Thanksgiving break central to McCarthy's program

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Mike McCarthy knows working in the NFL means occasionally having to pull an all-nighter for the sake of your career.

Coach Mike McCarthy is all smiles after the Packers scored a touchdown against the Bears at Soldier Field last season.

That's why the Green Bay Packers coach believes it's imperative to take a step back when the moment allows, especially when it comes to in-season holidays like Thanksgiving.

With that in mind, the Packers pushed their schedule ahead on Thursday to allow players and coaching staff to be home with their families by 1 p.m. Central Time, serving as a brief reprieve before Sunday's critical game against the New England Patriots.

Whatever responsibilities players have after Thursdays practice were pushed to Friday.

"I've just always felt when you open up the first day in training camp, you talk about philosophy and you talk about the structure and you talk about the culture you want to create, and then you have one of your principles being 'Family first,'" McCarthy said.

"Frankly to tell your football team that 'Family first' is a priority and then we're going to work all day on thanksgiving, I think that's obviously a contradiction."

Many veterans like A.J. Hawk, Julius Peppers and Davon House were hosting players at their houses for Thanksgiving dinner. Director of player development Rob Davis and the coaches make sure every player on the team has somewhere to go if they don't have family in town.

When McCarthy was hired in 2006, he wanted the importance of family incorporated into his program. His mentor, Marty Schottenheimer, took a similar approach in adjusting the schedule when McCarthy worked for him in Kansas City in the 1990s.

As for Sunday's game against the Patriots, who have won seven-in-a-row, McCarthy said his team will be ready for the challenge.

"We were using beta cam tape and sleeping at the office, all those types of things. I've done all that," said McCarthy of early coaching career. "I understand the benefits of it professionally, I understand the damage that it can do to you personally, and really the stress that it can put on you professionally and personally. With all that, we we're all products of our experiences, and with proper time management, trust me, our team will be prepared and we're detailed and we're ready to go."

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