GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers’ head-coaching vacancy should be appealing for one big reason.
He plays quarterback and signed a four-year, $134 million contract extension this year.
Two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, though, will not be involved in the process of selecting Mike McCarthy’s successor, but is free to provide input, team president Mark Murphy said on Monday.
And that seems fine with Rodgers, who said he was focused on the Packers’ final four games under interim coach Joe Philbin.
“I think there’s an interest in who the next guy will be, but (Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst) and I have always had good lines of communication, their offices, like they say, are always open,” Rodgers said. “I’m not needing to be involved in that process.”
Murphy said Rodgers was also not part of the decision to fire McCarthy following the stunning 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that dropped Green Bay to 4-7-1. Chances of making the playoffs are slim.
It appeared that most players had already left Lambeau Field by that point, with many Packers saying they had learned of the firing on social media or through text messages.
“Found out probably the same way you did at the same time you did,” receiver Davante Adams said on Monday. “I was definitely surprised. But, it’s a business and business is business, and that’s what it is.”
Rodgers was already home to celebrate his 35th birthday when he found out.
“I’m sure I found out the same way that most of you found out,” Rodgers said, “and was just as shocked as many of you were.”
“I think him and I, like any relationship, we have our amazing times, we have our times where we butt heads,” Rodgers said. “But the basis, like I said, was built on mutual respect and communication. … We spent time together and growing our friendship and we accomplished a lot together.”
From Adams to Rodgers, nearly every player in the locker room spoke highly of McCarthy, who overall had a successful tenure of 12-plus seasons highlighted by a Super Bowl win in the 2010 season. The 55-year-old McCarthy led the Packers to nine playoff appearances and four trips to the NFC title game overall.
But offensive struggles this year followed a 2017 season in which Rodgers broke his right collarbone and the team missed the postseason. In 2016, the Packers started 4-6 before winning eight straight to get to the conference championship game.
Murphy said it was time to make a change after the embarrassing loss to Arizona.
“I don’t want to get into the details, but he was very professional,” Murphy said when asked how McCarthy reacted to his dismissal. “He’s a first-class person … and made a comment that, ‘It’s the coaching profession. I know what I got into when I became a coach.'”
Gutekunst will be heavily involved, along with a committee, in hiring the next coach, though the decision will belong to Murphy, the highest-ranking executive in the NFL’s only publicly owned franchise. He adjusted the Packers’ organizational structure in January, when Gutekunst was promoted to replace Ted Thompson as GM, to have McCarthy report directly to the team president.
“The structure, again, you’re focused on the structure,” Murphy said in response to one of several questions about how the Packers’ organizational flow chart could be perceived by potential coaching candidates. “The most important thing is the people and the relationships.
“Brian and I have a great relationship,” Murphy said. “I think we’ll be in good shape, and I’m confident we’ll be able to hire an excellent coach.”
Murphy has more football experience than the average team president, having played safety under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs for the Washington Redskins. Also a lawyer, Murphy had extensive experience in sports administration before becoming Packers president/CEO in 2007. He was athletic director at Northwestern, where he hired coach Pat Fitzgerald, before coming to Green Bay.
Murphy also views Philbin as a candidate. He would like to evaluate the veteran assistant and former Dolphins head coach over the next four weeks.
Off the field, the move to dismiss McCarthy gave the Packers an early start on the coaching search. Murphy and Gutekunst offered few specifics when asked what they were looking for in the next coach, other than that would the team would wait until after the season to make a hire.
“I think this decision was about changing our course more than anything,” Gutekunst said. “We just felt like it was a time to change the course.”
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