When Mike McCarthy was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers in January 2006, he said the goal for the franchise would be to win a Super Bowl, and that would never change.
In 2010, McCarthy led the Packers back to the pinnacle of the sport, joining Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren as the only coaches in team history to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl title, with a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
The path to that world championship was not an easy one, as McCarthy joined Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher (2005) as the only Super Bowl-winning coaches to lead their respective teams to three road victories as the No. 6 seed in the playoffs en route to a title.
Since taking over as head coach in ’06, McCarthy has a 124-69-1 overall record (.642), including a 10-8 mark (.556) in the postseason. Entering 2017, his overall winning percentage ranks No. 2 among current NFL head coaches (min. 50 games). McCarthy’s 124 total victories at the helm of the Packers ranks second in franchise history, trailing only Curly Lambeau (212), and his 114 regular-season wins in his first 11 seasons as a head coach are tied for No. 3 in NFL history with Tony Dungy and George Seifert, while only trailing Don Shula (117) and Joe Gibbs (115). Additionally, McCarthy reached 100 wins faster than any active NFL coach, needing just 155 games, and with another 10-win season in 2016, he extended his franchise record (since 1921) with his eighth regular season with 10-plus wins.
With the victory over Dallas in the 2016 playoffs, McCarthy has led the Packers to 10 wins in the postseason, passing Lombardi and Holmgren for the most in team history.
Over the past eight seasons (2009-16), McCarthy guided Green Bay to one of the most successful stretches in team history. During that time, the Packers posted a 96-47-1 record (.670), including the playoffs. Green Bay’s 96 total victories from 2009-16 ranked No. 2 in the NFL behind only New England (110). Additionally, the 2016 season marked the Packers’ eighth straight playoff appearance, tied for the third-longest streak in league history behind only two franchises with nine (Dallas, 1975-83; Indianapolis 2002-10). McCarthy is only the fourth head coach in NFL history to lead a single franchise to eight-plus consecutive playoff appearances, joining Tom Landry, Chuck Noll and Bill Belichick. McCarthy’s nine playoff appearances overall are the most by a Packers coach since the NFL postseason began in 1933. Last season saw the Packers advance to the NFC Championship Game for the fourth time (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016) in the past 10 seasons, the most in the NFC over that span.
With another division title in 2016, McCarthy’s team has captured five NFC North titles in the last six years, the most in the NFC during that time, with no other NFC club winning more than three division titles over that span. More impressively, the Packers won four straight NFC North Division crowns from 2011-14, marking the first time that Green Bay won four straight division titles since the league went to a divisional format in 1967. The Packers were the only NFC team to win its division from 2011-14 and one of only three teams in the NFL to do so over that span (Denver, New England). McCarthy has guided Green Bay to a 48-17-1 (.735) record against division opponents since 2006, the second-best mark in the NFL over that time span (New England, 51-15, .773). Additionally, the Packers reeled off 12 straight wins against NFC North opponents from 2010-12, the longest divisional winning streak in team history.
Green Bay has also displayed a pattern of success at Lambeau Field under McCarthy. Since 2006, the Packers rank second in the NFL with a 65-22-1 (.744) regular-season mark at home, trailing only New England (75-13, .852). In 2014, Green Bay finished 8-0 for the fifth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger (1996-97, 2002, 2011) and were one of only two teams to go undefeated at home during the regular season (Denver). The Packers also led the NFL with 318 points scored at home during the 2014 season, the third-most points scored at home during the regular season in NFL history, trailing only the 2011 Saints (329) and the 2011 Packers (321).
McCarthy has been quite successful taking his teams away from Lambeau during his tenure as well. With a 4-4 road record during the 2016 regular season, Green Bay finished with at least a .500 road record for the ninth time in 11 seasons under his direction. Overall, the Packers are 49-39 in regular-season away games during McCarthy’s tenure. The .557 road winning percentage since 2006 is No. 2 in the NFC and No. 4 in the NFL over that span.
In 2011, McCarthy led Green Bay to a franchise-best 15 regular-season wins, as the Packers became just the sixth team in NFL history to reach that mark in the regular season. The Packers began the ’11 campaign by reeling off 13 consecutive wins, easily eclipsing the previous franchise record of 10-0 starts in 1929 and 1962. Dating back to Week 16 of the 2010 season, and including the playoffs, Green Bay won 19 consecutive games before suffering its lone regular-season defeat at Kansas City in Week 15. Covering a span of 364 days, the 19-game winning streak was the longest in franchise history and was the second-longest winning streak in NFL history (including playoffs) behind only the 2003-04 New England Patriots (21 games). Perhaps most impressively, the Packers never trailed in the fourth quarter during the streak.
The Packers’ 2011 regular-season success culminated with their second NFC North title under McCarthy and first since 2007. Green Bay’s 6-0 mark in the division marked the first time in team history that the Packers posted an undefeated record in their division. Green Bay also became the first team since the 1987 Chicago Bears to sweep the NFC North/Central. Additionally, the Packers earned the NFC’s No. 1 seed for the first time since 1996 and finished with a perfect 8-0 record at Lambeau Field for the first time since 2002.
McCarthy was runner-up in Coach of the Year voting by The Associated Press and saw seven of his players earn Pro Bowl nods following the 2011 campaign, the most the Packers had voted to the all-star game since 1967.
McCarthy guided the Packers to a 10-6 campaign in 2010, highlighted by seven wins in the final 10 games. What made Green Bay’s championship season even more impressive was the adversity the team faced due to injuries. The Packers finished the year with 15 players on injured reserve, and eight of them had started at least one game during the season. Six starters from the opening-day depth chart sustained season-ending injuries in the first seven games.
The Packers became just the third 10-6 team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, and their six losses on the season came by a combined 20 points. Green Bay never lost a game by more than four points, but even more impressive, it never trailed by more than seven points at any point in a game all season. The Packers became the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to never trail by more than seven points at any point during the regular season, and became the first championship-winning franchise to do so since the 1942 Washington Redskins.
It was a shining example of the steady, consistent approach that McCarthy has taken in leading the Packers throughout his tenure, one that culminated with the organization’s fourth Super Bowl title and 13th world championship.
Prior to coming to Green Bay in 2006, McCarthy was known in NFL circles for his innovative offensive mind and his ability to develop young quarterbacks.
Now 11 seasons into his tenure with the Packers, that reputation has become enhanced by the Packers’ offensive prowess before and during Aaron Rodgers’ tenure as the team’s starting quarterback.
During McCarthy’s time in Green Bay, the Packers have averaged 26.7 points per game, the third-best mark in the NFL since 2006. Additionally, the team’s 218 total giveaways from 2006-16 were the second fewest in the league. In 2014, Green Bay set a franchise record for fewest giveaways in a season with 13, while ranking tied for first in the NFL. The six best giveaway seasons in franchise history have come under McCarthy (13 in ’14, 14 in ’11, 16 in ’09 and ’12, 17 in ’15 and ’16).
Nine of the 11 Green Bay teams led by McCarthy have ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in total yardage – checking in at ninth in 2006, second in ’07, eighth in ’08, sixth in ’09, ninth in ’10, third in ’11, third in ’13, sixth in ’14 and eighth in ’16. Additionally, seven of the franchise’s top 10 single-season yardage totals have occurred during McCarthy’s tenure. In 2008-09, the Packers became the first team in NFL history to produce a 4,000-yard passer (Rodgers), two 1,000-yard receivers (Greg Jennings, Donald Driver), and a 1,200-yard rusher (Ryan Grant) in back-to-back seasons.
The Packers also finished in the top 10 in the NFL in total points for eight consecutive seasons (2007-14), and in nine of McCarthy’s 11 seasons, highlighted by a franchise-record 560 points in 2011. The franchise mark also ranks as the third-highest point total in NFL history behind only the 606 points posted by the Denver Broncos in 2013 and the 589 points recorded by the New England Patriots in 2007. The ’14 Packers registered 486 total points, the second most in franchise history, and the top three single-season point totals (461 in 2009) have all come under the direction of McCarthy.
McCarthy’s best offense in 2011 will also be remembered as one of the best in NFL history. In addition to setting a new franchise single-season record for points, the team set new single-season marks for touchdowns (70), total net yards (6,482) and net passing yards (4,924). The 70 TDs are also tied with the 1984 Miami Dolphins for the third-most TDs in a season in NFL history behind only the 2013 Broncos (76) and 2007 Patriots (75). Green Bay outscored its opponents 560-359 in 2011, a 201-point differential that ranked No. 2 in the NFL (New Orleans, plus-208). It marked the third straight season (2009-11) that the Packers outscored their opponents by at least 145 points, as they became the first NFL team to accomplish that feat in three-plus consecutive seasons since the San Francisco 49ers from 1991-95.
In 2009, McCarthy embarked upon the first major alterations to his coaching staff since his arrival, hiring Dom Capers to be his new defensive coordinator and change the unit from a 4-3 base alignment to the 3-4 scheme that has been the staple of Capers’ career.
The results have been incredibly impactful. With a No. 2 ranking in 2009 and a No. 5 ranking in 2010, the Packers finished in the top five in the league in overall defense in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1968-69. Since 2009, Green Bay ranks No. 1 in the NFL in interceptions (165), No. 4 in total takeaways (229), No. 5 in opponent passer rating (81.0), No. 3 in sacks (328) and No. 8 in points allowed per game (21.2).
Capers’ defensive formula under McCarthy, pressuring the quarterback and creating turnovers, was evident once again in 2016. Led by LB Nick Perry’s career-high 11 sacks, Capers’ defense ranked tied for No. 6 in the NFL with 40 sacks last season, marking the sixth time in the last seven seasons that Green Bay finished in the top 10 in the league in that category. The Packers also ranked tied for No. 4 in the NFL with 17 interceptions in ’16, guiding them to a plus-eight turnover margin that ranked No. 6 in the NFL. Most impressively, during Green Bay’s six-game winning streak to close out the regular season, the Packers forced a league-leading 15 turnovers. The Packers have an 82-11-1 regular-season record (.878) when holding the advantage in turnover ratio during McCarthy’s tenure.
Capers’ unit was also proficient against the run in 2016, ranking eighth in the NFL while surrendering just 94.7 yards per game on the ground. That mark is tied for the seventh-lowest average in franchise history.
In 2015, the Packers were tied for No. 7 in the NFL with 43 sacks and also ranked No. 5 in the league in sacks per pass attempt (7.8 percent). Additionally, Green Bay tallied 16 interceptions to rank No. 9 in the NFL, guiding them to a plus-five turnover margin, tied for No. 10 in the NFL.
The defensive unit was also proficient at keeping opponents off the scoreboard in 2015 as the Packers held 10 opponents to 20 points or less during the regular season, tied for No. 3 in the NFL. Overall, Green Bay surrendered just 20.2 points per game during the 2015 regular season, No. 12 in the league and the lowest since giving up 15.0 points per game in 2010.
The Packers’ 41 sacks in 2014, tied for No. 9 in the NFL, were only part of the story as the defense registered at least six quarterback hits in 10 of 16 regular-season games. Green Bay was tied for No. 4 in the league for the most players to register at least three sacks, with six in 2014. The Packers also finished the regular season No. 3 with 110 points off takeaways and tied for No. 9 in the NFL with 29 takeaways. Green Bay finished the 2014 season with a league-best turnover margin of plus-14.
Despite missing the team’s best pass rusher, LB Clay Matthews, for five games in 2013, the defense still finished the season with 44 sacks to tie for No. 8 in the NFL. Additionally, the defense finished the ’13 campaign strong by forcing 12 turnovers over the last five games, which was tied for No. 3 in the NFL over that span. The Packers posted two or more takeaways in each of the last five games, the longest single-season streak by the club since a nine-game stretch in 2002.
The 2012 defense was led by Matthews and the pass rush as he tallied 13 sacks in just 12 games, helping the defense to 47 total sacks, good for No. 4 in the NFL. The sack total was also tied for fifth best in franchise history (since 1963). Green Bay was No. 4 in the NFL in opponent passer rating (76.8), while limiting its opponent to 20 points or less in eight of the last 10 regular-season games to propel the Packers to a No. 11 ranking in scoring defense (21.0 ppg). Green Bay finished the season tied for No. 8 in the NFL with 18 interceptions, contributing to a plus-7 turnover margin, good for No. 10 in the league in ’12. Green Bay was the only team in the NFL to finish in the top 10 in the league in turnover differential each season from 2007-12.
In 2011, the defense was at its ball-hawking best as the Packers posted a league-high 31 interceptions, the second time in three seasons (2009) that they led the league in that category. The INT total was the most posted by Green Bay since it registered the same total in 1962. The Packers finished tied for the league lead with 38 total takeaways, leading to a plus-24 turnover ratio that ranked second in the league and tied for second in franchise history.
In 2010, the Packers ranked No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense at 15.0 points per game, the team’s best mark since leading the league in the category in 1996 (13.1). Green Bay was tied for No. 2 in the NFL with 47 sacks in ’10, its highest league ranking since sacks began to be recorded as a team statistic in 1963.
The defense improved from 20th in total yards allowed in ’08 to second in ’09, and from 26th in run defense to the top spot, becoming the first Green Bay defense to lead the league against the run and setting a franchise record by allowing just 83.3 yards rushing per contest. The defense also led the NFL in interceptions (30) and total takeaways (40) in ’09.
The ’09 season was not a smooth road back to playoff contention, however. Back-to-back losses in early November dropped the Packers to 4-4, and a promising season suddenly appeared in doubt. But McCarthy kept building on the identity that was forming – a team that could attack with multiple threats offensively, stop the run defensively and win the turnover battle – and led the Packers out of the adverse stretch to a 7-1 record over the second half of the schedule. Meanwhile, Rodgers earned his first Pro Bowl berth, nearly breaking the franchise’s single-season record for passing yards, and veteran cornerback Charles Woodson was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Unfortunately, the late-season surge ended abruptly with a sudden-death overtime loss at Arizona in an NFC Wild Card contest, but McCarthy had gotten the Packers back on track toward the goal they would reach just a year later.
ON THE BRINK
McCarthy brought the Packers to the brink of accomplishing that Super Bowl goal in just two years. Coming off an 8-8 rookie season that ended with a momentum-building, four-game winning streak, McCarthy led the Packers to a 13-3 mark in 2007 that was groundbreaking in many respects.
The Packers tied the then-franchise record for victories in the regular season and won the club’s first NFC North Division title since 2004. They also captured a bye in the playoffs and advanced to the conference championship game for the first time in a decade. It all earned McCarthy 2007 NFL Coach of the Year awards from Motorola and NFL Alumni, and he also was runner-up in Coach of the Year voting from AP.
The championship he had set as the goal was within reach, as the Packers hosted the N.Y. Giants in the NFC title game on a frigid January day at Lambeau Field. The hard-fought, 23-20 overtime defeat was an opportunity missed, but one McCarthy vowed his team would learn from.
Green Bay went 13-3 and secured the team’s first playoff bye since 1997, and McCarthy tied Mike Sherman for the most wins by a Green Bay coach in his first two seasons with 21.
Behind Brett Favre’s superb final year in Green Bay and the emergence of Grant as the feature back, the Packers finished with the league’s No. 2-ranked offense, their highest ranking since 1983. They also compiled season totals in points (435) and net yards (5,931) that rank sixth and seventh, respectively, on the franchise’s all-time list.
The postseason began in startling fashion, with Grant fumbling twice in the first minute of the game to set up two Seattle scores for a 14-0 Seahawks lead in the NFC Divisional playoff. Drawing on a steadfastness that served the team well during some rough spots the previous year, McCarthy and the Packers never panicked and rallied for a dominant 42-20 victory in the snowy “winter wonderland” of Lambeau Field.
In advancing to the NFC Championship Game, McCarthy became the first Packers coach since Lombardi to lead the team to a title game in his second season at the helm.
Though the quest for that championship came up short, McCarthy had returned the Packers to playoff prominence just two years after the 4-12 season that preceded his arrival.
A LEADER OF QUARTERBACKS
In his first two seasons as head coach, McCarthy simultaneously oversaw a mini-renaissance of Favre’s career and the development of Rodgers as his backup.
Charged with learning McCarthy’s version of the West Coast offense and given more latitude in making decisions at the line of scrimmage, Favre concluded his brilliant Green Bay career with a 95.7 passer rating in 2007, his best in 11 years and fourth best in his career, while completing a then-career-high 66.5 percent of his passes.
Buying into McCarthy’s aggressive but controlled approach, Favre’s interceptions dropped from 29 in 2005 to 18 in 2006 to 15 in 2007. He finished second in the voting for what then would have been an unprecedented fourth NFL MVP award, and he subsequently passed the torch to Rodgers, his understudy for his final three years in Green Bay and McCarthy’s prime pupil for the last eight seasons.
Since taking over as the starter in ’08, Rodgers hasn’t disappointed his main tutor or the team as he has developed into arguably the league’s best quarterback. Rodgers has topped 4,000 yards passing six times (2008-09, 2011-12, 2014, 2016), which in ’08, combined with Favre’s total in ’07, marked the first time in league history a team had two different quarterbacks throw for 4,000 yards in consecutive years. In the process, Rodgers also became the first quarterback in league history to surpass the 4,000-yard plateau in each of his first two seasons as a starter. In total, McCarthy has been on the coaching staff for eight of the 13 (1999, 2007-09, 2011-12, 2014, 2016) 4,000-yard passing seasons in franchise history.
Rodgers posted 21,332 passing yards from 2008-12 to set an NFL record for the most passing yards by a QB in his first five seasons as a starter, surpassing the previous mark held by Peyton Manning (20,618, 1998-2002). His career passer rating of 104.1 ranks No. 1 in NFL history, and he is the only QB in league history to post a 100-plus passer rating in six consecutive seasons (2009-14). Additionally, his 1.5 career interception percentage is tops in NFL history.
The 2016 season saw Rodgers become the first Green Bay quarterback to lead the NFL in TD passes (40) since Favre in 2003, his franchise-record fourth season (2011-12, 2014, 2016) with 35-plus TD passes (Favre, three, 1995-97). In the process he also became just the fourth QB in NFL history to record two seasons (also 2011) with 40-plus TD passes (Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees). Last season, Rodgers also threw for 4,428 yards, the sixth 4,000-yard passing season of his career, setting the franchise record as he surpassed Favre’s mark of five 4,000-yard seasons. He also set the single-season franchise record for completions in 2016 with 401, surpassing Favre’s mark of 372 in 2005. Most impressively, Rodgers only threw seven interceptions last season, marking his sixth season with 500-plus attempts/eight or fewer interceptions, the most in NFL history (Tom Brady, three; nine others with one).
After missing seven games in 2013 because of injury, Rodgers was again at his best in 2014 as he captured his second NFL MVP award under McCarthy. Rodgers’ accomplishments that season were many; he threw for three-plus touchdowns eight times, recorded a 120-plus passer rating seven times and registered eight 300-yard passing games. Rodgers also became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 18-plus touchdowns with one or fewer INTs in the first seven games of the season, and his 13 games (min. 15 attempts) without an interception were the third most in a regular season in NFL history. He extended his NFL record by finishing the regular season with a passer rating above 100.0 for the sixth season in a row, with his 112.2 rating ranking as the second-best mark in a season in team history, trailing only his own rating of 122.5 in 2011. He once again finished the season ranked among the league leaders in several categories: second in passer rating (112.2), third in passing touchdowns (38) and first in TD/INT ratio (7.6).
McCarthy’s work with the quarterbacks in 2013 was perhaps his best. After suffering a significant injury in Week 9 against the Bears, Rodgers was sidelined for the team’s next seven games. Despite missing one of the league’s best players, McCarthy still found a way to guide the Packers to their third straight NFC North title. In the process, it marked the first time a division winner had four different QBs (Rodgers, Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, Matt Flynn) start at least one game that season since the 1987 Chicago Bears, and just the fourth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Rodgers was at the top of his game in his nine contests in ’13, finishing among the league leaders in several categories as he ranked No. 5 in passer rating (104.9), No. 2 in yards per attempt (8.74), No. 5 in completion percentage (66.6) and No. 3 in yards per completion (13.14).
In 2011, Rodgers and McCarthy teamed up to author one of the greatest offensive seasons in NFL history, highlighted by the former Cal standout’s 122.5 passer rating that set an NFL single-season record. He finished the season connecting on 343 of 502 passes (68.3 percent) for 4,643 yards and a career-high 45 TDs with six INTs on his way to earning league MVP honors. His 45 TD passes obliterated the franchise single-season record (Favre, 39 in 1996) and is the sixth-highest total in NFL annals, while his 4,643 passing yards also set a new franchise record. He is the only 4,000-yard passer in NFL history to throw six or fewer INTs in that season, having done it twice.
Rodgers also set an NFL single-season record with 11 consecutive 110-rating games, topping 49ers QB Steve Young’s mark of seven straight in 1994, and 12 consecutive 100-rating games, besting Manning’s mark of nine in 2004. Rodgers finished the 2011 season ranked No. 1 in the league in yards per attempt (9.25) and TD/INT ratio (7.50), No. 2 in TD passes (45) and completion percentage (68.3) and No. 4 in yards per game (309.5).
Rodgers has also enjoyed success in the postseason under McCarthy, setting an NFL record with 10 passing TDs in his first three postseason starts. Rodgers also became only the fourth signal-caller to throw for 300 yards and three TDs with no INTs in a Super Bowl on his way to earning game MVP honors for Super Bowl XLV.
THE RIGHT FIT
With a personality to match his blue-collar hometown, McCarthy landed his first NFL head-coaching job in his kind of place.
A Pittsburgh native, McCarthy was named the 14th head coach of the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 12, 2006, the only step left to take after 13 years as an NFL assistant.
But while he previously had traveled through NFL cities such as Kansas City, New Orleans and San Francisco, it may be Green Bay that most resembles his native Pittsburgh. And if there was one word used to describe McCarthy’s hiring in his first days with the Packers, it was that he was the right “fit,” both for a town and a team looking to turn around a disappointing 4-12 season in 2005.
The way McCarthy fits Green Bay, however, goes beyond the toughness in his personality, down-to-earth demeanor, and pride in his upbringing.
He not only spent one of those 13 previous years in the NFL with Green Bay, but he took over the Packers already well-versed in the West Coast offense, with a reputation for developing offensive talent, particularly at the quarterback position.
McCarthy is known for taking a hands-on teaching approach with young players and is well-respected around the league, in part because he called plays for six seasons as an offensive coordinator before becoming a head coach. Plus, he has tutored an impressive roster of NFL quarterbacks.
While two of the biggest names he has worked with, Favre in Green Bay and Joe Montana in Kansas City, were at or beyond their peak years at the time, McCarthy has played at least a part in the development of signal callers Aaron Brooks, Jake Delhomme, Matt Hasselbeck, Flynn, Marc Bulger, Rich Gannon and Elvis Grbac.
The entire stable of quarterbacks that McCarthy has worked with, which also includes Jeff Blake, Steve Bono and Dave Krieg, has combined for 41 career Pro Bowl selections, 10 Super Bowl starts, and eight Most Valuable Player awards.
General Manager Ted Thompson heavily weighed McCarthy’s track record with quarterbacks when he hired him the following year, knowing that since the post-Favre era was inevitable, the right tutelage at the game’s most important position would be key to a smooth and successful transition.
PAYING HIS DUES
Much like those players he worked with who rose to prominence, McCarthy paid plenty of dues along the way to his first head-coaching job.
He learned a disciplined and no-nonsense approach to life at an early age. His father, Joe, was a longtime firefighter and police officer who also owned a bar near a Pittsburgh steel mill. McCarthy worked odd jobs at the bar as a teen. It was interacting with the hard-working tavern clientele while also watching a father in uniform dedicated to public service that helped make McCarthy proud of where he came from.
After his playing career as a tight end at Baker University (Kan.) ended, his 30-year coaching career began as a linebackers coach at Fort Hays State (Kan.) in 1987. He cracked the Division I ranks two years later as a volunteer assistant at the University of Pittsburgh.
It was there he displayed the will and determination to make it in the coaching profession, working unpaid on the football field by day and collecting tolls along the Pennsylvania Turnpike during the graveyard shift to make ends meet.
He soon moved into a paid position at Pitt assisting with the quarterbacks, and then coaching the wide receivers, before Panthers head coach Paul Hackett recommended him to the Kansas City Chiefs when they hired Hackett as offensive coordinator in 1993. McCarthy joined Hackett on the Chiefs’ staff as a quality-control assistant.
McCarthy considers Hackett the biggest influence in his coaching career, having learned the West Coast offense from him and then installing it himself as offensive coordinator in New Orleans.
It was under Hackett’s wing that McCarthy developed the attention to detail, scouting and game-planning skills that would help him move up the NFL ranks.
The third-youngest head coach in the NFL when he was hired at age 42 (the Saints’ Sean Payton was seven weeks younger and the Jets’ Eric Mangini was 35), McCarthy took over a team coming off its first losing season since 1991, before Favre arrived as quarterback.
Thompson made it clear when he hired McCarthy he wasn’t looking for just an X’s and O’s guy. He was looking for someone who would impress him with a variety of qualities, including leadership ability, toughness, football knowledge and an awareness of the Green Bay organization and the team’s unique place within the NFL and the local community.
McCarthy, who had interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ head-coaching job five years earlier but admits he wasn’t necessarily ready then, fit the bill. In his introductory news conference, he spoke of how taking over the Packers was like buying his “dream house,” with the foundation, tradition and resources to help him make the team a championship contender once again.
McCarthy emphasized he didn’t feel the Packers were in a rebuilding mode at all, but there was work to be done right away.
He wasted no time constructing the environment he wanted for his team, installing an offseason workout program that saw a then-record attendance, which spoke volumes about the level of respect he quickly commanded as a head coach.
CAREER AS NFL ASSISTANT
McCarthy broke into the NFL as a quality-control assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. It was then he worked with Montana before moving up to quarterbacks coach from 1995-98, working with starters Gannon, Grbac and Bono. The trio’s total of 52 interceptions marked the lowest total in the AFC over that four-year span.
After working with McCarthy from 1995-98, Gannon went on to earn all four of his Pro Bowl selections, the 2002 league MVP award and a start in Super Bowl XXXVII with the Raiders. Gannon credits McCarthy with helping him take the quarterback’s game to a higher level.
“He’s the guy that really helped catapult my career,” Gannon said. “He was the guy who really taught me the West Coast system of football. He really taught me how to prepare for a game, taught me how to watch film, how to break down an opponent, how to study. It was really those things I took with me to Oakland.
“There was never a doubt in my mind he’d be a head coach. He’s a great play-caller, great working with the quarterbacks. He’s a tough guy, a guy willing to do the work, and he’s a leader.”
When Gannon left the Chiefs for Oakland in 1999, McCarthy departed Kansas City to become Green Bay’s quarterbacks coach. That year, the Packers ranked No. 7 in the NFL in passing and No. 9 in total offense. Favre threw for 4,091 yards, the third-highest total in his career at that point.
The following year, McCarthy began a successful five-year stint as the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. It became the most prolific offensive era to that point in the team’s four decades, as the Saints set 10 offensive team records and 25 individual marks.
Among the more notable accomplishments, the Saints led the NFC with 432 points and 49 touchdowns in 2002, both team records at the time. In his first season in 2000, McCarthy was named NFC Assistant Coach of the Year by USA Today.
That year the Saints produced their first 1,000-yard receiver in eight years in Joe Horn, and their first 1,000-yard rusher in 10 years in Ricky Williams. After that drought of 1,000-yard rushers, the Saints had one (either Williams or Deuce McAllister) in each of McCarthy’s five seasons running the offense.
In 2005, McCarthy served as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.
COLLEGE COACHING & PLAYING CAREER
McCarthy began his six-year collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Fort Hays State in Hays, Kan., in 1987, just after completing his playing career at nearby Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan.
At Baker, McCarthy earned a degree in business administration and was an all-conference tight end and senior captain in 1986, helping lead the Wildcats to an NAIA Division II national runner-up finish. He was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in October 2007.
At Fort Hays State under head coach John Vincent, McCarthy coached linebackers for two years while earning a master’s degree in sports administration.
The return to his hometown came in 1989 under Pittsburgh head coach Mike Gottfried, now an ESPN college football analyst, followed by three years under Hackett with the Panthers.
As quarterbacks coach, McCarthy worked with Alex Van Pelt, now the Packers’ quarterbacks coach, as he topped the school’s career and single-season records for passing yards established by Dan Marino.
Born Michael John McCarthy on Nov. 10, 1963, in Pittsburgh, he grew up one of five children in the Irish-Catholic family of father Joe and mother Ellen in Greenfield, a Pittsburgh neighborhood just a couple of miles from downtown. He graduated from Bishop Boyle High School in Homestead, Pa.
McCarthy’s family includes wife Jessica and their five children.
Since returning to Green Bay in 2006, McCarthy has immersed himself in the local community and beyond through charitable donations and participation in numerous philanthropic events. His local-event participation included his nine-year involvement in the Mike McCarthy Cystic Fibrosis Celebrity Golf Open. The golf outing, which was hosted by the current Packers head coach, benefited local and statewide cystic fibrosis organizations. The tournament was originally started by Lindy Infante.
Perhaps closest to his heart is the Mike & Jessica McCarthy Golf Invitational. Established in June 2010, the tournament benefits the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis. In just eight years, the event has raised funds that have helped the hospital expand with two new floors, a neonatal intensive-care unit and additional pediatric beds. Coach McCarthy and his family are committed to further developing and improving resources and facilities at the hospital to meet the needs of sick children.
Including projected contributions in 2017, the McCarthy Family Foundation has made donations to benefit numerous charities, projects and institutions during his 11-plus seasons as head coach. McCarthy established the foundation with the intent of fostering a long-term philanthropic commitment by his family beyond his NFL career. Beneficiaries have included organizations throughout Wisconsin, Kansas and his hometown of Pittsburgh. Some of the organizations that have benefited from the foundation, or from McCarthy personally, include: Autism Society of Northwest Wisconsin, Baker University, Cure Autism Now Foundation, Green Bay Boys and Girls Club, Greenfield Baseball Association, Greenfield Organization, Jackie Nitschke Center, Little Sisters of the Poor, Seven Loaves Project, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, St. Rosalia Academy, Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer and the American Red Cross.
Additionally, McCarthy has served as honorary chairperson and participated in numerous charitable events around the state, including serving as honorary chairperson for the local Cerebral Palsy Telethon and working with the American Heart Association on its Red Cap campaign to recognize heart disease and stroke survivors and to raise awareness of those conditions.
In the past, he has participated in the Lombardi Award of Excellence Dinner Ball, which supports the Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds in the fight against cancer, and served as host of the Green & Gold Gala, a fundraiser for Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin. He has also spent time visiting cancer patients at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.
Among several other events, McCarthy has participated in the Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer Motorcycle Ride, the Edgar Bennett Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon, the team’s regular Make-A-Wish Foundation practice and game visits, the 2016 Men for All Seasons Green Bay Men’s Conference and various local Get Motivated seminars.
McCarthy was honored with the Distinguished Service Award at the Lee Remmel Sports Awards Banquet in April 2008, and then in the fall as the 2008 Person of the Year from his native Greenfield Neighborhood. He was also voted by the fans as the 2007 Motorola Coach of the Year, and in 2011 was named the Maxwell Football Club’s NFL Coach of the Year.