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Mike McCarthy
Mike McCathy in a Dallas, Cowboys Hat
McCarthy as Cowboys head coach in 2021
Dallas Cowboys
Position: Head coach
Personal information
Born: November 10, 1963 (1963-11-10) (age 57)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Career information
High school: Bishop Boyle
(Homestead, Pennsylvania)
College: Baker
Undrafted: 1987
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
  • Super Bowl champion (XLV)
  • Maxwell Football Club NFL Coach of the Year (2011)
Head coaching record
Regular season: .600
Postseason: .556
Career: .597
Coaching stats at PFR

Michael John McCarthy (born November 10, 1963) is an American football coach. He is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). From from 2006 to 2018 he was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. In 2011 he led the team to a win in Super Bowl XLV over his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. He was previously the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints.

During his 14 seasons as a head coach in the NFL, McCarthy has an overall regular-season record of 131-87-2. He is among the only four head coaches (Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, and Bill Belichick) to lead one franchise to eight straight playoff appearances. In all time wins for leading the Packers, McCarthy is second only to Curly Lambeau.

Early life

McCarthy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, in the blue-collar neighborhood of Greenfield. His mother, Ellen McCarthy, was a secretary and worked restaurant jobs. His father, Joe McCarthy, was a firefighter for the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau and an officer for the Pittsburgh Police. He also owned a bar called Joe McCarthy’s Bar and Grill, where Mike spent his Sunday's cleaning after church. Joe raised McCarthy as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

McCarthy was one of five siblings. He has three sisters Colleen, Ellen, and Kellie, and a younger brother Joseph McCarthy III (d. 2015). Mike attended St. Rosalia primary school where he played basketball. He later made annual donations to the school. McCarthy attended Bishop Boyle High School.

Playing career

In 1984, McCarthy attended Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, playing one season for the Fighting Artichokes football team. McCarthy transferred to Baker University, an NAIA school located in Baldwin City, Kansas. He was a two-time all-conference tight-end. In 1986 McCarthy was captain of the team, which finished the season as the national runner-up in NAIA Division II. In 1987, McCarthy graduated with a B.S. in business administration.

Coaching career

College

In 1987, Duane Dirk, the defensive coordinator at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, hired McCarthy as a defensive graduate assistant (GA). Over the next two years, McCarthy focused on linebackers and defensive ends. During his time as the defensive graduate assistant, McCarthy earned a master of science degree. In 1989 he graduated with a M.S. in Sports Administration.

After serving as a graduate assistant at Fort Hays State from 1987 to 1988, McCarthy returned home to Pittsburgh. On July 30, 1989, McCarthy called Mike Gottfried, the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and asked for a coaching job, but no positions were available. McCarthy was told to mail his resume. The next day, he showed up at Gottfried’s office to introduce himself. A few days later, one of Gottfried’s assistants resigned, and Gottfried offered the unpaid position to McCarthy. McCarthy later worked under coach Paul Hackett.

He served as a graduate assistant for three seasons before coaching wide receivers during the 1992 season. Initially, he also worked the night shift on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as a toll collector during the off-season to supplement his income. McCarthy stated he spent his time in the tollbooth reviewing the University of Pittsburgh playbook.

NFL

Assistant coach

Kansas City Chiefs

In 1993, McCarthy and Paul Hackett left Pittsburgh and were hired by the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs under head coach Marty Schottenheimer. McCarthy worked two years as an offensive quality control assistant. As Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy hired six former quality control coaches to serve as his position coaches. In 1993 and 1994, McCarthy worked closely with Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.

In 1995, McCarthy became quarterbacks coach for the Chiefs, overseeing Rich Gannon, Elvis Grbac, and Steve Bono. McCarthy’s signal callers threw 52 interceptions — the lowest in the American Football Conference (AFC) during that time.

Green Bay Packers

When Schottenheimer resigned from the Chiefs after the 1998 season, McCarthy left Kansas City and became the Packers' quarterbacks coach. There, he worked with Hall of Famer Brett Favre. In the 1999 season, while working with McCarthy, Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw for 4,091 yards, the fourth-best total of his career. While McCarthy was quarterbacks coach, the 1999 Packers team was ranked seventh in passing and ninth in overall offense in the league.

New Orleans Saints

In 2000, McCarthy was hired as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints . That year, the Saints won their first playoff game in the franchise's history and finished 10th overall in offense. During the regular season, the Saints held a 10-6 record. McCarthy was selected as National Football Conference (NFC) Assistant Coach of the Year by USA Today in 2000. In 2002, the Saints led the NFC in scoring, with 49 touchdowns and 432 points. In 2003, the Saints scored 340 points—their eighth highest-scoring season ever. All of McCarthy’s four years with the Saints rank in the team’s top 10 years for offense. While McCarthy was with the team, the Saints’ offense set 25 individual and 10 team records. Joe Horn caught 45 touchdowns and 437 passes for 6,289 yards. During McCarthy’s time with the team, running backs Ricky Williams and Deuce McCallister both had a 1,000-yard season. In his first two years, running back Ricky Williams would run for 2,245 yards with 14 touchdowns. McCarthy stayed with the team for five seasons through 2004.

San Francisco 49ers

In 2005, McCarthy served as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He was hired by coach Mike Nolan. His unit had setbacks, including the trade of their most experienced quarterback Tim Rattay. Rattay was replaced by a rookie quarterback (top draft pick Alex Smith) who was injured in week 7 of the season. The team finished the season ranked 30th in the NFL in points scored and dead last in yards gained. Despite this, rookie running back Frank Gore would emerge to run for 608 rushing yards on 127 carries with a 4.8 Yards Per Carry (YPC). Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd had 733 yards receiving and five touchdowns.

Green Bay Packers

Mike McCarthy (TJG)
Mike McCarthy 2007

2006-2009

After Mike Sherman's first losing season with the Packers, he was released, and the team immediately started interviewing for a replacement. McCarthy was interviewed by Packers general manager Ted Thompson on January 8, 2006, and was offered the head coaching position three days later.

In 2006, the Packers started with a 4–8 record, but after quarterback Brett Favre and backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers sustained injuries, the team still managed to win their last four games finishing the season 8–8, and ending with a win against their arch rival Chicago Bears.

McCarthy guided the Packers to an 8–1 record in the first 9 games of the 2007 season. The Packers went on to win 10 games out of their first 11. The team finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and obtained the number two seed in the NFC. McCarthy recorded the best win-loss ratio to start the first 25 games of a career among active coaches. At that time, setting the record for the best coaching start in Packers' history (Vince Lombardi went 15–10). McCarthy tied Washington's Joe Gibbs at 16–9. McCarthy led the Packers to the NFC Championship game, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl-winning New York Giants in overtime.

After the 2007 season, he finished second in voting for The Associated Press Coach of the Year award, garnering 15 votes to Bill Belichick's 29 votes. He signed a five-year contract extension with the team on January 19, 2008, which raised his salary to $3.4 million a year.

The 2008 season started with a 5–5 record, followed by five consecutive losses. The season ended with a 31–21 victory over the Detroit Lions, bringing the Packers' regular season record to 6-10. The Packers finished 3rd in the NFC North, only ahead of the Lions, and did not make the playoffs. Under McCarthy, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, threw for over 4,000 yards and posted a 93.8 passer rating.

In 2008, Aaron Rodgers, previously the backup, became the starting quarterback when Brett Favre announced his retirement in March. Favre then changed his mind. Deciding not to retire, Favre sought his previous position as the Green Bay quarterback. The organization reiterated its intent to move forward with Aaron Rodgers as the new face of the Packers, although Favre was offered the backup position behind Rodgers. Favre refused the offer, and the organization traded him to the New York Jets in exchange for a conditional fourth-round draft pick.

In 2009, Rodgers improved on 2008's statistics but was sacked 50 times more than any other quarterback in the NFL. The Packers dominated teams with losing records but were swept by their rival Minnesota Vikings, led by former Packers franchise quarterback Brett Favre. The Packers lost to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but then came back to beat the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys. Under McCarthy's leadership, they then began a five-game winning streak, and the Packers qualified for the playoffs with a Week 17 win over the Cardinals, finishing with an 11–5 record. This was the second playoff berth in McCarthy's tenure. The Packers lost the Wild Card round to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime, 51–45.

2010

Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy - San Francisco vs Green Bay 2012
McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2012

In 2010, the Packers had 25 players on the injured reserve list throughout the season. Running back, Ryan Grant sustained an injury in week one that sidelined him for the rest of the season. McCarthy led the Packers to a 10–6 regular season finish, never losing by more than four points and never trailing by more than 7 throughout the entire season. This record was good for 2nd in the NFC North, behind the Chicago Bears, with whom they split victories in the regular season. They finished as the sixth seed in the NFC.

McCarthy took the Packers to the Wild Card round. They went on to defeat the number three-seeded Philadelphia Eagles with a 21-16 score. They then played the number one-seeded Atlanta Falcons. The Packers won with a final score of 48-21.

McCarthy coached the Packers through the NFC Championship game. They played the second-seeded Chicago Bears for the third time that season. They won 21–14 and advanced to Super Bowl XLV. After this game, McCarthy's team had a 3-0 postseason record on the road.

Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLV was the Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Super Bowl XLV was the first time these two storied franchises played each other in the postseason. Ahead of the game, confident in his team’s performance, McCarthy had the team fitted for Super Bowl championship rings. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31–25 to win their fourth Super Bowl and 13th NFL title overall. The win returned the Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay for the first time since the 1996 season. The team was invited to the Obama White House to celebrate which was McCarthy’s first visit.

2011-2017

The 2011 Packers team was a record-setting one, leading the NFL in points scored and setting a franchise record for wins. McCarthy’s offensive strategies facilitated quarterback Aaron Rodger’s NFL MVP season. Rodgers threw for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns, throwing most often to receiver Jordy Nelson.

McCarthy propelled them to the playoffs, where they played the New York Giants in the NFC Divisional Round. The Packers’ weaker defense (ranked 19th in scoring defense) was attacked by Eli Manning, and the Packers lost 37-20. McCarthy’s 2011 Packers had been hampered by a number of setbacks, including the season-ending neck injury of defensive back Nick Collins and the impactful drops and fumbles that marked the loss to the Giants at Lambeau Field.

In 2012, McCarthy’s coaching saw the Packers with an 11-5 record that ranked them first in the NFC North Division. McCarthy’s offensive strategies enabled 433 points, with Aaron Rodgers passing for 4,295 yards. The team winning the second consecutive NFC North in 2012 marked the first time the Packers had won two consecutive NFC titles since the three consecutive titles during the 2002-2004 seasons. The 2012 postseason was the 28th time the franchise had secured a playoff berth.

In 2013 McCarthy led the 2013 Packers to a regular season record of 8-7-1 and the NFC North title (the third consecutive division win). That year, McCarthy took his team to their fifth straight playoff appearance.

In 2014 McCarthy guided the Packers to their fourth consecutive NFC North title with a 12-4 record during the regular season. The team ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense, with an average of 386 yards per game, and first in points scored, with an average of 30.4 points per game. In receiving yards, Jordy Nelson led the team with 1,519 yards. Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,381 yards and Edie Lacy recorded 1,139 rushing yards.

With a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 16 of the 2014 season, McCarthy notched his 99th win passing Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi (98) for second on the Packers' all-time wins list, behind only Hall of Famer Curly Lambeau (212). In 2014, the village board of Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin held a vote to rename Potts Avenue “Mike McCarthy Way.” In November 2014, McCarthy signed a contract extension through 2018.

On January 18, 2015, McCarthy was criticized after making several play-calls during the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks that were "conservative". At the start of the game, he went for two field goals at the 1-yard, and was criticized in an article by Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for "not going for it". During the last five minutes of the game, McCarthy called three run plays to Eddie Lacy with 3:52 minutes left, as the Packers punted a play later. The Packers went on to lose 22-28 in overtime, and McCarthy was criticized after the game by Tony Manfred for "not giving Aaron Rodgers a chance" to win the game. A day after the loss, McCarthy stated that he is "not questioning his play-calling", as well as stating that he "came to run the ball".

In February 2015, McCarthy relinquished play calling duties to long-time assistant Tom Clements. Until December of that year, offensive coordinator Tom Clements had been calling the plays. During the time that Clements called plays, the Packers struggled with a languishing running game. In December, McCarthy once again took over play calling responsibilities. After he did so, the Packers recorded a 28-7 victory over the Cowboys, running the ball for 230 yards.

In March 2015, at the annual owners' meetings, Bill Belichick stated that McCarthy is "one of the best coaches I've ever gone up against."

The 2016 season made Mike McCarthy the fourth head coach in the history of the NFL to take his team to eight-plus consecutive playoff appearances. In the postseason, McCarthy’s Packers won the wild card game against the Giants (38-13) and then the NFC Divisional Playoff against the Cowboys (34-31). The team lost to the Atlanta Falcons at the NFC Championship (44-21).

McCarthy’s 2017 team started the season with a 4-1 record, but McCarthy was later hamstrung by an injury to his quarterback. In week 6 versus Minnesota, Aaron Rodgers sustained a collarbone injury. Afterwards, backup quarterback Brett Hundley made his first career start. With only a backup quarterback to work with, McCarthy failed to clinch a postseason appearance in 2017.

2018

On January 2, 2018, it was announced that McCarthy had signed a one-year contract extension with the Green Bay Packers.

On December 2, 2018, after a 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, McCarthy was released by the Packers after 13 seasons as the head coach. He finished his tenure with the Packers with a .618 regular-season record and a .556 post-season record for a combined record of .613. McCarthy led the team to nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl win.

In a statement, team president and CEO Mark Murphy said: “Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field. We want to thank Mike, his wife, Jessica, and the rest of the McCarthy family for all that they have done for the Packers and the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities.”

The timing of the personnel decision was unexpected by McCarthy, as he noted in an interview with ESPN.com. McCarthy said: “Time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that's where I'm at now. And it's clear to me now that both sides needed a change.”

2019 Hiatus

After McCarthy was released as Packers head coach, he expressed plans to interview with the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns; the Arizona Cardinals were also interested, but he declined to interview with them. McCarthy's interview with the Browns was initially scheduled for Thursday, January 3, before being moved to a week later; he declined the role and the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens instead. McCarthy interviewed with the Jets on January 5, 2019, the Jets had previously parted ways with Head Coach Todd Bowles. The Jets also interviewed Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase. The Jets hired Adam Gase. On January 9, 2019, McCarthy announced that he intended to sit out the 2019 season and return for 2020.

McCarthy spent time improving his football knowledge and strategies. In collaboration with fellow coaches such as Jim Haslett, Frank Cignetti Jr. and Scott McCurley, McCarthy studied league playbooks, league trends, and analytics, with the intention of returning to the NFL. He said that his “McCarthy Project” made him “definitely a better coach.”

Dallas Cowboys

After Head Coach Jason Garrett parted ways with the Dallas Cowboys, McCarthy interviewed for the job. The interview for the vacant head coach position took place over 12 hours. McCarthy interviewed with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones, and chief sales and marketing officer Jerry Jones Jr. On January 7, 2020, McCarthy was announced as the Cowboys' new head coach . McCarthy, who spent his season off watching game film and learning about analytics with fellow coaches, told Jones during the interview that he watched every play of the 2019 season. During his introductory press conference to announce his hiring, McCarthy said: “I need to confess: I told Jerry I watched every play of the 2019 season. I wanted the job. You do what you gotta do right?”

McCarthy is the Cowboys' ninth head coach, since the organization was founded, in 1960. On September 13, 2020, McCarthy lost his debut as the head coach of the Cowboys against the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 20-17. On September 20, 2020, McCarthy received his first win as the Cowboys' head coach in a 40–39 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Cowboys finished the 2020 season with a 6-10 record, placing third in the NFC East. After losing starting quarterback Dak Prescott to a broken ankle early in the season (October 11th), the Cowboys still remained in playoff contention for most of the season. The team struggled defensively (allowing 473 points). McCarthy finished his first year with a .375 record, 3rd in the NFC East. After the season, which was the Cowboys' worst-ever defensive showing, The Cowboys released defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, along with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. McCarthy said: “I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020. These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

McCarthy was fined $50,000 by the NFL on July 1, 2021, for violating practice rules during organized team activities.

Awards

In 2007, McCarthy was voted the Motorola NFL Coach of the Year after twice receiving Coach of the Week awards. He was also named the NFL Alumni's Coach of the Year by a group of former players.

In 2008, McCarthy received the distinguished service award at the Lee Remmel sports awards banquet in Green Bay. McCarthy was selected as National Football Conference (NFC) Assistant Coach of the Year by USA Today in 2000.

Personal life

Mike and Jessica McCarthy were married on March 15th, 2008. Together they have five children; Jessica having two sons from a previous marriage, McCarthy having one daughter from a previous marriage and the couple having two daughters together. McCarthy had previously been married to his high school sweetheart, Christine but had an amicable divorce in 1995.

Together with his wife Jessica, McCarthy has a history of giving back to communities and people in need. The couple were involved with the Seven Loaves Project in Rwanda. They founded the McCarthy Family Foundation, a charitable nonprofit. The McCarthy Family Foundation has donated frequently to the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison Wisconsin. McCarthy hosts an annual golf tournament to benefit the hospital, and his foundation’s fundraising was integral for the building of the hospital’s Surgical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  The Foundation has donated to the MVP Foundation which brings together combat veterans and former professional athletes as they transition to a new life off the field.

The foundation has also donated $100,000 (which the Green Bay Packers matched) to the Green Bay Police Foundation. The funds were used to purchase protective equipment for police officers in the area. The money was also spent on outreach programs intended to build community relations, and on bias prevention training for the officers.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular season Post-season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
GB 2006 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC North
GB 2007 13 3 0 .813 1st in NFC North 1 1 .500 Lost to New York Giants in NFC Championship Game
GB 2008 6 10 0 .375 3rd in NFC North
GB 2009 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Arizona Cardinals in NFC Wild Card Game
GB 2010 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC North 4 0 1.000 Super Bowl XLV champions
GB 2011 15 1 0 .938 1st in NFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to New York Giants in NFC Divisional Game
GB 2012 11 5 0 .688 1st in NFC North 1 1 .500 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Divisional Game
GB 2013 8 7 1 .531 1st in NFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Wild Card Game
GB 2014 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC North 1 1 .500 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Championship Game
GB 2015 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC North 1 1 .500 Lost to Arizona Cardinals in NFC Divisional Game
GB 2016 10 6 0 .625 1st in NFC North 2 1 .667 Lost to Atlanta Falcons in NFC Championship Game
GB 2017 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC North
GB 2018 4 7 1 .375 Fired
GB total 125 77 2 .618 10 8 .556
DAL 2020 6 10 0 .375 3rd in NFC East
DAL total 6 10 0 .375 0 0 .000
Total 131 87 2 .600 10 8 .556

Coaching tree

McCarthy has worked under seven head coaches:

Seven of McCarthy's coaching assistants became head coaches in high school, college, the NFL, UFL, or XFL:

  • Jeff Jagodzinski: Boston College (2007-2008), Omaha Nighthawks (2010)
  • Joe Philbin: Miami Dolphins (2012-2015), Green Bay Packers (2018, interim)
  • Kurt Schottenheimer: Virginia Destroyers (2012)
  • Ben McAdoo: New York Giants (2016-2017)
  • Winston Moss: Los Angeles Wildcats (2020)
  • Curtis Fuller: Myers Park High School (2021-present)
  • Maurice Linguist: Buffalo (2021-present)

Five of McCarthy's coaching assistants have had past head coaching experience:

  • Mike Stock: Eastern Michigan (1978-1982)
  • Ron Zook: Florida (2002-2004), Illinois (2005-2011)
  • Jim Tomsula: Rhein Fire (2006), San Francisco 49ers (2015)
  • Joe Philbin: Miami Dolphins (2012-2015), Green Bay Packers (2018, interim)
  • Dan Quinn: Atlanta Falcons (2015-2020)

Three of McCarthy's coaches/executives became general managers in the NFL or XFL:

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