Packers' McCarthy celebrated in Pittsburgh hometown
DALLAS — Mike McCarthy was standing at the podium when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw his parents reveling in the Super Bowl XLV post-game pandemonium Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium.
McCarthy didn't dare make eye contact with Joe and Ellen McCarthy, knowing that to do so would cause him to grasp the gravity of the feat he had just accomplished. A guy who grew up in Greenfield as the Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s had just beaten his hometown team for the Lombardi Trophy as coach of the Green Bay Packers.
"I couldn't even look at them," McCarthy said. "You've got to answer Terry Bradshaw's questions. I can't be up there crying."
Standing outside the Green Bay locker room after the Packers' 31-25 victory over the Steelers, Joe McCarthy shared the same sentiment as his older brother while laughing about how Scott McCaffrey, a Greenfield native married to the youngest McCarthy sister, Kelly, vowed to drink a beer for the first time if the Packers won the Super Bowl.
They couldn't believe how poetically Mike McCarthy's script played out.
"It almost brings you to tears," said Joe McCarthy, 41, an attorney who lives in Pine Township. "I always had all the confidence in the world Mike would accomplish that. Everyone in the family is so overcome by emotion.
"From Greenfield to Green Bay to Super Bowl champions ..."
Mike McCarthy found it hard to fight that storyline the past two weeks, even as family and friends from Pittsburgh rallied around his Packers. The McCarthy family would reserve its emotional moments for the privacy of the Packers' locker room and the Omni Mandalay in Las Calinas, where they celebrated the championship into Monday morning.
"You watch what your family goes through, but it's different when you play Pittsburgh," McCarthy said. "It's like a kid growing up in Green Bay and going back and playing against the Green Bay Packers as a coach on the other sideline. Those communities are so intertwined with their football teams. It was very personal and emotional.
"I'm very proud of where I came from. It's unique to win the Super Bowl, but to beat your hometown team, there's no words for it."
Without being "arrogant or ignorant," McCarthy said, the Packers planned to be here all along. Green Bay's championship was no accident, but rather a result of the consistency of what he calls a "very simple coaching philosophy" involving honesty, discipline and structure. He tells his players when they do well, tells them when they need to improve. He doesn't tolerate tardiness, and hands out fines for obvious infractions.
"It's no surprise we're the champs," he said. "They do things the right way."
The Packers feel the same way about McCarthy, who spent a year as Green Bay's quarterbacks coach in 1999 only to return and tell legendary quarterback Brett Favre that "the train was leaving" without him. McCarthy helped develop Favre's successor, Aaron Rodgers, into a Super Bowl MVP while leading the Packers to their record 13th NFL championship and fourth Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Packers president Mark Murphy called McCarthy "a really talented coach" and said that Green Bay "absolutely" wants to keep him there long-term, especially after how he handled losing players such as running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley to season-ending injuries, playing Super Bowl XLV without starting linebacker Erik Walden and then losing wide receiver Donald Driver and cornerback Charles Woodson by halftime.
"I think he is tremendously positive," Murphy said. "I think for our team and the way the season played out, he never let the players use injuries as an excuse. He never felt sorry for himself or for the other coaches. The attitude was, 'If anyone was out, next one up. We expect to make plays.' The team responded well to that."
The Packers also responded well to McCarthy's confident attitude, especially when he had them measured for Super Bowl rings on Saturday night. McCarthy stressed the importance of the ability to discipline his ego, citing as an example his decision to take a step back and allow Rodgers and Woodson address their teammates before the game.
"I mean, who's ever done that?" McCarthy said. "I believe in developing leadership and how a football team responds to it."
The people of Green Bay will respond to McCarthy's leadership and attitude when he returns the Lombardi Trophy to the town where Vince Lombardi once coached and, to this day, remains a revered figure. McCarthy reciprocates Green Bay's affection by comparing its charm to that of his childhood neighborhood.
"I'm a big believer in certain people in certain cultures," McCarthy said. "We've got an NFL franchise in the middle of a small town. That might not be for everybody, but I love it. I love everything about it, the blue-collar approach of the people. It reminds me a lot of growing up in Greenfield. People go there and it's flat and doesn't look like Pittsburgh, but that's not the point. The point is the people. You've got great neighbors, kids everywhere. That's how it was when I was a kid.
"And I have a pretty good job in town."Additional Information:
Join the club
With Green Bay's 31-25 victory over the Steelers, Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a Greenfield native, became the 27th different coach to win a Super Bowl and the sixth consecutive first-time winning coach:
• Bill Cowher, Steelers, Super Bowl XL
• Tony Dungy, Colts, Super Bowl XLI
• Tom Coughlin, Giants, Super Bowl XLII
• Mike Tomlin, Steelers, Super Bowl XLIII
• Sean Payton, Saints, Super Bowl XLIV
• Mike McCarthy, Packers, Super Bowl XLVAdditional Information:
Did you know?
Mike McCarthy became the third Packers coach to win the Super Bowl, joining Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. The only other teams to win Super Bowls with three different coaches are the Steelers, with Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin; and the Cowboys, with Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer.