Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - July 26


OK, first thing because I know it's been a while since we have been together, I want to give you a roster update and a schedule update. We currently have 76 players on our roster. We have six players that we have tenders and Russ Ball will continue to work on that as we move forward into training camp tomorrow. The schedule for players today is our travel day. That will go on throughout the day. Tomorrow they are required to be here starting at 7:30. We'll have physicals and the run test in the a.m. We'll have our administrative meetings in the afternoon, and then we'll start with our football meetings tomorrow night. Obviously our first practice is Monday at 8:45. With that, I can see all of the excitement in the room for the 2008 season, so let's get started.

(Where do things stand with Brett Favre?)

I really don't have anything to update with Brett beyond where he is with what options that are left in front of him. I know Mark Murphy spoke Thursday at length in here. I really don't have anything else to update you.

(If he shows up, what do you do? Do you keep him out of the facility)

No, no. The first step is reinstatement. I think everybody understands all of the options that are in front of Brett and the Green Bay Packers. The first step is reinstatement and the second is he would be a part of our 80-man roster and then we'll move from there.

(So you are not aware of whether he will report to camp or not?)

Am I aware? No, nothing has been confirmed with me through the organization or through the league office.

(Did he inform you or Ted Thompson that he was coming?)

No one has informed myself from the organization or the league office has not confirmed anything.

(So a conversation between Thompson and Favre did not take place where he told him that he planned to come to camp?)

There have been conversations that have taken place between Brett Favre and Ted Thompson. Now, as far as does he want to, is he thinking to? Those are different...has he thought about it? I'm sure he has. Has he confirmed anything? Nothing has been confirmed.

(When did you last talk to Brett?)

I saw him Saturday at the hall of fame banquet. I talked to him for quite a while there, and then we had some, I guess if you count texting as communication, I heard from him yesterday.

(What did he say?)

Nothing that really changes anything we are talking about.

(Can you clarify what the quarterback situation will be if Brett shows up?)

Hypothetical situation, I guess I can anticipate we are going to do this for a while here. Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. That has been stated over and over again. I hope we can finally understand that. That's where we are as an organization; that's where we are as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. I don't know how else to answer your question.

(At what point did you reach the conclusion that Aaron Rodgers was going to be the starting quarterback?)

I don't have a date for you, but the point is Brett retired. Did he think about coming back? Yes. Thinking and committing are two different scenarios, and we've moved forward as a football team. Frankly, time and time again I've talked to the football team about this. We've moved forward from day one, March 17, and I'm talking about as a football team. That's been the focus; that's always been the focus. I know a lot has been put on the quarterback position, but you're either moving forward or moving backwards. We've taken every step along the way in our offseason program planning and preparing every member of our football team to move forward. When that date came about, I really don't have a date for you, but we're committed to Aaron Rodgers. This is an excellent opportunity for Aaron Rodgers. We're excited about him. I am confident that he will take full advantage of the opportunity, and that's where we stand today. It's been talked about over and over again, so that's where we are. I understand all of the different lines of questions, but nothing has changed.

(What is the status of reported trade discussions with the Jets and the Buccaneers?)

Those are not conversations for me. The organization's policy is we've never talked about trade talks, potential player acquisitions or anything, so that's not really what I am here for today. I understand what is in the media. I am well informed just like you are, but right now the options are clear and right now I am getting ready to coach the 80 guys that are on our roster.

(In your conversations with Brett during this entire process, has he ever said that he was 100 percent committed to coming back and playing?)

Not specifically as you just stated. I think he is going through a lot as far as making his decision. I'll just say this again; I'm not here to speak for Brett Favre. He definitely has the ability to do that for himself. The focus from day one, and it still is today, as an organization we have taken the high road through this whole process for as difficult as it has been, and we've always operated in the best interest of the Packers and also with the utmost respect for Brett Favre, and that's the facts. It's been a part of every conversation that I have been in with Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson. That has never changed. I know all of the things that have been reported and said. You can do what you want to with that, but has always been our focus, period.

(Would you like him to make a decision and stick with it?)

I'm focused on football. It's time to coach. That's where I am at. We've had a hell of a summer; it's been great. ESPN has been awesome. I never have watched so much of it in my life. Yeah, a little props for you. I'm trying to get you off my butt here, Sal.

(How much have you had to speak with Aaron during this process to reassure him?)

I have spoken with Aaron a couple of times. I have talked with him by phone a couple of times this summer, two or three times I think tops. I missed him yesterday in the office. He has been in town all week. He knows where we stand. It's a great opportunity for him and he has the full support of the organization.

(Who gives you the best chance to win in 2008, Rodgers or Favre?)

For as simple as a question as that sounds, it's obviously a lot more complicated than that. Aaron Rodgers is our starting quarterback, and we've come to that decision because of a number of different factors. Once again, it's a great opportunity for him and I'm excited about him. I think he's prepared himself for this opportunity and that's where we are.

(Do you open tomorrow's team meeting with a message about having to deal with this distraction?)

It is the first opportunity we've had to be together since June 19. The first thing I want to remind them of is how confident and how strong we felt as a football team when we walked out those doors of the meeting on June 19, so that will be the first part. I will address the Brett Favre situation with the football team.

(How difficult and realistic is it to keep this from being a distraction if Brett shows up?)

It will be a challenge, there is no doubt about it, but it's a new challenge and a new year. Different than anything that I have personally experienced, but it's something that I can promise you we'll have a plan for and it will be dealt with directly. It will be dealt with up front. That's the way we have dealt with everything with our football team, and that will not change. Frankly, I think our football team, particularly the players, have handled this better than anybody. I have been very impressed with the feedback from the players and very impressed with how they have handled it. I just saw Al Harris in the locker room and he couldn't have gone on ESPN or NFL Network any two worse days than he did. I thought he did a great job with that. I think that speaks volumes about the football team, the people on our team, and how in tune they are with where we at in our development as a football team.

{sportsad300}(Al said on both occasions that he would love to have Brett back as the starting quarterback. Any concern about some of the veteran guys wanting Brett and some of the younger players wanting Aaron?)

I don't think it's a huge concern because it will not be the first time the coach and any of the players have a disagreement. We disagree quite often, but the most important part of disagreeing is having the ability to communicate. I've talked about it in here before; conflict is good, it brings a result in order. I'm sure as we move throughout the season we're going to have a number of situations that occur. This is big, it's well publicized, I'm not naïve to that, but it will be discussed. The direction will be made clear to everybody, and then everybody will be held accountable to move in that direction. It's as simple as that.

(Realistically, how soon can you have a final resolution on this?)

I don't know. I've been wrong all summer. That's the truth. I do not have an answer for you.

(If Brett shows up, will he practice on Monday?)

The first step is reinstatement, and the second is passing a physical, just like everybody else. We'll answer that as we go.

(Do you have a plan to deal with how the reps will be divided if Brett is here?)

I've talked about it, but nothing is concrete. It's something that we have talked about.

(Why so much confidence in Aaron?)

I've had the opportunity to work with Aaron now going on three years, so I think he has prepared himself for this opportunity. Once again, we are committed to him and it's his time to lead the football team.

(Has this process been draining for you?)

That's part of my job responsibility. I don't like talking on the phone that much; I ain't going to lie to you. I never have, but that's just the way it is.

(If you have tailored this offense around Aaron, why is it so hard to go back to what Brett did best if he wants to come back?)

It's not really a factor of going back, and it's not the factor of tailoring the offense to Aaron Rodgers. That's something that was reported; that's something that never came out of my mouth. I think it's important when you structure offense, that any quarterback in your system or that the quarterback has the ability to come into your system can operate. This is not a case of, 'Oh my God, we have to change everything.' I know that has been said, but I don't recall myself saying that or any coach making that statement.

(After reinstatement and then a physical, what comes next?)

If we get to that point, number one. See what kind of shape he is in, just like you do with any player that you haven't seen in a while. See what kind of shape he is in; we haven't seen Brett since the last game. I saw him Saturday night. He looks good; he looks like he is in good shape. We'll have some type of workout for him. We'd have to evaluate where he is.

(So you might have a workout, and then what?)

We have a program for that. Maybe one or two options; put him through the individual part of it, put him in the rehab or prehab program. We'd have to see what kind of shape he is in first.

(Do you know if Brett has been working out with the same people he did in the past?)

API? My understanding is he has not.

Would there be any concern about his conditioning?)

He is obviously genetically gifted. I don't think anybody can deny that. That's something I would wait to have an opinion on.

(How difficult was it for you to tell Brett that the team was moving on?)

My recollection of that conversation and his is a little different, but things that were said in that conversation were number one, in the best interest of the football team. To me, when I talked to Brett on June 20, it still wasn't confirmed that he wanted to come back, that he was 100 percent. That's really the essence of the conversation that was important to me. I know we talked for a long time. I know it's been tough on him. It's a process that none of us wanted to go through. It's not like Brett Favre called me up and I said, 'No way, you can't come back.' That wasn't the case.

Fifty dollars for a question not about Brett Favre.

(If you're ready to move on, why the reluctance to trade or release Brett?)

That's not my area. Once again, player transactions, acquisition, trades, it's an organization policy, and I'm not up here to discuss that. It's not my place.

(I need the money Mike. What is Johnny Jolly's status?)

Johnny Jolly has done well with his rehab. I hope that's not against the gambling policy here or I'll get in trouble. Yeah, we're amongst friends I'm sure.

(Specifically the legal issue...)

I don't really have anything to report. I know there was a legal, court date Tuesday that was postponed. That's where we are with Johnny's case.

(All things considered, do you think you can improve on a very successful season that you had last year?)

Our focus is on improving. Now, how many games are we going to win? I don't believe in predictions. But I'll tell you what, we have improved in a number of areas, and it starts with your offseason program. I thought our players did a great job going into last year improving on an individual basis, and you saw it in their production. I'm talking about Jason Spitz, I'm talking about Daryn Colledge, Tramon Williams, Atari Bigby. You could see where a young player stepped up and made a significant contribution to our football team. We took a very similar approach again this year, and as far as the way we came out of our offseason program, it was better than last year. How that results, time will tell. But I'm excited about it. I can't ask any more than our football team gave us in the offseason program. We challenged them because of our training camp schedule. We haven't talked about that in a while, but we have less practices than we've had the last two years in training camp, so we have that challenge of getting ready. So we asked more time, more commitment, did more with our team throughout the spring, and we were able to hit those targets. That's where we are. June 19 everybody felt very good about our football team, and when we get together tomorrow, we need to pick up from where we left off, and that's our focus.

(How fired up are you to get out on the field?)

Can't happen soon enough. Every coach is excited about this time of year. It's a blessing personally to be able to lead the Green Bay Packers out onto Lambeau Field for my third season, so I'm excited about that. I'm really excited about the development of our team. We're going to have tremendous competition throughout. Unfortunately, we're going to have to probably cut some very good football players when we get down to the 53. Those are good problems to have, but there's a lot of players who put a lot of extra time in, and it's just an exciting time for us.

(Did the situation with Brett catch you by surprise?)

It's gone on so long for me personally, so I can't really talk about a surprise. But the way it's gone has been disappointing. I'll say that. You can say that's a surprise.

(How has it been disappointing?)

I don't think this is necessary, why we're here today, and just the course it's gone.

(Any concerns with Ryan Grant potentially not being here on Monday?)

Yes, it's a business matter once again. We talked about that in the spring. I am concerned, because missing OTAs is a lot different than missing training camp practices. I know both sides are working diligently to get this business matter resolved, and I'm hopeful we do that in a short time frame. But I'm very impressed with Ryan Grant and the way he handled it throughout the spring. I'm hopeful we'll get it resolved here soon.

(Is he in town and ready to go?)

I don't know that. I have not seen him.

(With the workout you might have for Brett, do you see a circumstance where he doesn't pass it and then you release him?)

I've never thought about it, just to answer your question. It's really a hypothetical situation. Just based on seeing Brett Saturday, he looks like he's in good shape. It's just a normal procedure you put any of your players through when they come back.

(So if he shows up and passes the workout, he'll be practicing, barring you releasing him?)

I'd say that's probably a good approach, yeah.

(It seemed like Brian Brohm held the ball too long during offseason work, taking sacks. What did you see from him?)

I don't disagree with your observation as far as holding the ball. But I also have been around a number of young quarterbacks, and I think that's a normal learning curve that Brian is experiencing. That's something that we need to improve on. But I'll say this about Brian. I have not had a rookie quarterback pick up the mental part as fast as he has. He's been extremely confident in the huddle for a young quarterback, and that comes to his ability to pick up the offense as quickly as he has. He just needs reps. He needs reps just like every young quarterback that's come down the road. That's what we're focused on.

(Will Jolly report tomorrow?)

Johnny will report tomorrow, that's my understanding.

(So he is cleared to practice?)

Physically we'll probably be smart with him because of his shoulder. Pat McKenzie will see him tomorrow, and I'll have more information on it.

(How about Justin Harrell?)

He's not ready yet. I would say, if I had to do it today, I'd probably list him week to week.

(If Rodgers is the starting quarterback, I think some fans are confused why it wouldn't be a competition with him and Brett?)

I don't think it's confusing. It's a decision that's been made. There's a plan in place. Right now as we stand here today, Brett Favre is retired/reserve. I don't see that as confusing at all.

(So that couldn't change?)

There's been a lot that's happened, and no one wants to say it or talk about it. There's a lot that's gone on here in the last month or so, and the decision or direction has been pointed, and that's the one we're sticking to. I don't know how else to keep answering this question. I understand you have to keep coming at me with different angles, but the answer is not going to change.

(Do you see Brohm and Matt Flynn getting as many reps if Brett is here?)

I'm not there yet. That's something that's a hypothetical situation if Brett is here, and that's something I need to work through.

(Is Brett's locker still in place?)

There's a locker there.

(So you didn't ship it to him?)

No, I don't think so.

(Will Harrell start out on PUP?)

I'll know more tomorrow. I saw Justin I want to say yesterday, and I talked to Pat briefly. But once we get through the official physical, I'll know more. Like I said, when I talked to Pat McKenzie yesterday, he would classify him week to week right now.

(Did he have anything more done to his back?)

No, he was just going through the rehab. He's been here the whole time, and everything has been extremely positive.

(How about the other injured guys like Colin Cole, Will Blackmon, and Kabeer?)

Cole, once again, I think he'll be fine. I don't think we'll have any setbacks with Colin. Blackmon, just the communication I've received, he's ready to go. It just all goes based on today and tomorrow with the physicals. I don't see any problems. Kabeer, I saw him running in the swim-ex Thursday. He looks like he's ready to go. I don't anticipate any problems with that group.

(If a player goes on national television and basically calls his boss a liar, how do you deal with that?)

Just how we're dealing with it today, and how we've dealt with it since Day 1. We've taken the high road, for as difficult as it's been at times, that's where we are as an organization. That's where Mark Murphy is based on his communication, that's where Ted Thompson is, and that's where I am.

(Is this the toughest thing you have had to deal with as a coach?)

Yeah, I'd say so. I think that would be accurate.

(In what way?)

Time. Commitment of time. It's about winning football games, and there's been a large time commitment to this.

(Do you feel the relationship with Brett has been strained at all?)

I don't want to sit up here and get all ... I expect that from Jason. Just kidding, Jason. But it's been a challenge.

(Is there any chance that Brett will be the starting quarterback for the Packers again?)

You never say never. Once again, he's on reserve/retired, and if he reinstates he'll be a part of our roster. That's about as far as really we can go.

(Do you feel that the team has handled this properly or do you think mistakes have been made along the way?)

I think that's a great question. We've talked about a number of times doing an autopsy of this situation, because I think there are so many lessons to learn from this. I think the first aspect you have to look closely at is communication. Usually when you have problems and things get to the point that we're in right now, it's potentially a problem. All those things will be looked at. There is no script for this, because if there is one, we would have found it already. But I'll just say this. I think as an organization, and the people involved in the organization, I think we've handled it the right way based on doing what's best for the Green Bay Packers, and also respecting Brett Favre and his career here. That has been a challenge.

(Are you concerned at all that the relationship will be adversarial now in the future?)

Well, it takes two sides to every relationship. I know how the Green Bay Packers feel, and they're very strong as far as their commitment to people that work here, the traditions of the Green Bay Packers, and the legacies of the players who have played here. I know there's a very strong respect and willingness to continue that relationship.

(You received a standing ovation from fans at the shareholders meeting the other day; do you feel like the fans think you are doing the right thing and how much does that matter to you?)

I know if I was a fan, on the outside looking in, you don't have all the facts, you're not privy to all the conversations. I just hope they respect the fact that we're going about this in a positive manner with the Packers organization's best interests at hand. It's really as simple as that. They can disagree. That's OK. I'm not going to sit here and say I've made every decision that's been correct. I'm fine with that. But the disagreeable part of it, when you deal with an organization or a group trying to move forward, that's what holds you back. I respect their passion, I respect everything about our fans. There's nothing like them. I thought the shareholders meeting was an experience, personally I've never been to the shareholders meeting, I thought it was a very positive experience. But my father told me along time ago that not everybody is going to like you. Get over it. That's life.

(You said you are not tailoring the offense to Aaron, but do you feel like you have tailored your message to the team that you have to move on, and it would be tough to go back on that?)

Frankly, Jason, I think you did a better job of describing it than I was trying to earlier. Moving forward as a football team is really the identity of the whole football team. Brett Favre has had an incredible career here. He's been the focal point of the Green Bay Packers, the face of the Green Bay Packers, and obviously I've participated in that the last two years. And how you approach football games and the ability to have the quarterback go out there and win that game for you week in and week out, that's a tough task, there's no doubt about it. But the football team has moved forward with the emphasis on defense, because that's what I believe in, and that's what the philosophy as we move forward will be. Defense will be our starting point. That will be the common thread that runs through the football team. Now this is nothing new, as far as our approach, but we've always had the veteran quarterback there, so I look for our defense to do bigger things, the individuals on that defense to step forward. And that carries over right into the special teams. To me, I feel they're connected, the style of play, the type of players we have on both the defense and special teams. And really the third part is the offense. The ability on offense to score points, whether you have to run it 50 times or pass it 50 times, and we've been able to work our way to that as a football team. That's the part that I'm trying to say we've moved forward as a football team. It has nothing to do with who's playing. That, in my view, philosophy-wise is what it's supposed to look like.

(Aaron has been patient, waiting for his turn, so do you think it would damage his development to sit another year and make it harder for the team to re-sign him?)

Those are all very practical concerns, but because of the direction and the commitment we've made to Aaron and the direction this 2008 football team is going, it's something I'm not concerned about.

(Ted is your boss; did he order you to go with Aaron as your starting quarterback, or did he defer to your quarterback expertise and allow you to make that call?)

I'll say this ... the only thing I've ever been ordered to do as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers is to come to these press conferences, and that's the truth. We're 100 percent committed to Aaron.

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