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Mike Vandermause column: McCarthy a relative bargain among highly paid coaching colleagues

May 19, 2012
 
Although the Packers won’t release coach Mike McCarthy’s salary information, he reportedly signed a five-year, $32.25 million deal soon after winning the Super Bowl last year.
Although the Packers won’t release coach Mike McCarthy’s salary information, he reportedly signed a five-year, $32.25 million deal soon after winning the Super Bowl last year. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media

It is believed Vince Lombardi’s final salary was $110,000, which seems like a bargain for the greatest coach in NFL history.

When adjusted for inflation, that works out to slightly more than $700,000 in today’s economy, which pales in comparison to current NFL coaching compensation.

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots is the highest paid professional coach, according to Forbes Magazine, with a $7.5 million annual salary.

Other NFL coaches reaching the $7 million salary plateau include Seattle’s Pete Carroll, St. Louis’ Jeff Fisher and Washington’s Mike Shanahan. Rounding out Forbes’ list of top-paid NFL coaches, which was released this past week, are Chicago’s Lovie Smith ($6.0 million), Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt ($5.8 million), Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin ($5.8 million) and Philadelphia’s Andy Reid ($5.5 million).

New Orleans’ Sean Payton would have made the list at $7 million if he hadn’t gotten slapped with a yearlong suspension for his involvement in the Saints’ bounty scandal.

Noticeably absent from Forbes’ salary estimates were the last two Super Bowl winning coaches: the New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin and the Green Bay Packers’ Mike McCarthy.

Coughlin is believed to be earning about $5.25 million per year, a pittance for someone with two Super Bowl title notches on his belt over the past five seasons.

As for McCarthy, it’s possible Forbes underestimated his earning power based on credible reports that his annual salary is actually $6.45 million.

Although the Packers won’t release McCarthy’s salary information, he reportedly signed a five-year, $32.25 million deal soon after winning the Super Bowl last year. The Packers wisely locked up McCarthy through the 2015 season, and while his salary is enormous compared to the common man, it’s the price of doing business in the most popular sport in the country.

In fact, it can be argued McCarthy is underpaid compared to some of his coaching brethren residing in the exclusive $7 million club.

Shanahan won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1990s but his recent record suggests the game has passed him by, with the Redskins bumbling to an 11-21 record the past two seasons. It wouldn’t be the first time Redskins owner Dan Snyder vastly overpaid someone based on sizzle rather than substance.

Fisher had a long run in Tennessee but never won a Super Bowl and missed the playoffs five of his final seven seasons. He hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2003 season, but that didn’t stop the Rams from loading up the Brinks truck and dropping a large pile of cash on his doorstep.

Carroll is 14-18 in two seasons in Seattle with just one playoff victory to show for his bulging wallet.

Even the highly decorated Belichick, considered the gold standard in the business, is going on eight years without a championship.

Since 2009, Belichick and Payton are the only coaches with better regular-season records (37-11) than McCarthy (36-12). The numbers for the other highly paid coaches during that span range from solid to spotty, including Tomlin (33-15), Reid (29-19), Coughlin (27-21), Smith (26-22) and Whisenhunt (23-25).

Only Payton and Coughlin can match McCarthy’s four playoff victories over the past three seasons. And besides the Packers,only the Patriots, Saints and Baltimore Ravens under John Harbaugh have earned post-season berths the last three years.

Some critics blame McCarthy for the Packers’ mistake-riddled, one-and-done playoff loss to the Giants in January, and ultimately the head coach must accept responsibility.

But on the flip side, it’s astounding McCarthy guided the Packers to a 15-1 regular-season record with the worst defense in the NFL. That alone should have garnered some coach-of-the-year recognition.

No one in the Packers organization would admit this, but the fact General Manager Ted Thompson drafted six defensive players last month with his first six picks was an admission that he didn’t give McCarthy enough defensive weapons last season.

McCarthy has proven that with enough firepower at his disposal, he’s as good as any coach in the league. And he’s worth every penny the Packers are paying him.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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