On the message of motivational speaker Kevin Elko, who addressed the team on Saturday night in their 9 o?clock team meeting:McCarthy said the message, which Elko titled ?Outlive Your Life,? hit home. Elko had addressed the team twice before ? the night before the Packers? December 2009 loss at Pittsburgh and the night before their Dec. 19 loss at New England.
?It was something that I think guys really took to heart,? McCarthy said. ?I told the football team yesterday that we?ll all be connected together for the rest of our lives. We?ll all be connected as champions. Hopefully our children will also be connected through this championship. Like I said, Lord knows we broke the record for babies around here the last two years with our players and coaching staff. Super Bowl XLV will always be special and it will definitely outlive all of our lives.?
On reports that the city of Green Bay is considering Ashland Avenue and Ridge Road as candidates to be renamed McCarthy?s Way: While a handful of reporters derided Mayor Jim Schmitt?s idea that the street name be possessive ? it?s not Lombardi?s Avenue or Holmgren?s Way ? McCarthy said he wouldn?t be picky.
?I don?t think I should be real concerned about which street,? the coach said. ?It?s an honor that they would consider doing that.?
On his conversation with President Barack Obama, who called McCarthy on Monday to offer his congratulations: McCarthy said he had ?a neat conversation? with the President, a former Chicagoan and avid Bears fan.
?He started with, ?This is a tough phone call for a Bears fan to make,? but then once he got past that, he was fine. He knew a lot about our football team, and it sounded like he obviously watched the game,? McCarthy said. ?He was very complimentary of our football team and what we endured as a football team. Very complimentary of Aaron Rodgers, notable of Charles Woodson. But that?s one of many (calls). It?s amazing the people you hear from when you experience something like this. It?s been great.?
On the amount of competition there will be on the roster with 15 players returning from injured reserve, joined by draft picks and other additions: McCarthy acknowledged that the Packers could be even more talented a team than they were in 2010, but he also pointed out that more talent won?t necessarily translate to more success.
?Talent. That?s such a dynamic word,? McCarthy said. ?The most important thing is we need to be the best football team again next year. We can be maybe the most talented and best football team. But sometimes the most talented team doesn?t win. We were the best football team in the National Football League this year and lost a lot of talent due to injuries. It?s a great experience for us to learn from.
?I felt that coming out of training camp that we were a very talented team on paper. Because really at that point you can say whatever you want. I know the compliments are nice, but you don?t win championships in Week 1, 2 and 3 based on how you play, and there?s a reason why you play the full season, go into the playoffs and so forth. But yes, we have an opportunity to start the (2011) season as a very talented football team. But we have to make sure we?re the best football team, that everybody?s doing their role, doing what they?re supposed to be doing at the level they?re supposed to be doing it.?
On the improvement of Super Bowl MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers: McCarthy praised the three-year resume Rodgers has compiled but also pointed out that teams will have new game plans for him in 2011 because of his success.
?He is at the point in his game that the game has slowed down for him. But now people are going to study him even more that have three years of information on him,? McCarthy said. ?There is going to be a plan to play Aaron Rodgers, just like everybody feels they have a plan to play the top quarterbacks. So he is going to have to answer that call every week.?
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Steelers blitzed Rodgers (five or more pass rushers) on 59.5 percent of his dropbacks in the Super Bowl, the highest percentage against Rodgers all season and in line with the way they attacked him in Week 15 of 2009, when Pittsburgh rushed five or more 58.8 percent of the time. Rodgers completed 10 of 16 passes and threw all three of his touchdowns on four-man rushes in the Super Bowl.
?We clearly felt that Pittsburgh was going to set their plan around Aaron, which was the case. They tried to roll the pressure at him consistently throughout the game,? McCarthy said. ?So we need to do a very good job as a staff so that the game is not on his shoulders 24/7, and we will do that just with the other assets that we have on offense. But Aaron?s challenge is going to be like everybody else?s. He is going to have to handle the success and his life has already changed. He has been to Disney World and David Letterman in one day. He?s going to have a lot on his plate. He?s going to be doing a lot here in the next month. He needs to enjoy it ?. But I have all the confidence in the world that he?ll manage that. He?s just a very consistent young man.?
On the team?s crop of free agents, led by defensive end Cullen Jenkins: McCarthy was non-committal when asked about Jenkins? future with the team. Jenkins approached the Packers before the season looking for an extension and was rebuffed, and he said Tuesday that he had not heard a peep from the Packers since.
?Cullen Jenkins has been an excellent player for us in my whole time here. Really those types of decisions are something that we?ll be working on here in the coming weeks,? McCarthy said. ?But Cullen is a very good fit for our defense. It?s a part of the landscape of the NFL. I don?t have an answer for you today. I have really enjoyed coaching Cullen. He has been an extremely productive and premier player, especially when he is healthy. I have enjoyed coaching him and hopefully we?ll see what happens.?
Jenkins is one of 12 players who will be unrestricted free agents if the new CBA has the same rules for free agency as the previous one. Also set to hit the market are starting left guard Daryn Colledge; safeties Charlie Peprah, Atari Bigby and Anthony Smith; fullbacks John Kuhn and Korey Hall; No. 3 receiver James Jones; kicker Mason Crosby; third-down back Brandon Jackson; special teams linebacker Matt Wilhelm; and backup guard/center Jason Spitz.
On the team?s leadership: McCarthy said he went out on something of a limb by handing over to the playoff captains the responsibility of speaking to the team before and after games, but he did so because he was concerned about the leadership among players in the past.
?The playoff captains speaking to the team before the game, that is something that just popped in my head. I was thinking about it driving home one night and prayed on it,? McCarthy said. ?I didn?t know if that was the right thing to do. I was never comfortable with the level of leadership on the prior teams that I have coached here, and I thought that would be a great opportunity to try to develop leadership. ? There was a positive response that came from that. It was risky for the head coach to give up the final message to his team before he goes out onto the field. You?ve just got to trust your instincts. I am not perfect, but the one thing I think the players truly know that they get from me, they get the truth and it comes from the heart.
?No one is comfortable delegating leadership, especially when you are the leader. Let?s be honest, everybody has an ego. What I have learned about egos is the ability to have discipline with your ego. It?s fun to drive the car, don?t get me wrong. It?s a lot of fun to have the big chair and the big office, but you have to do what is best for the team.?
On evaluating the season and being critical despite the Super Bowl success: McCarthy joked Wednesday with reporters about their probing questions throughout the season but vowed not to let success go to his head.
?I have walked in here many days and I didn?t think I ever did anything right,? McCarthy cracked. ?There is plenty to improve on. We?re not perfect as a football team by no means just because we won the world championship. There are things that go on during the course of the year that you write down that are already on the board for discussion for next offseason. We have done that every year since I have been here. We?ll just stay true to our mantra on offense and defense and special teams and that?s ?Less volume, more creativity.? We?ll go through and go back through the grades and make sure that our plan is set for next season. But we can definitely improve.?