Mike McCarthy was fired as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, ending his 13-year tenure with the team.
That fact, though, hasn’t kept him away from Lambeau Field.
McCarthy was invited back to visit twice this week, once on Tuesday to speak with his former coaching staff, and again on Wednesday to meet with the players — something he wasn’t allowed to do immediately after he was fired.
“We all saw him as a staff, which was great,” interim coach Joe Philbin told ESPN. “Then we talked, and he wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of [it], and he did a fantastic job talking to the team. Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident. I’m sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job.”
When he came back the next day, McCarthy was given a standing ovation from the players.
“I was happy to see him,” linebacker Clay Matthews told ESPN. “Obviously, first things first, you understand that this is a business and not many people get that opportunity. And the player, as well. We’re in the same boat. For him to invest the past 13 years in this team, has given his heart and soul to us, to have that kind of closure, it was great of the organization — Joe, Gutey, Mark and everybody that allowed him to come in and say his piece. I know we really enjoyed it. I’m sure he did from a closure standpoint. Obviously, we gave him the respect he deserved and sent him off with some final words.”
While communication is sometimes cut off when a coach is fired in the middle of the season, Philbin said that hasn’t been the case. He has talked with McCarthy multiple times since Sunday, and is open to all the help he can get to lead the Packers through the rest of the season.
And after their rough 4-7-1 start, Philbin can likely use all the help he can get.
“That’s the Green Bay Packer way, right?” Philbin told ESPN. “This is a first-class organization all the way around. I think it’s been that way for 100 seasons, I would guess. I’m not that old, but I’m guessing it’s been like that for a long time. We do things the right way around here. Mark and Russ and Brian were all totally supportive, they think that was the right thing to do, as did I. Hopefully it will help.”
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