final straw for them. You can’t have someone in the locker room telling everyone else that the coaches shouldn’t be taken seriously because they don’t us seriously. The rookies will follow suit, and before you know it, have the locker room no longer listens to the coach.

      Honestly, I wish we had the real info on just wtf happened.

      1. PF4L September 7, 2016

        I’d like to read what you read from Dougherty on this. Can you link?

        1. PF4L September 7, 2016

          But even if true, he’s only here for one more season… so just deal with it and keep your eye on the goal. You don’t remove an experienced All-Pro- Pro-Bowler, with a guy who struggled in pre-season with 2 NFL games under his belt.

        2. Howard September 7, 2016

          PF4L:
          I think Chad is referencing a Dougherty chat transcript at Packernews.com. See copied portion. To me it is just speculation, with maybe and I repeat maybe some source info. Dougherty never says it is source info. There was a lot more to the chat with several Sitton question. The response to 2 or 3 questions were similar to below:

          Question:
          I just can’t shake this icky feeling surrounding the Josh Sitton release. I just don’t feel like the Packers have given themselves the best possible lineup heading into Sunday’s game. As fans, we still don’t know if it was a locker room issue, contract, injury, performance. It’s a diseased situation that has clouded my excited for the season. Please tell me you reporters are still digging or convince me to watch the game Sunday.

          Pete Dougherty
          Yes, we’re still checking into it, and maybe something more will emerge. But as I said earlier, the core of it makes sense. Though it never leaked out the last few years, it sounds like the team thought he was uncommonly difficult to deal with and in a way disruptive. He was one of the top couple guards in the league so they weren’t going to part with him at that point. Then by last year the back issues had taken a toll, and though he’s a good player he wasn’t the top guy he’d been (don’t go by the Pro Bowl and All-Pro awards; offensive linemen usually start getting them a year or two after they’ve become a top player, and then continue to get them on reputation for a year or two after they’ve slipped). Then the team said he was lower on the contract-extension list, and that might have triggered a worsening of the relations still. Maybe there also was another incident later in camp, that I don’t know. But the team said enough was enough and felt he’d be too much of a problem for a player who was starting to decline. They didn’t see the difference between him and Lane Taylor as being prohibitive, so they made the move. We still are digging and more might come out, but that’s the core story from what I can tell.

          1. Howard September 7, 2016

            If this is from a team source, and I have no idea that it is, it is to provide cover at Sitton’s expense. I find it very hard to believe even if true or partially true that any GM or coach in Professional football does not deal with type A+ personalities constantly. If there are not 53 type A+ personalities on your 53 man roster then I say you need to get rid of those who are not. If as a GM or coach(s) you cannot deal with intense and passionate players then get the hell out of the room and go to your safe space. Well I guess Ted already has. Ted make any comments yet on Sitton? Any Ted sightings?

          2. PF4L September 8, 2016

            Thanks Howard,
            I can only take Green Bay Gazette sports reporters in very small doses, the way each and everyone of them acquiesce to the Packers damn near makes me physically ill. Take this for example…..

            Pete Dougherty
            “Yes, we’re still checking into it, and maybe something more will emerge. But as I said earlier, the core of it makes sense.”

            The core of it, makes the least sense, to me anyway. And what exactly makes sense to Dougherty, McCarthy saying this move was in the best interest of the team?

        3. Chad Lundberg September 8, 2016

          Howard got it right, I was referring to Pete Dougherty’s chat questions. Found it a little interesting because seems, at least to him, that there was so discontent between the player and the coach(es) and possibly Ted Thompson. Link: http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/chat/2016/09/07/chat-pete-dougherty-2-pm-wednesday/89960894/

      2. Deepsky September 8, 2016

        I’ve listen to a lot of talk radio on the Packers over the internet and there have anonymous callers who said Sitton was bringing the team down. I doubt it would be Packer management who would call in to talk radio. If you have ever heard Sitton’s weekly interviews on WSSP, I could see his ego being conflicting with the coaches.

        1. PF4L September 8, 2016

          i doubt anonymous callers to talk radio have the real low-down. Even if true, these are men with ego’s, i don’t care if McCarthy had a knock down drag out fight with Sitton. You put your differences aside for the good of your team for one season, you put your big boy pants on. You don’t run and cry to Ted. The best way to resolve it is to weaken your team?

          And where is Mark Murphy in all this? Isn’t he the President of the Packers? Oh….i almost forgot, Murphy said he doesn’t question anything Ted does. Maybe Murphy is too busy taking pictures of the construction across the street, so he can show his grandchildren the picture’s when they visit. Why don’t they change Murphy’s job title to what he actually does…Director of Title Town District Development. Then…hire an actual President of the Green Bay Packers.

          At the end of the day, whether it was Mike or Ted who initiated this, the bottom line is that it doesn’t get done without Ted’s blessings.

          Then to top it off, we have James Campen, who is playing the perfect McCarthy sheep.

          This circus of playoff failure every year, personnel failure, pompous disrespectful arrogance to Packer fans, and air of unaccountability and superiority has run it’s course. I can’t say it enough. The day McCarthy is gone, and Ted is gone is a day i will regard as a great day, and they can take that do nothing Director of Title Town District Development with them.

          1. Empacador September 8, 2016

            Thank you for bring up Campen. How much did he play into the musical chairs on the line at the end of the season last year?

    2. Killer September 7, 2016

      My God, Ay Hombre, I owe you an apology. I thought you had to be making up a cruel joke about the alleged groundskeeper and that it was unfair to frame MM that way. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware MM is a coward (Brandon Bostick) and petty and vengeful (Josh Sitton). But there are many levels of “bad person” and I thought what you had made up was a whole new level and not appropriate.

      Well, I take that rush to judgement back. Looked it up. You are 100% right though it was even worse than you recall. Those who want to see what kind of despicable, arrogant, and psycho person is coaching the Packers and how the whole organization readily caters to his psychotic control-freak whims they can read the hole story here:

      http://archive.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/69932532.html

  2. PF4L September 7, 2016

    Good article Rob, you’ve touched on not all, but a lot of the point’s i’ve made about the negative impact this move brought on. The more you think about this move, the more negative impacts one comes up with, all the while not discovering the(any) positive’s, most likely because none exist.

    I don’t know if it was Ted or if it’s Mike who deserve’s all the heat here. But i do know one thing for fucking sure. whoever’s bright idea this was originally, the other should have had the good sense to tell the other, it’s a stupid move, ANY way you look at it.

    My guess is it was Ted’s idea, and messenger Mike went along with it. Obviously this was instantly a huge story, were now more than 4 full days past it, and it’s still a huge story. So i ask this……Where the fuck is Ted? Is he taking a nap? Does he have the do not disturb sign on office his door? Too busy looking at film from a 2nd year 3rd string QB he’s high on from Tulane? How about stepping in front of a microphone Ted? Why are you hiding?

    But i guess expecting Ted to be accountable for a huge issue of his making and expecting him to answer to the Packer fans who have supported this team by contributing over 100 million dollars for a piece of paper, is just asking too fucking much….it’s just not the Ted Thompson way. Sorry if i offend anyone, but here are my true feelings……..

    Fuck Ted Thompson and anyone who looks up to this coward.

    I don’t have a problem with making a move, but shouldn’t it be for a sound logical “good” reason? Well, we don’t know….Mike says nothing, and Ted wont talk. Mike talking about growth, what’s best for the team….is standard issue. Matter of fact, i wrote almost exactly what he would say in a post i made before his press conference.

  3. Empacador September 7, 2016

    I’m glad someone else finally noticed. McCarthy’s ego has been on display for YEARS. I said several months ago this isn’t solely Ted Thompson, McCarthy has to sign off on the players with the team. I wonder what the excuses will be if the Packers fall short yet again this season due to some bonehead decisions from the coaching staff. 11 years of learning on the job is enough.

    1. Empacador September 8, 2016

      In the recent article “No One Will Discuss Josh Sitton” Mordecai stated it appears McCarthy wanted Sitton gone more that Ted. Quoted from that article “I will say this,” Thompson added. “Josh Sitton is a heck of a football player and a good teammate. He’s one of the better picks I’ve ever made.” That would seem to confirm if Thompson has that kind of praise for the man whose ego is being catered to here.

  4. Zwoeger September 7, 2016

    As I cited Lewis Carroll in the reset practice squad topic I want to ad:
    Get rid of that queen and his protégé I want finaly jam now.

  5. Sanguine camper September 7, 2016

    Not only is TT stupid for cuthing Sitton, he is also a coward for hiding from the media and leaking unsubstantiated innuendo about Sitton’s alleged locker room problems to cover his horrible decision. Not only did TT sabotage the season, I think that it could down in history of turning the franchise into another long run of nuclear winter. MM cowardly went along with TT and has now lost his team for good. They will never play hard for him.

  6. PF4L September 8, 2016

    Reporter: Mr Murphy…in light of the recent situation that has Packer fans clamoring for answers, could you give us your thoughts on the Sitton situation?
    Mark Murphy: I would love to share with you my thought’s on that. But unfortunately i’ve been really busy overseeing the construction across the street. You’ll have to ask Ted about the Sitton situation, as he is the one who signs off on that kind of stuff. Frankly, he’s the football guy, like i’ve said in the past, i don’t 2nd guess or question anything he does. I’m only the President of the Packers. so yea, you’ll have to talk to Ted.

    Reporter: But we haven’t seen Ted since Aug.30th
    Mark Murphy: Come to think of it, neither have i. Listen, i have to go, the lunch wagon just pulled up.

  7. Empacador September 8, 2016

    You know, after re-reading this article, Rob really seems to have nailed every point perfectly. If McCarthy was the catalyst, then they could have tried to trade Sitton way earlier than they did. Since he went to the Bears anyhow, you don’t think the Bears would have gladly accepted Sitton’s contract and then thrown in an extension or renegotiated the contract once he got to Chicago? They paid him more than he was getting from the Packers. And if the Packers claim they didn’t want to deal him to a division rival, well, good job assholes! How did that work out?

    When they finally did cut him, instead of doing it separately, the Packers tossed him in the the shit pile with the rest of the castoffs. As stated in the article, to humiliate Sitton. Imagine them treating Favre like that. Someone who actually deserved it.

    And always remember, Matt Flynn had the balls to leave via free agency. I did a little digging and I was slightly wrong in my recollection about how this unfolded. It was McCarthy in 2013 who was happy with his QB room the way that it was, rather than re-signing Flynn and getting him up to speed. October 7th, 2013 comes this: “Personally, I’m very happy with the quarterback room, the way it looks, the people in it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday, via ESPN.com. “Obviously Matt was a Packer, very fond of Matt and his time here. As far as any roster moves and things like that, I really don’t have any comment on, but I do like Seneca Wallace. I like what he’s done since he’s been here. I feel very good about our quarterback room.”

    It was only after McCarthy’s master plan failed when he was forced to sign Flynn and start him. From JSOnline December 13, 2013: “I just had history with Matt. There’s an experience level. We were in a tough spot.” Where was that thought process back at the beginning of October dumbass? You know, when you were very happy with your quarterback room? The Packers could have easily won 2 more games had they had a competent QB, which Seneca Wallace never was.

    This was from an article written November 10th, 2008 http://www.packernet.com/blog/2008/11/10/pin-these-two-losses-on-the-coach/ Basically saying the same things that have been mentioned about McCarthy over and over throughout the years. I thought this was pretty interesting. “If you don’t think the coach makes that big of a difference look no further than one of the teams the Packers lost to you this year – the Atlanta Falcons. Other than the rookie QB, the coach was the big change and look at the results. Going into the season I thought the Packers had one of the up-and-coming coaches in the NFL, I’m not saying that isn’t true after nine tough games, well, seven anyway, but I’m seeing some of the same stubbornness that doomed Mike Sherman in the end.” Seems like all the coaches named Mike have had massive egos. McCarthy’s hubris more than likely is coming home to roost after this debacle. Riding the coattails of 2 HOF QBs and 1 Superbowl win in spite of himself. What a waste of Rodgers’ career.

    1. MMTTDCSUCK September 9, 2016

      This ^^^^

  8. rebelgb September 13, 2016

    LOL I love idiot writers who use the old “just to set an example that everyone is expendable…” Look, most these guys are worth MILLIONS of dollars AND if they are even half way good, like Sitton, they will just sign with another team if you cut them, and likely even at more pay than when you cut them, AS WAS Sittons case. The idea that MM or TT “scared” a bunch of millionaires by showing them they could be shown the door at any time is a joke. An absolute laughable joke. Stop writing such nonsense. None of these guys are suddenly “unemployed” if you cut them. It isnt like me losing my job. They will have a new one the next day. Noones life is being destroyed. God you people….