FRISCO, TX — When the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles in the all-important rematch at AT&T Stadium on Sunday evening, head coach Mike McCarthy won't simply be in attendance but, only four days after having undergone an emergency appendectomy, he'll be on the sideline calling plays for Dak Prescott and his No. 1-ranked offense.
It's yet another testament to the ability of the Cowboys to overcome adversity this season, but this one came with a very real medical scare that, if not diagnosed quickly, could've devolved quickly into a life-threatening situation.
"I felt like I had a stomach virus for quite some time and, based on where the pain was, I never thought it would be the appendix," said McCarthy on his first day back in the building on Friday. "It wasn't on my right side. I had a rough night — on Monday and Tuesday night. On Wednesday, I came in early and had [head athletic trainer Jim Maurer] look at it, so we ran over to the hospital to have it scanned and make sure everything was fine.
"And that's when they revealed it was the appendix and, obviously, I had to go to surgery. But I feel good, and I anticipate everything staying normal come Sunday night."
McCarthy has been fully cleared medically and stated there are no additional follow-up appointments required between now and Dec. 10.
"Feeling great," he said. " … I'm good to go."
Of course, however, he's not yet at 100 percent.
"I'm sure it's no different than anybody else," said McCarthy. "I think every surgery is a little different. And I had this a little longer than I thought I had, just based on the information from the surgeon, but I'm fine. I'm sore, as I'm sure you're supposed to be in Day 2 post-op."
There is an inherent risk with McCarthy standing on the sideline as opposed to the safety of the coaches' box, but he's not naive to that and explained there will be precautions taken — inserting some humor into the conversation as only McCarthy can.
"Yeah, definitely. I mean, I'm definitely aware of that," he said. "I'll probably need to get the bigger assistants standing next to me than I currently have, but I'll definitely be in touch with that."
So if you see some Avengers-like formations keeping McCarthy from being touched, just know that's all according to plan.
Having now returned to the Cowboys' facility, McCarthy is thankful to have the support system he does in Dallas, and that includes talented and battle-tested veteran coordinators who conducted meetings and practice this week in his absence; and locker room leaders such as Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence who made sure the operation ran in top gear.
"I think it was huge," McCarthy explained. "I think it just speaks to the culture and the process that we have here. We just completed a coordinators' meeting here this past half hour, and that's exactly what we concluded with. I had no stress. I was at peace with the direction and the correction, the installation of everything that went in on Thursday, and the pandemic taught us these things.
"Having the ability to be connected from my home office was very helpful. I'm fortunate to have that in place."
With so much at stake on Sunday, McCarthy is ecstatic to be back with his team.
"[Since I've been] released from the hospital, I've been totally engaged in the gameplan," he said. "I'm focused on doing my part on Sunday night. I need to do a hell of a job. We're all committed to this and that's really where my mind is right now."