GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers describes Ben McAdoo as "a grinder," and it's easy to see why.
Throughout his coaching career, McAdoo – the former Packers assistant who's now the head coach of the New York Giants – has taken on any task that's come his way, large or small.
From his first gig as a special teams and offensive assistant at Michigan State in 2001 to breaking into the NFL as a quality control coach with New Orleans in 2004 to coaching two different positions in Green Bay (tight ends from 2006-11 and then quarterbacks from 2012-13), McAdoo was always climbing the ladder, the pace somewhat irrelevant to him.
It was in his first pro job with the Saints where McAdoo met then-offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy and ended up spending a decade with him. When McCarthy moved on to coordinate San Francisco's offense in 2005, he brought McAdoo with him in quality control and to assist the offensive line. He then brought him to Green Bay as well the following year.
McCarthy said on Wednesday he became pretty sure McAdoo would eventually become a head coach in the NFL when he saw him work with Rodgers and the Packers' QBs for two seasons, but it was everything else he saw along the way that forged the respect between the two coaches who will go head-to-head on Sunday night at Lambeau Field.
"He's come up the right way," McCarthy said. "He's done every job you could possibly imagine in the coaching ranks, and that's a big part of his foundation. It's definitely a big part of his success."
McCarthy might be admittedly a little biased, because he came up the same way, getting his NFL start as a quality control coach with Kansas City in 1993 before moving on to quarterbacks.
It's that thankless, endless work in an entry-level position like quality control that McCarthy believes is a benefit to any coach learning the ropes in this business. The job involves a ton of film breakdown to provide scouting reports on opponents and prepare a scout team for the week of practice, among many other behind-the-scenes duties.
Just listen to McAdoo describe it in his conference call with Wisconsin media on Wednesday:
"A lot of things flow downhill in that job and you get a lot of things that pile up on your desk," he said. "I think it teaches you a foundation for offense, defense and special teams that's hard to come by in any other job.
"You really have to grind through it. No one really cares about how many hours you're working, how you feel, or whether you're sleeping on your desk or under your desk. You really get a chance to absorb a lot of football.
"There were some jobs I thought they were trying to kill me, but I made it through, and it was very rewarding in the end."
Like McCarthy, McAdoo always stayed on the offensive side of the ball, but his broad base came through during his eight years in Green Bay.
He left the Packers following the 2013 season to become the Giants' offensive coordinator, and then he took over the head job from veteran coach Tom Coughlin this past offseason.
"Ben is extremely smart," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "I think that's something a lot of people understood if you really got to know him and watched the way he prepared. You could see the knowledge being there."
Now, he's running an offense similar to McCarthy's with Eli Manning as his quarterback, and he got off to a hot start with two wins to open the season.
A challenging stretch culminates Sunday night, though. It's New York's third straight road game, coming on a short week following a Monday night loss in Minnesota, with McAdoo and the Giants looking to avoid a third consecutive loss that would drop them below .500 in a highly competitive NFC East race.
As for whether his knowledge of and history with Rodgers will mean anything come Sunday night, the straightforward and understated McAdoo doesn't believe the past will matter a whole lot.
"I'm not counting on that for much," he said.
He's also not sure how he's going to feel when he returns to Lambeau for the first time as an opposing coach, mostly because he's been a little busy.
"I haven't given it much thought," he said. "It's a quick week for us this week, playing on Monday night, fast turnaround. I'm sure I'll have some emotions when I walk through the tunnel for the first time.
"I'm not someone who's overly emotional or dramatic or any of those types of things. I like to take care of the task at hand and focus on my work."
Just like any grinder would.
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