Mike McCarthy remembers the first time he played in the local “65 Roses” celebrity golf open, as a Packers assistant coach back in 1999.
“It was windy and cold,” he said.
There were no such weather concerns on Monday, with temperatures in the 70s and just a few clouds in the sky at Green Bay Country Club. McCarthy was once again the honorary chairman at the annual event, a role served by all the Packers head coaches dating back to Lindy Infante in 1988.
The event raises money for the fight against cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that can cause debilitating lung infections and is often referred to as “65 roses” by children who have the disease but have trouble pronouncing it. Proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Resource Center at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay and to the Wisconsin Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for in-state research efforts.
“Anytime you can help, especially help people in need,” McCarthy said shortly before teeing off on the first hole of the scramble tournament, which included several players and coaches. “Battling cystic fibrosis is obviously a big challenge.
“I feel blessed and honored to continue the tradition in battling such a tough disease.”
The event actually included just a few Packers players at the beginning, according to Tom Olejniczak, co-chair of the event and a member of the Packers’ board of directors. Olejniczak said his wife was good friends with a woman who was running a local cystic fibrosis office after her son died from the disease, and they discussed starting a charity golf tournament.
Olejniczak eventually asked Infante if he wanted to get involved, and a head-coaching tradition was born. Monday’s 26th annual event would push the total dollars raised past the $600,000 mark, Olejniczak said.
“It is a great tradition,” Olejniczak said. “What’s really nice about it is the Packer family for the most part is here.
“Every coach has been more than gracious to be a part of it.”
After their day in the sunshine, McCarthy and his coaches and players will be back at it on Tuesday for the start of the final week of OTAs. The team then has its three-day mandatory minicamp next week to wrap up offseason workouts. The first training camp practice is slated for July 26.
“We’re making progress. It’s a learning phase for our football team,” McCarthy said of OTAs. “It doesn’t look the way it needs to look, so we have two more weeks. I feel like we’ll accomplish what we need to accomplish, and whatever we don’t accomplish we’ll definitely pick up in training camp and get it done.”