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Mike McCarthy spoke with players days after firing


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Packers’ interim head coach Joe Philbin discusses Mike McCarthy’s return to the Lambeau to address his former team.
Olivia Reiner, PackersNews

GREEN BAY — There was a suddenness to the firing of Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Sunday night, and a quick transition to interim head coach Joe Philbin on Monday morning. But Packers president and chief executive officer Mark Murphy, along with general manager Brian Gutekunst, vice president/football operations Russ Ball and Philbin, welcomed McCarthy back into Lambeau Field on Wednesday to give him the opportunity to address the players for a final time.

In the team meeting room, McCarthy was given a standing ovation at the beginning of his remarks. And after an emotional address that included a regret that he couldn’t get the job done, the former coach left to another standing applause.

“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,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who played his entire career to that point under McCarthy.

“I know we really enjoyed it. I’m sure he did from a closure standpoint. Obviously, we gave him the respect he deserved and sending him off with some final words.”

McCarthy initially came by the offices inside Lambeau Field on Tuesday to request the meeting, one that Murphy told WTMJ radio provided “closure.” 

“He wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of, and he did a fantastic job talking to the team,” Philbin said Thursday. “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.”

Even for players who didn’t spend a lot of time with the former head coach, it spoke a lot about McCarthy that he was able to do that.

“I think it was pretty cool of him to do, especially put in that situation. I thought that was real mature of him,” rookie corner Jaire Alexander said. “I’m glad he gave us that closure.

“I was actually shocked to see him in there, but shoot, I don’t have a history with him but I still thought it was pretty cool to come in there and address the team. Even people he didn’t have a great relationship even was like yeah, that’s pretty cool. That’s a testament to him as a person.”

Added third-year defensive tackle Kenny Clark: “Him being let go and then him being able to see us again, he let us know, just told us how much he cared about us and the job and just the Packers and Green Bay in general. It was really cool to get to see him and talk to him one last time before he left.”

It’s rare for a fired coach to be welcomed back into the building so quickly afterward, let alone speak to anyone, but Philbin thought it was representative of the organization’s standards – and how they feel about McCarthy.

“That’s the Green Bay Packer way, right?” Philbin said. “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.”

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