During the press conference announcing the hiring of Mike McCarthy as Green Bay Packers head coach, William Henderson and Ahman Green stood to the side, observing the scene both to hear the new coach's comments and endorse him.
"I welcome the guy on board," said Henderson, an unrestricted free agent who hopes to re-sign with the Packers. "Assuming everything works out just fine, I'm going to love playing for that guy again."
Henderson is one of six current Packers players, including Rob Davis, Mike Flanagan, Donald Driver, Brett Favre and Ryan Longwell, who played for the team while McCarthy served as quarterbacks coach in 1999.
Although McCarthy coached the quarterbacks, Henderson frequently interacted with him during their offensive installation meetings. Prior to that season, Henderson questioned how much longer he wanted to play in the NFL.
"The year that he was here with Ray Rhodes and that crew rejuvenated my love for the game," Henderson said. "I'm looking forward to having (McCarthy) back."
Henderson praised his personality. He remembers him as a tough but player-friendly coach. The 11-year veteran lauded the latter quality as important for such a young team.
"Younger players are sometimes intimidated to go up and approach a coach," Henderson said. "He's going to take away that angst."
Green had not played under the 42-year-old McCarthy, but he echoed Henderson's words. Both McCarthy's message to the media and his brief interaction with him left him impressed.
"He's a good, solid person," Green said. "From what I've heard so far, he's a player's coach and will definitely have the intensity and discipline that we need around here."
Reached by phone as he vacationed in Las Vegas, Nick Barnett searched McCarthy's background on the Internet as soon as he heard the news of his hiring. Barnett expects to talk with McCarthy when he returns to Green Bay on Jan. 24.
"He has all the right credentials to be a head coach and looks like a good guy," Barnett said. "I look forward to meeting him and talking about our future."
The hiring of a disciple of the West Coast offense -- which the Packers have run since 1992 -- pleased Green. McCarthy used that offense while coaching the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, and Green excelled in the short passing scheme during his six years with the Packers.
"The biggest factor for me for the new coach coming in was what type of offense they were going to run," Green said. "This is awesome."
McCarthy has roots in both the West Coast offense and Green Bay. He still has friends in the area from when he coached the Packers.
"You need Packer people in this locker room," Henderson said. "You need people that can come to a small community like Green Bay and fit in."
Both the Packers players and front office believe they have found a coach who will do just that.
Green Injury Update
Ahman Green discussed his health for the first time since suffering a season-ending quadriceps tendon injury in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Green said he will not be able to run until the end of April or early May. He currently performs rehabilitation drills in the pool, works out on an elliptical machine and lifts weights.
"It's just me rehabbing, getting stronger and getting my leg where it needs to be," Green said. "I'm looking forward to take bigger steps after that."
He injured his thigh during the fourth quarter of the Vikings game when he took a handoff off the right side, and Minnesota Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson tackled him.
Green finished the 2005 season with 77 rushes for 255 yards.