GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have committed $134 million to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but they apparently won’t ask for his two cents on who should replace Mike McCarthy. And that’s evidently OK with Rodgers.
Team president/CEO Mark Murphy, who will have the final say on the hiring, and general manager Brian Gutekunst, whom Murphy said will be “actively involved” in the search, each said Monday that the two-time NFL MVP won’t be part of the selection process.
“No. He won’t,” Murphy said. “Obviously, he’s free to provide input and talk to us, but he’s not going to be a part of the process.”
Murphy didn’t say what form that input could take, adding only, “My door is open. Brian’s is open. We have good relationships with Aaron, tremendous respect for him. He’s not going to be making the decision on who our next coach is, but we’d welcome any input.”
For instance, before hiring coach Mike Budenholzer in May, the Milwaukee Bucks had him have breakfast with the team’s two biggest stars — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. While Budenholzer was likely to get the job, the move allowed the team’s two biggest star players to get some time with the coach ownership was leaning toward hiring. Rodgers, of course, owns a minority stake in the Bucks.
“I think it’s incredibly important that (the next coach) is the right fit for the organization and the team, and Aaron’s obviously a very, very big part of that,” Gutekunst said. “As we move forward, I think the very first thing about it is the person and how they’re wired and the culture that we have here. And Aaron is a very big part of that.
“I don’t know if that’s completely fair to Aaron. He’s the quarterback of our football team. That’s obviously a big job in itself. Like I said before, I have a really good relationship with guys in our locker room, including Aaron. Their input is always taken into account.
“But at the same time, Aaron does an outstanding job of leading our football team as our quarterback and I think that won’t change. As we move forward, whatever we need from Aaron, I know he’s all-in. He’s very committed and driven to get this thing to where it needs to be.”
Asked Monday if he wanted to have some say in who the next coach will be, Rodgers replied, “I’m obviously an older player in the league, I still have a number of years on my contract, would love to still play to 40. I think there’s an interest in who the next guy will be, but Mark and Brian and I have always had good lines of communication. Their offices, like they say, are always open. I’ve had conversations with them like I’ve had with Ted (Thompson) over the years. I’m not needing to be involved in that process.”
Murphy said McCarthy was “very professional” when summoned to Murphy’s office to be given the news of his dismissal.
Murphy said the conversation “was fairly short and that McCarthy is a first-class person. I wasn’t surprised that he handled it as well as he did and made a comment that, ‘It’s the coaching profession. I know what I got into when I became a coach.’”
Rodgers talks McCarthy
Rodgers said he was aware of chatter that his relationship with McCarthy had deteriorated this season but disputed the idea that their disagreements had led to McCarthy’s ouster. He called reports of friction between the two “frustrating,” and said he always enjoyed when the two would talk “about life and lessons and thoughts and dreams” and not football.
“As much as what was made, the conjecture about him and I’s relationship, it was always built on mutual respect and communication,” Rodgers said. “That’s why this is a difficult day for myself and guys in the locker room.”
Asked if he felt their relationship being fractured was the reason McCarthy was fired, Rodgers replied, “I hope that’s not the reason. Him and I, like any relationship, we have our amazing times, we have our times where we butt heads. … We spent a lot of times here talking off the field, in my house, in his house. We spent time together and growing our friendship and we accomplished a lot together. We’ve had some incredible moments.
“We accomplished a lot of things together. I have a lot of great memories to talk about down the line.”
Interim coach Joe Philbin grew emotional when asked what the previous 24 hours had been like and said he had spoken with McCarthy twice. “It’s been tough. I haven’t slept very much,” Philbin said, his voice cracking. “You come back here and you want to be part of the solution. You want to help a guy that’s been a great man, he’s been a great coach, been a friend, and you feel like you let him down. I know how he feels (being fired). I’ve been through it. It’s not fun.” … Philbin said he will call the offensive plays Sunday against Atlanta, even though he did not call them as the Miami Dolphins head coach from 2012 to 2015.