A Closer Look At McCarthy's 'Year Of Reflection'

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FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys' head coaching job brings warmer climes than Green Bay, Wisconsin. But Mike McCarthy hasn't seen much of January in North Texas yet.

"I haven't been outside since I got off (Cowboys owner Jerry Jones') helicopter," McCarthy said with a smile, referring to the ride he took to The Star for his Jan. 8 introductory press conference. "I need to get outside, especially coming from Green Bay."

McCarthy knows there will be time to settle in with his new surroundings. For the last two weeks, he has been hard at work inside The Star, meeting new colleagues and building his coaching staff.

Last year, McCarthy, 56, was away of organized football for the first time in his adult life. He doesn't describe 2019 as disappointing, though.

He calls it a gift.

"This past year has been a year of reflection," he said at his introductory press conference, briefly choking up. "My wife said I wouldn't make it through 10 words. I think I got to about six.

"A reflection of what just a blessed man I am. Great moments that I've been a part of. My wife is the love of my life. We have beautiful children. Come from a blessed family. Professionally, I was able to lift the Lombardi Trophy (in 2010)."

McCarthy's 13-year tenure as Green Bay Packers head coach ended abruptly. With four games left in the 2018 season, the organization informed him it was moving in a different direction near the end of a 6-9-1 finish.

The 2010 Super Bowl champion coach used it as fuel – a chance to look at "the person in the mirror" and evaluate how to become a better coach.

McCarthy huddled with a group of trusted coaches to stay in tune with the league.

He had 175 boxes of old tapes in his garage that he pored through. He watched current film of the league. He worked with Pro Football Focus to gain a better understanding of analytics and trends. He evaluated every hire he ever made, his past scheduling, schemes, you name it. 

"I looked at the offensive scheme, structure, how we spent time on scheduling, CBA rules and how they continue to evolve," he said. "Frankly, I tried to look at everything I possibly could."

That motivation, and preparation, made an impression on the Jones family during a 12-hour interview in early January.

"As it proceeded, it just became obvious that he was going to be a great fit for our organization," Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. "When we looked at it and Jerry and I started having sidebars and Jerry Jr. and I started having sidebars, the three of us did, it was just becoming clear that Mike was our guy.

"It's just great to have him. Certainly you look at his track record, it's all been said. It was the right fit for us in terms of what we were wanting to get accomplished with this hire."

McCarthy spent his year off at home in Green Bay. Naturally there were emotions involved, having been the Packers coach for so many years there. He appreciates the way the city treated his family throughout the years, then and now.

But it's on to a new challenge.

"It's really the reality of what a privilege it is to work in the National Football League," he said. "And when you are out and you're not part of it, it really makes you take a step back and evaluate what it takes from a commitment standpoint to succeed.

"I just think it just really gives you a chance to evaluate where you are and what you have left. And frankly I believe this is what I was put on this Earth to do professionally. I'm a football coach. And I'm working at the most iconic franchise in all of professional sports. It doesn't get any better than that."

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