Mike Sherman addressed the media Wednesday and spoke candidly of his dismissal for the first time since the Packers relieved him of his coaching duties.
"It's difficult to let go of something you've embraced so passionately for six years," Sherman said.
When General Manager Ted Thompson informed Sherman of his dismissal on Monday morning between 7 and 7:30 a.m., he said he did not make the change because of wins and losses. Sherman went 57-39 during his tenure.
"Ted just felt there was a need at this time to make a change," Sherman said.
Sherman's life will change as well as he moves on from the position he held for the last six years of his life. While he has not decided whether he wants to return to the college or professional ranks, Sherman wants to coach again.
"Oh yes," he said, when asked if he thought coaching was in his future.
The former head coach, however, did not want to focus on the future. He had planned to spend Monday examining the team's offensive tendencies in the red zone to improve that area for next year. He would have evaluated potential free agents next week.
Instead he spent Monday afternoon cleaning out his belongings from his office -- a major undertaking. Over the years fans have sent him bobbleheads, blankets, four-leaf clovers, pictures, rosaries blessed by the pope and other items.
On Tuesday he celebrated the 19th birthday of his daughter, Emily.
He experienced another poignant event when he met with the players on Monday morning following Thompson's announcement to the team. As Sherman entered the team meeting room, the players gave him a standing ovation.
"It was a moment I'll never forget the rest of my life," he said. "That was a very special moment for me."
Sherman then told the players that they had filled him with pride. He praised them for playing hard and remaining accountable every week. He challenged them to be "the best they can be" from here on out as men and as football players.
"It was a pretty emotional time," he said.
Brett Favre, who left Green Bay, Wis. on Sunday night, is the one player Sherman has yet to meet with. However, Favre's agent and Sherman's close friend, James "Bus" Cook left a phone message at Sherman's home on Tuesday night.
"My wife said, 'somebody called with the most southernest accent I've ever heard in my life,'" said Sherman, who displayed his sense of humor throughout his remarks to the media.
Sherman plans to meet with Favre at the quarterback's hometown in Hattiesburg, Miss.
"I told him before he left to get the two-seated tractor out," Sherman said, "and we'll go drive around the property."
Favre had no input into Thompson's coaching decision. The general manager kept the decision to himself and President and CEO Bob Harlan for three days before informing Sherman. But Sherman was glad he waited until after season's end to talk to him. Delaying the announcement allowed him to focus on coaching against the Seattle Seahawks.
"I would rather not have known," Sherman said. "I appreciate the fact that he waited until the end of the season."
Able to focus solely on the Seahawks, the Packers defeated them 23-17, upping their record to 4-12. The 2005 season represents the only losing season of Sherman's tenure as head coach of the Packers. Although Sherman praised the hard work of his players, he sought a better record. He had hoped to capture a fourth straight division title for the first time in franchise history.
"The way they fought through tough times was extraordinary," Sherman said. "That doesn't dismiss the fact that we were disappointed we weren't able to fulfill our goals on Sunday."
Injuries depleted the Packers' roster, serving as one of Sherman's greatest challenges of the 2005 season. Thirteen players ended the year on injured reserve, including impact players like Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport, Bubba Franks, Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson. With a healthier squad, Sherman said they would have earned 10 wins.
"I believe that with all my heart," he said.
The Packers finished with 10 wins last year and won the NFC North. After that season, Harlan, citing concerns for Sherman's health while handling both responsibilities, hired Thompson to assume the general manager duties Sherman previously held.
"He's in a tough position," Sherman said. "He came in and the former general manager, the former head coach was here. ... Ted had to make a tough decision. I don't agree with the decision, but I respect the decision."
That decision becomes most difficult on Sherman's family -- children Sarah, Emily, Matthew, Benjamin and Selena and his wife, Karen.
"It's a lot harder on the family than it is the coach," he said. "Coaches are fairly resilient. We've been through this. We understand the process. We see it happen a lot."
But Sherman acknowledged such displacement as part of the coaching business. Indeed Sherman has coached at the University of Pittsburgh, Tulane, Holy Cross, Texas A&M, the Seahawks and the Packers during his 27 years of coaching. The Packers represented a special job for him, and he fondly remembers the day he was hired as head coach of the "Green and Gold."
"I appreciate the opportunity I was given in January of 2000 to become the 13th head coach of the Green Bay Packers," Sherman said. "The past six years have been very special to me and my family."
Whoever succeeds Sherman will receive that special opportunity and lead a squad that Sherman deemed ready for a strong 2006 season.
"I don't think this team is very far away," Sherman said. "Having a good draft, getting guys back, getting guys healthy, the Packers will be fine next season. I have no doubt in my mind about that."