If you would like a long look behind the curtain at the dozen-year history in Green Bay shared by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former head coach Mike McCarthy, then hoo boy does Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report deliver.
Dunne, who formerly covered the Packers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, conducted scores of on- and off-the-record interviews in trying to get to the heart of two questions: When and why did the relationship between the QB and head coach break down? And who bears the most responsibility for the Packers — despite making the playoffs eight years in a row — only reaching (and winning) one Super Bowl while the two men worked together?
The key summary of the context comes in these paragraphs:
Virtually all of them agree this era of Packers football is missing rings. Many rings. And sure, there’s blame to spread. Some cite former general manager Ted Thompson literally falling asleep in meetings by the end of his tenure. Some cite the defense’s innate ability to self-destruct each January. But central to it all are the two Packers who lasted the longest.
McCarthy and Rodgers. … One former teammate, lamenting this colossal what-if, makes one point on the past crystal clear. “If you were going to write a headline,” he says, “that would be it right there: How Egos Took Down the Packers.”
Dunne also describes a relationship between Rodgers and McCarthy that was fractured from the beginning: The worst-kept secret at 1265 Lombardi Avenue was that Rodgers seemed to loathe his coach from the moment McCarthy was hired.
That was in 2006, and was reportedly fueled by McCarthy’s position on the 49ers staff in 2005 when that team passed on Rodgers in the draft and instead took Alex Smith No. 1 overall. It grew as Rodgers, according to Dunne’s reporting, became frustrated by what he thought of as McCarthy’s low football I.Q.
If McCarthy came across as alternately checked out and trying too hard to take credit for things he didn’t do, Rodgers came across as self-entitled and overly sensitive.
And the conclusion? Only one of the two men is left standing, so maybe now we’ll know who the real problem was.
With McCarthy gone, all eyes, all pressure, all scrutiny, will be directed toward Rodgers. It’s on him to make that sacrifice, to work with others. After all, he brought the magic to Lambeau before.