D'Amato: McCarthy, Rodgers chase history

Gary D'Amato
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers  and head coach Mike McCarthy celebrate a touchdown during first quarter of the divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Winning one Super Bowl game as a coach or a quarterback places you among the best of the best and lands you a fat contract extension and TV commercials. Do it in Green Bay and they’ll name a street after you.

Winning two Super Bowls? Now that’s a fame-changer.

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are two victories away from joining the ultra-elite group of head coaches and quarterbacks who have won the Big One multiple times.

If the Packers get past the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday and then beat the AFC champion — either New England or Pittsburgh — in the Super Bowl in Houston on Feb. 5, McCarthy will become the 14th head coach and Rodgers the 13th quarterback to have done it more than once.

When the stars align, Barry Switzer and Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl. But no one, outside of the wealthy widower who marries a second millionaire, lucks his way into two rings.

We’re talking legends and icons here. Pro Football Hall of Fame territory. Rodgers already has one foot in the door in Canton. McCarthy would jump from the group of excellent coaches who won one Super Bowl to the rarefied air breathed by two-time winners such as Don Shula, Tom Landry and Bill Parcells. We’d throw Vince Lombardi in there, too, but he’s in a league of his own.

“I don’t think there’s any question if the Packers win the Super Bowl, McCarthy and Rodgers will definitely be in the conversation of the all-time greats,” said Dan Reeves, who played or coached in nine Super Bowls (but went 0-4 as a head coach).

Rodgers, a two-time league MVP with the highest quarterback rating in NFL history, has been in that conversation for some time. Reeves coached Hall of Famers John Elway and Roger Staubach and compared Rodgers favorably.

“Aaron makes some unbelievable throws from some unreal positions,” Reeves said. “I don’t know that John or Roger threw the ball as well as he does from awkward positions. They always squared up to face their target. Rodgers throws it sidearm, across his body. He’s fun to watch.”

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McCarthy has plenty of bona fides, too. He is one of four coaches in NFL history to lead a franchise to eight consecutive playoff appearances, joining Landry, Chuck Noll and Bill Belichick. Only two teams have had longer streaks: Dallas from 1975-’83 under Landry and Indianapolis from 2002-’10 under Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell.

McCarthy also won Super Bowl XLV, of course, but he gets neither the respect nationally nor the love locally one would think he would be accorded.

The “fire McCarthy” babble on social media and radio talk shows heats up at some point every season. Then the Packers make the playoffs and the experts slink back to their refrigerators for another beer.

It’s no wonder McCarthy felt compelled to remind Entitletown that he’s a highly successful NFL coach in one interview and question why America doesn’t love him more in another. OK, that was a bit self-indulgent, but he’s got a point.

“He does not get his due,” Reeves said. “People overlook him. I think people that know football don’t overlook him. People like myself admire and envy what he’s done. He’s doing it with a wide receiver (Ty Montgomery) at running back. He loses his best receiver (Jordy Nelson) and beats a very good Dallas team.

“People don’t understand how difficult that is to move people around and make those kind of adjustments with personnel.”

Of the eight coaches who won two or more Super Bowls in the first 25 years the game was played, seven are members of the Hall of Fame (Tom Flores is the lone exception). Five coaches have won two or more titles in the last 25 years and most if not all will gain entrance someday.

Reeves still isn’t in, despite taking Denver to the Super Bowl three times and Atlanta once.

“Going to the Super Bowl is one thing,” he said. “But winning it, they put a lot more on winning.”

Indeed, they do.

McCarthy and Rodgers are 120 minutes away from a special kind of greatness.

You can reach Gary D'Amato at or on Twitter @garydamatogolf

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