Less than a month after winning his final championship with the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi stepped down as head coach.
Less than two years after guiding the Packers to a Super Bowl championship, Mike Holmgren departed for a job with the Seattle Seahawks.
In light of that team coaching history, there was good news for the Packers on Monday, the day after they captured the Lombardi Trophy by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.
Coach Mike McCarthy, who matched Holmgren by leading the Packers to a championship in his fifth season, said he isn’t going anywhere.
“I would hope this is my last job,” said McCarthy during the traditional Monday morning Super Bowl post-game press conference with the victorious head coach. “I’m a builder and we have built something special. This program was built the right way, has quality people in Aaron Rodgers and all the way through that are going to lead this football team for a long time. So I would definitely hope this is my last job.”
McCarthy looked a little tired after a long night of celebrating the Packers’ first championship in 14 years, but he couldn’t hide a contented smile.
McCarthy clearly was the NFL’s best coach this season. He led a team that was saddled with injuries to the mountaintop. Along the way he instilled confidence, refused to accept excuses, demanded accountability and never stopped trusting his players and their ability.
“Mike doesn’t like to hear this, but he is a player’s coach,” said Rodgers on Monday at the Super Bowl MVP press conference. “He thinks there’s a negative connotation there. To me it means he allows for input from his guys on a number of different levels and obviously he has final say, but he allows his staff to coach, he allows the players to have input.”
General Manager Ted Thompson saw something special in McCarthy, who was a relatively unknown assistant coach five years ago when he was hired.
“I liked him as a person,” said Thompson in the Packers’ victorious locker room at Cowboys Stadium Sunday night. “I thought he had a lot of grit.
“I wasn’t hiring an X’s and O’s guy. There are a lot of people who can do that. I was hiring the man. I think he’s a good man. To be in a position like that, you have to know what buttons to push with different players. You have to understand people well. I thought all along he’d be good at that and he has been.”
McCarthy joins an elite group of NFL head coaches with Super Bowl championships on their resume.
Sometimes success like that can change a person’s ambitions. Holmgren, for example, wanted to add player personnel decisions to his coaching duties, which led him to Seattle.
Former Packers President Bob Harlan doesn’t think McCarthy is wired that way. He believes the professional bond between Thompson and McCarthy could keep the Packers’ power structure intact for the foreseeable future.
“I think they work very well together,” said Harlan. “The key is to have a great working relationship. We lost that the one year (former coach) Mike Sherman was here, the one year under Ted. But Ted got his own man.”
McCarthy was asked whether he slept with the Lombardi Trophy Sunday night, as previous Super Bowl winning coaches Sean Payton and Mike Tomlin had done.
“My wife is too good looking not to sleep with her,” replied McCarthy. “I didn’t sleep with the trophy.”
Beyond the humor, his words could be interpreted to mean he won’t allow success to undermine his core values or change who he is as a person.
That no doubt is something Thompson noticed when he hired McCarthy.
“He’s an honest man,” said Thompson. “One thing you have to be with players is you have to be honest. You never lie to them or it’s over, you’re done. I know that from being a player. Mike’s very honest.
"Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily make him feel good, if they’ve had a bad practice or something’s amiss. But he stays on top of things and his staff does a good job and he’s a good coach.”
Best of all for the Packers, he plans to stick around and continue doing his job.
Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette.