Mike McCarthy Makes His Return to Lambeau

On December 2nd, 2018, the struggling Green Bay Packers lost to another struggling team in the Arizona Cardinals to fall to 4-7-1 on the season. Before time expired on that game, I finally admitted to myself that it might be time for a coaching change. I liked Mike McCarthy as coach of the Packers and never wanted him to leave, but it was finally time. Sure enough, not too long after the game, Mike McCarthy was fired after 13 seasons with the Franchise.

Rewind the clock to the start of that era. The Packers were coming off their worst season in 14 years after going 4-12 in 2005. Mike Sherman was ousted after five years, and the Packers were ready for a new era. GM Ted Thompson decided to bring in Mike McCarthy, the former San Francisco Offensive Coordinator to be coach of the Packers. The reception wasn’t exactly glowing at the time.

McCarthy didn’t exactly have an amazing track record at the time. From 2000 to 2004 he was the Offensive Coordinator of a New Orleans team that seemed good on paper but did nothing but underachieve. He was then the coordinator of a 49ers Offense that was called the league’s worst offense in a decade. So why the heck would Ted Thompson hire a guy with such a dismal reputation as Head Coach?

The Favre Era

As it would turn out, Mike McCarthy was exactly what veteran QB Brett Favre needed to get back to his All-Pro status. Favre later admitted that Mike McCarthy was kind of a hot head. He would challenge everyone, every time, no matter what. For a Quarterback entering his 16th season, this was a pretty good kick in the pants that he couldn’t just sit back and get by on his past accomplishments. 2006 might have been an adjustment year, but the Packers went 8-8 and narrowly missed the playoffs. Then in 2007 Brett Favre had a rejuvenation where he returned to All-Pro status for the first time since 2003 and came one unfortunate overtime mistake from returning to the Super Bowl. A lot of this was credited to McCarthy’s leadership.

Growing Aaron Rodgers

While Mike McCarthy’s apparent “hot headedness” was good for a veteran QB like Favre, it was also perfect for a young up and comer like Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has often credited McCarthy’s offseason Quarterback school in his early years as a major contributor to his development. Rodgers stated earlier this week that he will always have gratitude towards coach McCarthy for all his attention to detail and his willingness to always listen.

Of course, who could forget Super Bowl XLV. Probably the crowning achievement so far of both Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy’s careers. Rodgers has talked about the fact that you never forget someone that you win a championship with. Before Super Bowl XLV, Mike McCarthy notoriously fit every player for their ring before they even played the game. That was the confidence he had in his team to win the game. That confidence certainly went a long way as the Packers overcame some injury adversity to still pull off a win to earn Green Bay’s 13th World Championship. In turn of course, this earned Mike McCarthy a street named after him outside Lambeau Field called Mike McCarthy Way. After all is said and done after Mike McCarthy’s career, he will surely be immortalized in the Packers Hall of Fame.

But he’s a Cowboy now

If you’re a Packer fan that remembers the 1990s, there’s no question that you still have no love for the Dallas Cowboys. Even at that, you might still dislike the Cowboys without the 1990s rivalry fresh in your head. Believe me, the last place I wanted to see Coach Mike end up outside the NFC North, was Dallas.

This season, the Cowboys are rolling on a 6-2 record. And that’s even with a backup Quarterback in 7 of those 8 games. Once Dak Prescott went down and was listed to be out 4-6 weeks, many ruled out the Cowboys. The fact that they’re still one of the top teams in the conference and in contention is a testament to Mike McCarthy’s coaching. I only wish the Packers could’ve accomplished this in 2017 when Brett Hundley was handed the reigns after Aaron Rodgers was lost to injury. But that’s neither here nor there.

Regardless of what colors he’s wearing I have to say I’m happy for Coach Mike. I always appreciated his philosophy and his demeanor during his time in Green Bay. His ways may have worn out their welcome on a Packers sideline, but it looks like the year off he took to self-evaluate himself really paid off.

I will be in attendance Sunday when Coach McCarthy returns to Lambeau Field and I have to say that I will be cheering for him as a person. I might be hoping the Packers somehow snap their five-game losing streak to upset his Cowboys, but I will be there to applaud everything he’s done for the Packers.

Mike McCarthy will forever be tied in history to the Green Bay Packers. We must show him our appreciation for all he did for the Franchise we love. However, after we applaud him returning to the field he coached on for 13 years, all pleasantries are cast aside. We want our Packers to beat his Cowboys and bring home a victory.

Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.

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