Had the changes of NFL football the last half-decade passed him by? Sure. This might all be symptoms of the glass emptying.
It’s a day long expected, and perhaps long needed in Green Bay, a day in response to how the glass that so often was interpreted as half full and half empty – finally emptied.
Did he lose the locker room? Most probably. Had his relationship with Aaron Rodgers deteriorated beyond the point of no repair? Perhaps.
– Packers part ways with Mike McCarthy; Joe Philbin named interim coach
– Kuhn: “Major source of dysfunction somewhere” within Packers
– Chmura: McCarthy’s Packers “quit” and Rodgers “got a coach fired”
– Crabtree: Surprised Packers fired McCarthy “right away,” but idea of Rodgers pushing firing “unfair”
In the eight-season run of playoff berths with the Packers from 2009-16, there was a bittersweet truth. The Packers were most-often able to make the fight for the championship on the arm of arguably the greatest pure passer to ever play the game in Aaron Rodgers.
But they rarely turned potential into the ultimate title.
McCarthy accomplished a rare feat in NFL history: Eight consecutive playoff appearances. Only the Dallas Cowboys (under Tom Landry) and New England Patriots (under Bill Belichick) could surpass that mark.
Overall, his nine playoff berths were more than Vince Lombardi had in his nine year tenure in Green Bay. More than Curly Lambeau could even produce in his 31 years with the Packers.
In other words, McCarthy was expert at keeping the Packers competitive – a “highly successful head coach” as he put it, in one way.
And of course, there was the ultimate: McCarthy’s direction of the Packers to six straight victories in the 2010 regular season and postseason, ending with a win in Super Bowl XLV.
Yet there was a double-edge to his success, as eight times, the Packers lost in the playoffs. Five of those times, they lost in the most heartbreaking fashion possible: The other team scoring the game-winning points on the game’s final play (2007 vs. Giants in NFC Title Game, 2009 at Arizona in Wild Card, 2013 vs. 49ers in Wild Card, 2014 at Seattle in NFC Title Game, 2015 at Arizona in Divisional Playoff).
Considering 12 teams make the NFL playoffs every year, a one-title-in-nine-attempt record isn’t exactly something to complain about. Unless you feel the potential was so much greater.
And with Packers fans watching the New England Patriots win five Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick era, and the Packers having two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers go to the playoffs 19 times with only two Super Bowl wins, it’s a feeling of mixed emotions.
But when you consider all that McCarthy did that was positive on and beyond the field, the character of someone who turned into a devoted family man while in Green Bay and a deeply community-oriented man of character and compassion, even with the playoff failures and recent struggles, it’s more than OK to praise Caesar as you bury him.
McCarthy will end his tenure in Green Bay with his own street. With missed chances at the big prize. But with the one night that will forever stand in Packers lore, when they pulled off one of the greatest surprise runs in modern playoff history and that win in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011.
His legacy won’t be that of Lombardi or Lambeau. But his positive place is Packers history is secure, even with today’s firing and the last two years of failures.
McCarthy was a mixed bag, but in total, he was no failure.