Aaron Rodgers Talks Coach Mike McCarthy’s Return to Green Bay – Green Bay Packers Blog – ESPN – ESPN | CarTailz

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – For most Green Bay Packers players, the only connection to Mike McCarthy is when their car tires touch the sidewalk on the street that borders their practice fields, which are named in his honor.

If they even notice the street sign that says “Mike McCarthy Way.”

Only 10 players remain on the Packers roster from McCarthy’s tenure as head coach, and three of those played less than a full season for him. For the other seven, however, it’s more than just the name of a two-block stretch of street connecting Ashland Avenue and Oneida Street in the village of Ashwaubenon.

Some stayed in touch with him after his nearly 13-year tenure as the Packers’ coach ended when he was fired in the 2018 season with four games remaining. Others were surprised to learn that even though McCarthy is in his third season as coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he still spends part of his summers in the area. He and his family kept their home in suburban De Pere and a vacation spot in nearby Door County Peninsula.

The “McCarthy Seven” were asked about their fondest memories or lasting impressions of their former coach, who will be on the opposite touchline at Lambeau Field for the first time as he brings the 6-2 Cowboys to town on Sunday to face 3 – 6 packers (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).

Aaron Rodgers

McCarthy arrived in Green Bay in 2006 at the start of Rodgers’ second season in the NFL. Rodgers didn’t become a starting quarterback until 2008 after the Packers traded Brett Favre, but McCarthy spent some of those early years working with Rodgers during offseason workouts.

They won Super Bowl XLV in Rodgers’ third season as a starter, and Rodgers said one of the things that still stands out today is that McCarthy wanted the players to feel safe in that game, so he let them for their Super Bowl -Rings sizing the night before the competition.

“Getting a massage the night before the Super Bowl will always be a special memory — all night. We delayed the team meeting by about 15 minutes because some guys were sitting at the piano playing some songs. You just felt that this moment was something special. I appreciated him procrastinating things and allowing that moment and getting the size for your ring just the trust we had and the way of saying it was always very special.

“Mike and I met on Thursdays after practice for many, many years, in 2009 or 2010 I think. That was always fun. These could last 30 minutes or four hours. You would start getting to story time. It just bonded us over the years, those conversations. I’ve always appreciated that. I’m very thankful for the offseasons we’ve been through. Obviously the rules are slightly different [now], but that helped me become a better player. I will always be very grateful for this time, especially the early offseasons.”

Rodgers recalled visiting McCarthy’s home on Christmas Day 2013 when Rodgers was trying to come back from a broken collarbone.

“I met him that afternoon and said, ‘Hey, when things are over with the kids, I’d like to come over and have a chat with you.’ So I went over, I think he had some Iron City [beers], I can’t remember exactly, I might have had one just to get him to stop drinking alone, but I’ve never really been an Iron City guy. But we had a long conversation about my desire to play against Chicago the following week and it was a really memorable conversation. Of course it was Christmas and that brought a whole lot of emotions with it, but that time and that conversation is always something that sets me apart.”


Mason Crosby

Aside from Rodgers, Crosby played under McCarthy most of the time (nearly 12 seasons). The kicker was picked in the sixth round in 2007 and is now the Packers’ career scoring leader. Mid-career, Crosby endured a prolonged slump when he missed 12 field goals in 2012, but McCarthy clung to him.

“It meant a lot to me. We’ve always had a great relationship. The fact that he was standing behind me and a lot of guys in that locker room. He was always keen to build what we had from within and try to create something special. I will always be grateful and thankful to him for all the opportunities he gave me. I am forever grateful to him for always having my back and being my man through good and bad.

“He’s a very loyal, great guy. He was always true to himself – a guy from Pittsburgh and the roots he got from there. They always knew he would come in and be a hardworking guy and demand that of his players. So from the start I always got this blue collar vibe from him that he’s going to come in and be a grinder and make sure he’s working as hard as he can.

“It’s nice to see they’re having some success down there [in Dallas]. It will, I’m sure, be a bit bittersweet for him to come back.”


Randall Cobb

The receiver was selected in the second round in 2011 and played in Green Bay during the 2018 season. He returned to the Packers in 2021 after spending one season with the Cowboys (2019 before McCarthy was hired) and one with the Texans (2020).

“I’ll never forget being at the combine and meeting with the Packers and going through the interviews. You have 15 minutes with each team and they drag you from one team to another and I will never forget, as I left that meeting Mike said, “I wish I could take you with me now.” He gave me a t-shirt and I remember wearing the t-shirt at home and my buddy picked me up at the airport and I was wearing the Packers t-shirt. I will never forget that moment because it was like he believed in me in that moment and throughout my career.

“He’s played a huge role in my career. After my rookie year, he said to me in the exit meeting, ‘I have to find a way to put you on the field and give you more ball.’ In my sophomore year, he started integrating me as a running back, getting me out of the backfield and doing different things even though we were deep at receiver. I have a lot of respect and gratitude for the coach he was and the role he played in my career.

“I was actually close to going back to Dallas when he went to Dallas. I probably would never have left and never ended up here again.”


David Bakhtiari

Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick in 2013, should not start as a rookie. But when Bryan Bulaga tore his cruciate ligament in training camp, Bakhtiari was thrown in at left tackle and became the Packers’ first rookie to start there for a full season. If he’s healthy, he’s held the job ever since.

“Mike was my first exposure to the NFL, and some of my finest moments were the exit ratings [after the season]. I was just a day 3 fourth round pick trying to work my ass off and after my third year I asked him what I could do better to help the team. I always wanted to break up [each season] in order to. And after that third year, he just said, ‘You just keep doing exactly what you’re doing, can’t wait to have you back, and there you go [contract] negotiations are ongoing and let’s make a long-term deal.’

“When I heard your head coach say that, I was overjoyed. I will never forget this conversation. I can’t think about my career without thinking about Mike McCarthy. Hearing him and Aaron talk about winning [a Super Bowl]that stuff has always stuck in my mind.

“I got a text or two [since McCarthy was fired]. When I had mine [knee] Injury in 2020, he came forward and I really appreciated it.


Kenny Clark

Clark, a defensive tackle from UCLA and a California native, knew little about Packers history when they selected him in the first round (No. 27 overall) of the 2016 draft.

“He made sure everyone understood that this isn’t like a normal team – whether it was the historical stats that he used or different things about the Packers tradition and about Green Bay, you get the importance of history .

“It was always about the standard, the standard of that locker room and having what it takes and putting in the work that you have to put in to be great. If you get here and talk to him and the late one [general manager] Ted Thompson, you would talk to these guys and they would explain what it means to wear that G.”


Dean Lowry

Like Clark, Lowry was drafted in 2016; He was a fourth-round pick. It was something that happened after McCarthy was fired that stuck the most on the defensive end. It was when McCarthy returned to speak to the players and coaches a few days after his release.

“He walked in and you could tell he was emotional like we all were after that happened. He got up and thanked us for our efforts and for never leaving him. That said a lot about the character of Coach McCarthy coming back and looking into the room and being honest and telling us how he felt about us and how he was a straight shooter. I’m sure a lot of coaches would have moved on but you could tell he really cared about the guys in the room and the coaches would come out and tell us how he was feeling and just wish us well.

“He used to host the McCarthy Olympiad at his house during training camp where all the boys would go and play a few different games. He had various team functions at his small site in De Pere and it was always fun. It’s pretty cool that he’s still here [in the offseason] and he still has this street in McCarthy Way named after him. It’s cool to see his legacy.”


Aaron Jones

The running back was a fifth-round pick in 2017, which was McCarthy’s second-to-last draft as coach and the last draft Thompson oversaw before being promoted to an advisory position

“He got me started here in the NFL. I was always grateful to him for calling me up. My first start actually came against Dallas and it’s crazy to think about him now. He and [running backs coach Ben] Sirmans said, ‘The other guys are hurt, you’re awake.’

“They had a bit of faith in me, not as much as that staff but I’m pretty sure that’s why I saw the field a few times and started some games early because they believed in me. He always told us that. [When McCarthy came back after he was fired]he has told us he loves us, this is his passion and when you get an opportunity make the most of it and don’t take anything for granted and it has been an honor and a pleasure to coach the Green Bay Packers for so long.”

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