Shortly after Mike McCarthy was fired by the Green Bay Packers in December, the team allowed him to do something that might have been a first for a fired head coach.
The Packers allowed the fired McCarthy to return to the locker room three days later so he could address his players and say goodbye to the team he coached for 13 years.
You would think that with that kind of sendoff the relationship was still good between McCarthy and the team.
But the former coach’s recent comments indicate otherwise.
McCarthy told ESPN that his firing “couldn’t have been handled any worse.”
He also responded to tackle David Bakhtiari’s accusation that he didn’t hold his players accountable. “The one thing that would really grind my gears was guys being late for the plane (before road trips) and no one holding those guys accountable or even fining them for being late,” Bakhtiari said.
McCarthy fired back, “When you throw out words like complacency and accountability, that bothered me. That’s not accurate. I’ll be first to say that coaches are in the business of being criticized. We deal with it on a daily basis. But when you throw out a statement like that, you better have it right.
“A big part of the success I’ve had in this league is due to a tireless work ethic. All coaches work hard, but the accountability comment was totally inaccurate. I held my coaches and players accountable every year.”
McCarthy was fired after a Week 13 loss to the struggling Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. He said he wasn’t happy with the cold and callous way in which the Packers dismissed him.
“Anytime you lose a close game, it’s a difficult time emotionally afterward, but when you lose a home game at Lambeau Field in December, it’s really hard,” he told ESPN. “And that hasn’t happened very often. I walked out of my press conference, and I’m thinking about the game, thinking about how our playoff shot was now minimal. That’s where my head was at.
“And when I was told (Packers CEO) Mark Murphy wanted to see me — and the messenger was cold and the energy was bad. Mark said it was an ugly loss, and it was time to make (a) 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.
“Every time I released an individual, you get your words right. 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. The way people leave that building was very important to me. That’s a part of the business.”
McCarthy then brought up several former Packers, including Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb, said he hoped their departures were handled “the right way.”
The 55-year-old coach interviewed for the New York Jets’ head coach opening in January. After the team announced it had hired Adam Gase for the position, McCarthy said he wouldn’t coach anywhere in 2019.
Since then, he has been enjoying time with his family, but his competitive fire hasn’t stopped now that he’s no longer coaching.
In February, McCarthy was accused of berating the officials at his stepson’s high school basketball game.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association said a formal complaint was filed against McCarthy courtesy of the game’s referees.
“Some things were said, some language was used that we don’t want in our gym, unsportsmanlike language,” said Janel Batten, the athletic director of Pulaski High School.
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