McCarthy's demeanor: ‘Boring by design’
GREEN BAY – At the lectern, his taciturn demeanor isn’t quite Belichickian. Mike McCarthy doesn’t mind answering a question with more than two sentences. Catch him on a good day, he might even crack a joke.
More often, there is no personality. No material for opponents to post in their locker rooms. Want a 10-second sound bite? You’re speaking to the wrong coach.
In private, McCarthy is laid back. Relaxed. Conversational. His news conferences – the coach’s direct communication with fans – can be described with three letters.
“BBD, man,” McCarthy said. “I’m boring by design. My goal in the press conference is to be informative to the fans, but at all costs try not to create questions for the locker room. That’s a mindset that I’ve had every time I walk to the podium.”
McCarthy offered a rare, introspective window into how he approaches his job. There are endless, daily responsibilities, including being the public face and voice of the Green Bay Packers. Entering his 10th season, McCarthy is comfortable with that voice being monotonous.
He falls somewhere between brusque Bill Belichick and effusive Rex Ryan on the personality spectrum of NFL coaches. McCarthy allowed it would “be more fun” using his daily podium to sell himself. Ultimately, he believes, it’s a sacrifice for his team’s benefit.
“It’s just managing the expectations for your players,” McCarthy said. “It goes back to job responsibility. These guys have a lot on their plate that they need to do to be successful, and making statements that’s going to cause them to answer more questions and spend more time, to me it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of thought process, it’s a waste of energy and it’s taking people away from doing what they’re paid to do.
“And that’s really as simple as that.”
There was little time for reflection Thursday morning. The Packers enter their opening weekend of the 2016 season, with their first game Sunday at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But McCarthy certainly was personable when he sat with local writers for 45 minutes at Lambeau Field. Questions ranged from what another Super Bowl title would do for his Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy – a topic he said hadn’t crossed his mind – to whether he wants to retire as the Packers' coach.
McCarthy wasn’t going there. He knows nothing is guaranteed in his profession.
“I’m a coach, man,” McCarthy said. “We don’t think like that. I’m still worried about the Jones Junior High job, make sure I can go back and get that one.”
McCarthy once again spent his summer in Green Bay. He gets about five weeks of vacation, but his mind turns to football after the Fourth of July. Early in his tenure, McCarthy spent summer in Texas.
He thought staying in Green Bay would make for a better summer.
“But I still come in here too much,” McCarthy said. “Because it’s always on the way to something – Ashwaubenon for a basketball tournament, come in here for a couple hours. I mean, it’s productive, but I feel like I don’t get away from it like I used to.
“When you go to Texas, you’re away for three or four weeks.”
McCarthy broke away from Green Bay – and his office – long enough in June to take his youngest son, George, to a two-day basketball camp at Indiana University. Coach Tom Crean ran the camp. Crean was Marquette’s coach during McCarthy’s first three seasons in Green Bay, and they remain friends.
At this point in his career, McCarthy said, he doesn’t reveal much in conversations with other league coaches. Trade secrets are closely guarded. McCarthy said he talks more with coaches outside the NFL. He briefly connected with Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst before the Badgers game Saturday against LSU at Lambeau Field.
In June, McCarthy said, he and Crean discussed the process of building their respective programs.
“I always enjoy talking to Tom,” McCarthy said. “… Just to be able to just talk philosophy, and just your program, just where he started, the thresholds that he’s had to get over to get the program where it is today, and all those types of things.
“You learn so much in those simple conversations and that’s to me all part of being open to growing.”
Ten years into this job, McCarthy still relies on principles he learned early as an NFL assistant. Among the most important was how to communicate with his staff.
When he worked under former Kansas City Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer two decades ago, McCarthy saw the importance in a clear chain of command.
“Certain people in the room,” McCarthy said, “have different levels of responsibilities and decision-making, and the reality is it's OK to disagree. But once the decision is made, you can't be disagreeable.
“Everybody has to vent … but the complaining is a negative-energy source that you just have to rid from your culture.”