Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has learned one of two things happen when someone experiences success.
“Some people change, some people don’t,” said McCarthy, who falls squarely in the latter group.
He’s a Super Bowl champion coach, earns a salary in excess of $5 million, is at the top of his profession and seemingly has the world at his beck and call. Yet his personality and the way he treats others hasn’t changed one iota from the day he was hired nearly six years ago.
Not a trace of arrogance, condescension or cockiness can be detected in his demeanor since the Packers won the Super Bowl eight months ago. McCarthy seems determined to never allow success go to his head.
“It’s important to me, and it’s important to my parents,” McCarthy said. “I think they’d be the first to tell me. Even more so my wife.”
As for the clout that comes with winning the Lombardi Trophy, McCarthy said with a smile: “I get a free coffee once in awhile at Starbucks.”
There’s also the possibility of getting a Green Bay street named after him, but beyond that, it’s been the same old McCarthy since winning the Super Bowl.
“I like to feel I’m the same guy I was when I arrived here,” he said.
Those who deal with McCarthy on a regular basis, including his players, assistants and members of the media, can’t argue with that assessment.
“I haven’t seen any change in Mike,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.
Defensive lineman Howard Green said: “Business as usual. When we’re on the field, it’s work. No jacking around.”
McCarthy remains a stickler for running crisp, up-tempo practices. But he also has gained a reputation for being a players’ coach.
“I think that he’s very straightforward and honest and fair as a coach,” nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “He’s the same person every day. He’s not going to come in and switch. I think that’s big. You know what you’re going to get.”
McCarthy is a master of X’s and O’s, game-planning and offensive strategy. But he will be the first to admit there’s more to life than football.
“My family is very important to me,” he said. “It’s the most important thing in my life.”
McCarthy can’t think of a better place than Green Bay to raise his family and work as an NFL head coach. He has a genuine appreciation for his job and has no desire to seek greater power or greener pastures.
The last Packers coach to win a Super Bowl before McCarthy was Mike Holmgren, who jumped at the chance to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and also have final say over personnel decisions.
McCarthy doesn’t plan to follow that path.
“I’m a football coach, and I want to remain so,” he said. “I don’t have the desire to try to do two jobs. I clearly think the personnel part of this business is a hard job and needs to have its full attention.”
Another common malady that affects head coaches is burnout. As an assistant coach climbing the career ladder, McCarthy used to sleep at the office twice a week and put in ridiculous hours.
“Sleep is for the weak, that used to be my motto,” McCarthy said. “What a (dummy) I was. I learned a lot of football, but that’s not the way to go in big-picture thinking.”
McCarthy said it’s a mistake to overanalyze and overprepare and put too much volume in game plans. He fell into that trap when he was younger but knows better now. A tired coach is less effective as a communicator and teacher, according to McCarthy.
“When that coach is on that practice field, he better have a lot of energy,” McCarthy said. “He better have a lot of juice. He’s not going to have that not sleeping four nights a week. I know what that feels like, I did all that stuff.
“Players need you fresh and they need you sharp.”
McCarthy is convinced he has the best coaching job in the NFL.
“I think the beauty of living in Green Bay and working for this organization, it’s really all about the team,” he said. “People respect that. They give you an opportunity to do your job. I don’t ever feel like it’s a burden. Success can be a burden, that’s been proven over time, but I don’t feel that to be the case.”
Some of his players seem convinced McCarthy is the best coach in the NFL.
“Everything is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Green, who has played on five NFL teams. “Everything is like a system. It’s been planned out. You can tell because it works, and the program and the system work. He’s a players’ coach, coaches’ coach. He’s a great coach. We look up to him. We appreciate him.”
Best of all for the Packers, some good things never change.
Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.