Apparently, McCarthy was not thrilled with the way the team handled the situation at the end of last season and his firing. It was probably a humiliating experience to go out in such a state of stagnant mediocrity after having so much prior success in his career. As we mentioned in January, McCarthy has no professional plans for next year other than the occasional buffet and being with his family. Despite that, I doubt we’ve seen the last of him.
Coming tomorrow on https://t.co/LfG3qW2TGU, I talked with Mike McCarthy in his first interview since he was fired. In a Q&A, he discusses the firing — “It couldn’t have been handled any worse’ — plus Mark Murphy’s complacency claim, his relationship with Aaron Rodgers and more. pic.twitter.com/O1WdjVSfGx
Here is an excerpt of the interview transcript in which he discusses his dismissal from the team:
Before we talk about next year, I want to go back to last season because you haven’t spoken yet about how it ended. Did you have any indication what was coming before Mark Murphy called you in to give you the news?
McCarthy: Frankly, no I did not. As a head coach, I’ve always tried to stay immune to and stand in front of all the outside noise. That was always my focus with my players. It was always to protect them as much as possible from the drama. I think that’s important. And I stayed true to that to the last day. If we missed the playoffs, I expected change might happen. But the timing surprised me. Actually it stunned me. But time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that’s where I’m at now. And it’s clear to me now that both sides needed a change.
McCarthy: I go back to really the first thing my wife said to me, the first moment Jessica and I were alone and talking about what happened. She said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m relieved for you.’ I kinda gave her a look. And she said, ‘The last two or three years, you haven’t been here physically or mentally. Every family loses their husband, father during the season, but you’ve been gone the last two off-seasons. I know you’re not happy with the way things were going there, and it’s beat the hell out of you. It’s beat the hell out of you the last couple of years. It’s been hard to watch it.’ That was a couple hours after I got home, and that was the reality, that was the reality that I had to identify with, and that was real.
The ending, many people thought you deserved a better ending. Do you agree?
McCarthy: Obviously. It couldn’t have been handled any worse. Anytime you lose a close game, it’s a difficult time emotionally afterwards, but when you lose a home game at Lambeau Field in December, it’s really hard. And that hasn’t happened very often. I walked out of my press conference, and I’m thinking about the game, thinking about how our playoff shot was now minimal. That’s where my head was at. And when I was told Mark Murphy wanted to see me — and the messenger was cold and the energy was bad. Mark said it was an ugly loss, and it was time to make change. He said something about the offense and the special teams, and he didn’t think it was going to get any better. There was no emotion to it. That was hard.
Every time I released an individual, you get your words right. There’s a personal component to it. You know he has a family. He’s family. There wasn’t any of that. So that was off. The way people leave that building was very important to me. That’s a part of the business. Hopefully moving forward for guys like Clay [Matthews] and Randall [Cobb] and Nick Perry and Jordy Nelson and T.J. Lang, it’s important for them to leave the right way. That way represents the Green Bay Packers standard that I tried to uphold every day.
That exit, frankly, Rob, the exit really stuck with me for a while. It was hard to swallow. The emotional challenge of shifting from humiliation to reflection was a very important step in seeking clarity so I could personally grow from the experience of my entire Green Bay Packer career; that’s what I wanted to get to, not just the ending of it.
But hey, I’ll never forget the response after because I put my phone away [that night]. I woke up, and I could not believe my phone. When we won the Super Bowl, I received over 200 texts. That week, I had over 500. I got more than twice as many messages for getting fired than I did when I won the damn Super Bowl. It’s remarkable. They were from current and former players, competitors, owners of other NFL teams, politicians, media members, guys I competed against that I had never even talked to. I was blown away by it and still am.
When the topic moved to Aaron Rodgers and reports of his complacency, McCarthy had this to say:
In football, there are things that are said on the sideline that stay on the sidelines for players and coaches alike. As far as that situation, I honestly am not aware of it. Aaron has always been heavily involved in game-planning each week and scheme design each year. I entrusted him and empowered him more than any other quarterback I’ve ever been around, especially at the line of scrimmage. […] As far as coaching him, I’d use a lot of words. He’s challenging, very rewarding and fun. We had a lot of fun. Some of my greatest one-on-one conversations, accomplishments, adjustments and adversity we fought through have been with Aaron.
Mike McCarthy’s advice to new head coach Matt LaFleur:
Having been through all this, what advice would you give to your successor, Matt LaFleur?
McCarthy: Matt LaFleur. Totally embrace the Green Bay community with your family. It’s a phenomenal place to live. It’s a phenomenal place to raise a family. You know that, Rob [Demovsky]. Heck, coach your ass off, have fun and enjoy the honor because it goes fast. Enjoy the honor of being the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Make the program your own. That’s very important. You were hired here for a very good reason; don’t get too far away from that. You have a great group of men in that locker room. I think they’re special, and they’ll work their butts for you.
Nothing too controversial from the interview – just a chance for McCarthy to speak his side and get some closure. I have no doubt that he enjoyed his time with Green Bay, but as he said, it was time for both him and the team to move on.