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McCarthy Looking Forward to Returning to Lambeau Field

Mike McCarthy, who coached the Green Bay Packers from 2006 through 2018, will lead the Dallas Cowboys into Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Mike McCarthy still lives part-time in the Green Bay area with his wife and family. So, it’s not as if he hasn’t driven past Lambeau Field since being fired by the Green Bay Packers almost four years ago.

But it will be a different experience when the buses delivering the Dallas Cowboys to the stadium arrive for Sunday’s game. For the first time since being let go following a loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2, 2018, McCarthy will be on the sideline at the stadium he called home for 13 seasons.

“I wouldn’t say I spend a lot of time thinking about that,” McCarthy, in good humor with his team humming along at 6-2, said during a Monday conference call. “I think just like anything in our league, in our business, it’s the people you always look forward to seeing. So, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing everybody. I expect everybody from the Green Bay media to be in my press conference afterwards, I’ll be taking attendance.

“But I’m looking forward to that and I’m also looking forward to coming out of that locker room in that narrow tunnel, which is by design. Just all the little things. I think it’s just like anything, my mind is really on making sure the team’s ready for just the little intricacies leading up to the game, and we’re coming up there to compete, coming up there to win.”

McCarthy and his family stayed in Green Bay during his year out of coaching and only recently moved to Dallas. The family still spends part of the offseason in the area. It might be awkward to live part-time in the city from which you were fired by its most famous business. Not for McCarthy. It was home and it remains home. Coming off knee surgery, McCarthy said he rehabbed at Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, which is practically located in the shadow of the stadium.

“When I’m in town, if the kids want Sammy's Pizza, I go to Sammy's Pizza,” McCarthy said of the Oneida Street restaurant.

On Sunday, he’s hoping for a warm reception from fans, which would be deserved. In 12 3/4 seasons, he went 125-77-2 and led the team to the playoffs nine times. He’s No. 2 in franchise history in wins behind only Curly Lambeau.

“I actually worked in Green Bay in 1999 when Coach (Mike) Holmgren came back to Lambeau Field for the first time” with the Seattle Seahawks, McCarthy said. “I thought the crowd treated him with respect. It’s a really special place that way, and I would be all for a very positive reception.”

McCarthy’s favorite memory, as you might imagine, is winning the Super Bowl in 2010. It wasn’t just the thrill of victory and basking in the confetti at AT&T Stadium – his new home stadium. It was the build-up to Green Bay’s first championship since 1996.

“I’m talking about everything about it, just the way the team prepared and the confidence that we had before the game,” McCarthy recalled. “C.J. Wilson on the piano the night before the game and the guys standing around the piano signing. The welcoming to Dallas gave to us, the fire engines shooting water over the top of the plane and the biggest escort I’ve ever seen. Just all the things leading up to it and, obviously, beating an excellent Pittsburgh Steeler team and then top it off with the parade. Just great memories.”

When McCarthy was fired with a month to go in the 2018 season, the Packers were in the midst of a span of five losses in six games. Matt LaFleur’s Packers enter Sunday’s game with a five-game losing streak, their longest since 2008. Rodgers, who was MVP of the Super Bowl in 2010 and NFL MVP the last two seasons, has been unable to rescue the Packers. He threw three interceptions in Sunday’s loss at the Detroit Lions.

McCarthy and Rodgers might not have always seen eye to eye, but McCarthy had nothing but praise for the quarterback he helped build into a future Hall of Famer.

“I got a chance to watch him play a lot this weekend,” McCarthy said. “His footwork and ball mechanics, it’s always been off the charts. I still see him playing at a high level. Obviously, he’s playing with a number of different players I’ve been very, very impressed with the video that he has.”

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