Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, right, looks on during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Saturday, July 30, 2011. General Manager Ted Thompson is at left. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Mike McCarthy is normally a no-nonsense, nose-to-the-grindstone, get-down-to-business kind of guy.
But the Green Bay Packers' coach gave us a brief glimpse of his softer, rarely-seen emotional side during his Saturday press conference before the start of training camp.
McCarthy was reflecting on his hectic schedule of the past week, which included the 4½-month NFL lockout ending, players reporting for practice and final preparations being made for training camp. In the midst of all that, McCarthy’s wife Jessica gave birth to a baby girl — Isabella Conroy — on Thursday night.
“Personally, there’s nothing like it,” said McCarthy, who needed to pause and compose himself for a moment. “I don’t want to start crying up here. Long night. Need some sleep. Too emotional. It’s been awesome.”
This is not a new, touchy-feely version of the Packers’ head coach. He always has cared deeply for his family as well as his players. We just haven’t seen him display his emotion in public.
While success has a way of changing people, it doesn’t seem to be affecting McCarthy.
“Same old guy,” offensive lineman T.J. Lang said of McCarthy after the coach addressed his team Saturday morning. “He’s very enthusiastic. He’s happy to be back in football. You can definitely tell by listening to him talk today. He pumps the guys up, makes us all happy to be back.”
There is no evidence that winning a Super Bowl six months ago has gone to McCarthy’s head. Rather than an inflated ego, McCarthy shows the same humility he did five years ago when he opened Packers training camp as a first-year head coach.
McCarthy said he intends to remain consistent and be himself. There will be no phony motivational ploys or mind games to light a fire under his team. “I think that’s garbage,” he said.
Instead, it will be business as usual, which means there will be a heavy emphasis on fundamentals and making every day and every practice count.
“There’s nothing really to gain from being the champion last year,” McCarthy said. “This is a whole new journey. This is a whole new football team. We’re at the bottom of the mountain just like everybody else is right now.”
The Packers’ stirring title run last season will not soon be forgotten, and the spoils of victory that included a diamond-studded championship ring ceremony last month was a hoot.
But that’s in the past, and McCarthy plans to live in the present.
“It’s about climbing, it’s about growth, it’s about competing to get better every single day,” he said.
It’s the same message he has been preaching to his players all along.
“Nothing’s changed,” safety Charlie Peprah said of McCarthy. “If anything, he’s more hungry now than he was last year.”
While winning another championship is the clear goal, it isn’t McCarthy’s only motivator.
“The excitement for me is to get up in front of the team,” McCarthy said. “Last night was exciting to talk about the daily practice schedule. Just to get going again. I love the game of football.”
That passion for the game rubs off on his players, who appreciate his consistency and share his vision.
“It’s all about the next challenge,” McCarthy said. “Super Bowl XLVI, that’s what we’re chasing.”
And if he can show a little emotion on that journey, more power to him.
Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.