Other than a classy gesture thanking Green Bay Packers fans, Mike McCarthy has been generally quiet since he was fired as the team’s head coach.
He opened up to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky in his first interview since being fired, and while he shared his feelings on many subjects, what stood out was that he didn’t appreciate how his time as Packers coach ended.
With time to reflect, McCarthy told Demovsky he understood a change needed to be made. But he thinks he deserved better treatment on the way out after 13 seasons as Packers head coach.
“Obviously,” McCarthy told ESPN.com. “It couldn't have been handled any worse.”
Mike McCarthy not happy how Packers handled his firing
McCarthy was fired after a bad 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field on Dec. 1, with four games to go in the season. Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy called him in for a meeting shortly after the game to tell him he was fired. McCarthy said he was surprised by the timing, but what really seemed to bother him was the tone of the meeting.
“And when I was told Mark Murphy wanted to see me — and the messenger was cold and the energy was bad,” McCarthy told Demovsky. “Mark said it was an ugly loss, and it was time to make change. He said something about the offense and the special teams, and he didn't think it was going to get any better. There was no emotion to it. That was hard.”
McCarthy comes off as gracious and thoughtful through the interview, so his words about Murphy and the way he was fired carry some extra weight. As did what he said about how he personally handled when he had to cut a player.
“Every time I released an individual, you get your words right,” McCarthy said. “There's a personal component to it. You know he has a family. He's family. There wasn't any of that. So that was off.”
McCarthy understood why the move was made
There was a lot of positivity about McCarthy’s interview. He still lives in Green Bay and had great things to say about the community and fans. He mentioned it was “challenging” to coach a Hall of Fame quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, but said it was fun and spoke very highly of Rodgers. McCarthy spoke a lot about how important his family is to him and how it has been nice to spend more time with them.
He also has a good perspective on why the move happened, even if he didn’t like how it was handled.
“If we missed the playoffs, I expected change might happen. But the timing surprised me. Actually it stunned me,” McCarthy told Demovsky. “But time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that's where I'm at now. And it's clear to me now that both sides needed a change.”
McCarthy said his wife Jessica said she was relieved for him after he was fired, and she said for the past few seasons the job “beat the hell out” of him. A year away from coaching could help.
McCarthy, who won 125 games and a Super Bowl as Packers coach, should emerge as a candidate for jobs again next offseason. The Packers will move on, as will McCarthy, but the two sides will always be linked, even if it didn’t end in the prettiest fashion.
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