Mike McCarthy on Packers firing: ‘It couldn’t have been handled any worse’

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on rumors about his future: 'Negativity is an unfortunate part of this business …'

Mike McCarthy, fired in December by the Packers after nearly 13 seasons, went into detail about his dismissal for the first time in a candid Q&A with ESPN

McCarthy believes the situation “couldn’t have been handled any worse” and explained that his exit stuck with him for a while as he has spent time figuring out what’s next for him.

“The timing surprised me. Actually it stunned me,” McCarthy said. “But time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that’s where I’m at now. And it’s clear to me now that both sides needed a change.”

McCarthy’s firing came after the Packers lost to the Cardinals on Dec. 2, marking the first time Green Bay made an in-season coaching change in more than 60 years. He explained he was called into Packers president Mark Murphy’s office after the loss where the two discussed his future with the organization.

McCarthy described the conversation to ESPN:

“Anytime you lose a close game, it’s a difficult time emotionally afterwards, but when you lose a home game at Lambeau Field in December, it’s really hard. And that hasn’t happened very often. I walked out of my press conference, and I’m thinking about the game, thinking about how our playoff shot was now minimal. That’s where my head was at. And when I was told Mark Murphy wanted to see me — and the messenger was cold and the energy was bad. Mark said it was an ugly loss, and it was time to make change. He said something about the offense and the special teams, and he didn’t think it was going to get any better. There was no emotion to it. That was hard,” he said.

“Every time I released an individual, you get your words right. There’s a personal component to it. You know he has a family. He’s family. There wasn’t any of that. So that was off. The way people leave that building was very important to me. That’s a part of the business,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully moving forward for guys like Clay (Matthews) and Randall (Cobb) and Nick Perry and Jordy Nelson and T.J. Lang, it’s important for them to leave the right way. That way represents the Green Bay Packers standard that I tried to uphold every day.”

When asked if McCarthy believes he deserved a better ending, he said: “Obviously.”

McCarthy went on to say his dismissal “was hard to swallow,” but he received an outpouring of support from a variety of former players, owners and media members that made it more bearable.

“When we won the Super Bowl, I received over 200 texts. That week, I had over 500,” McCarthy said. “I got more than twice as many messages for getting fired then I did when I won the damn Super Bowl. It’s remarkable. They were from current and former players, competitors, owners of other NFL teams, politicians, media members, guys I competed against that I had never even talked to. I was blown away by it, and still am.”