In Wednesday's press conference introducing new Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, owner Jerry Jones tried to insist that the decision to hire McCarthy was based on the 56-year-old's track record in the NFL. Jones made a point to say that so many of the respected football minds he'd met over his time in the league had positive things to say about McCarthy, to the degree that Jones felt he "knew him before he walked through these doors." He even claimed that former head coach Jason Garrett vouched for his replacement.
But by the time the press conference was completed, it was clear that McCarthy won over the Jones family last Saturday during a lengthy interview process in North Texas.
McCarthy admitted that, while he knew there would be future opportunities, he and his wife, Jessica, were hoping that he would be able to land this job with the Cowboys. While it's unclear what exactly was discussed during the interview, executive vice president Stephen Jones said that it lasted nearly 12 hours. McCarthy said that he told the Jones family that, if hired, he would "take care of the honor and privilege and responsibility" of coaching such an iconic franchise, claiming that he "understands what it takes," having coached another proud and accomplished franchise in the Green Bay Packers.
He also said a term that was used multiple times throughout the interview: "we-decisions." They emphasized the importance of being on the same page with both immediate and big-picture decisions.
Jerry, Stephen and Jerry Jr. were all present at the interview, which seemed to become relatively informal as the hours passed by. Stephen claimed that throughout the day he kept finding himself in a sidebar with Jerry or Jerry Jr., and they always tended to agree on how well the interview was going.
"It was just becoming clear that Mike was our guy," said Stephen.
Jerry assumed that there would be a general discussion about the interview after they parted ways with McCarthy, but at one point when he was out of hearing distance from the interviewee, Jerry Jr. approached him and said, "What are you waiting on? Stephen is ready to roll."
Jerry realized that they were all on the same page, "and so we winked at Stephen and we got up." What followed was a moment that McCarthy said he'll remember for the rest of his life.
Jerry told McCarthy a story about when he purchased the team.
"And at the end of the story," said McCarthy, "he leans over and shakes my hand and says, 'And you need to be the coach of the Dallas Cowboys.' I jumped up and hugged him."
It's clear that McCarthy impressed Jones during the interview considering that in 2007 he interviewed 10 candidates before hiring Wade Phillips. When asked about how he could be so sure about McCarthy after spending just a day with him and only formally interviewing one other candidate, Jones told a story of when his sister tried to explain to their father why she was divorcing her then-husband. She told him that she "didn't hear bells" anymore. Speaking of the interview with McCarthy, Jones said with a smile, "The bottom line is … I heard bells."
After an interview that lasted nearly 12 hours, McCarthy returned home to his wife Jessica. "She said I looked 20 pounds lighter and a lot happier."