Mike McCarthy’s coaching career may be pretty well-known, but his personal story, filled with determination, hard work, initiative and perseverance is worth a second look. Here is a glimpse of his resume before he became the 14th head coach of the Green Bay Packers on January 12, 2006.

Michael John McCarthy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a fire fighter, a Pittsburgh police officer and a bar owner. McCarthy was raised as a devout Irish Catholic and Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

After graduating from high school he played tight end at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. He graduated with a degree in business administration and was an all-conference tight end his senior year.  Mike led his team to an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Division II national runner-up finish in 1986 and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2007.

McCarthy’s college coaching career began in 1987 when he was hired as a graduate assistant at Fort Hayes State. While there, he coached the linebackers for two seasons and earned a masters degree in sports administration in 1988. His goal was to be a college head coach.

In an effort to achieve that goal, McCarthy returned home after being hired by the University of Pittsburgh to be the Panthers next quarterbacks coach in 1989. While at Pitt he developed and worked with a starting quarterback by the name of Alex Van Pelt.

Under the tutelage of McCarthy, Van Pelt surpassed a few of Dan Marino’s University of Pittsburgh passing records. Coincidentally, Van Pelt is also a Pittsburgh native and is the current Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach.

In 1992 McCarthy coached the Pitt Panthers wide receivers. The NFL was taking note of this young assistant coach, who had a knack for working with young players and college quarterbacks. Some believe it is right around this time that an offensive guru was born.

It is worth noting that McCarthy didn’t make a nickel when coaching as an assistant at the collegiate level for years. He was a “volunteer.” In order to make ends meet McCarthy worked in a toll booth on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. However his “moon lighting” time would soon change for the better.

In 1993 Mike McCarthy finally made his move to the NFL and he has been in the league ever since. His first assignment was as an offensive assistant/quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs. An offensive assistant/quality control coach’s primary responsibility is to chart the tendencies of the opposing team’s defense and then report those tendencies to the appropriate position coaches.

In 1995 McCarthy would move up the Chiefs company ladder when he was promoted to quarterbacks coach. While at Kansas City, McCarthy worked with Chiefs quarterbacks Rich Gannon, Elvis Grabic and Steve Bono. Rich Gannon credits McCarthy for turning his career around, citing McCarthy’s natural teaching ability and his knowledge of the quarterback position. McCarthy would serve in this capacity until 1998.

Given his success with coaching quarterbacks, McCarthy was hired by the Green Bay Packers in 1999 to be their QB coach. He worked with Brett Favre that year. While working with McCarthy, Favre had his 4th best career year, throwing for over 4,000 yards.

Following the 1999 campaign, McCarthy bolted for the “The Big Easy” when he was offered the position of offensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints. With McCarthy at the helm, the Saints offense set franchise records for most points and touchdowns scored in a single season. Mike would serve in that capacity until 2004, gaining even more valuable experience and knowledge of the game.

In 2005 McCarthy headed for San Francisco where he would serve in the same capacity as offensive coordinator. The interesting tidbit here is that McCarthy was a part of the 49ers 2005 staff that passed on Aaron Rodgers in the first round and selected Alex Smith with the number one overall draft pick.

After serving as a college and NFL assistant coach since 1987, Mike McCarthy finally got his chance to be an NFL head coach in 2006 when he was hired by the Green Bay Packers to replace Mike Sherman. General manager Ted Thompson thought McCarthy was the “right fit” for the job.

Since becoming the head coach of the Packers, McCarthy has taken the team to the playoffs 7 of his 9 seasons. He enters his 10th year with Super Bowl aspirations on his mind. He already has 1 Super Bowl ring that he earned with Green Bay in 2010. His playoff record stands at 7 wins and 6 losses.

After beating Kansas City in Week 3, McCarthy’s current regular season career record is 97-49-1. As head coach, McCarthy has beaten every team in the NFL at least once during the regular season with the exception of the Cincinnati Bengals. He is 0-2 against the Bengals.

McCarthy’s niche as a coach is calling plays for the offense and teaching young quarterbacks and wide receivers the fundamentals and techniques of the passing game, emphasizing route running, timing and chemistry. In 2007 McCarthy was voted NFL Coach of the Year. Only in his early fifties, he is one of the more tenured head coaches in the league.

His experience and knowledge of the game speaks volumes to the long term success he has had as a quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and head coach. More importantly his experience and knowledge serves Green Bay well, because it has allowed the team to maintain continuity, stability and a winning attitude within the organization.

I guess determination, hard work, initiative and perseverance really do pay off.

Go Mike Go!


Todd Stelzel, a loyal Packers fan since 1966, is a contributing writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddStelzel for more Packer news.