Confidence, Ring Fit McCarthy Like a Champ

The coach's overwhelming confidence in his team was made clear when the players were fit for rings before the game. The ploy worked exactly how he intended it. "It's a great feeling when you know you've won before you even played the game," Brandon Jackson said.

DALLAS – On Friday, Mike McCarthy matter-of-factly said Sunday would be his team's night.

So, it was only natural that the Green Bay Packers coach had his players sized for Super Bowl rings on Saturday night.

"Scheduling is so important during the course of the week, and you want to do certain things at certain times, and I felt that was the appropriate time," McCarthy said on Monday morning, less than 12 hours after his Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-26 in Super Bowl XLV. "I thought it would be special. I thought it would give us a boost of confidence to do it the night before the game."

Who knows, maybe in his spare time, McCarthy was choosing between McCarthy Lane or McCarthy Boulevard.

"It's a great feeling when you know you've won before you even played the game," an overjoyed Brandon Jackson said after the game. "You dream this over and over again, night after night, day after day. It's just amazing how this team came out and played and we fought to the end. All the adversity we've been through all year, it paid off."

All season, McCarthy voiced supreme confidence in his team – "real confidence" to use his phrase. Rather than hide from the Super Bowl talk during training camp, he embraced it. At 3-3 and coming off back-to-back overtime losses, there was no sense of panic or fear. After a loss at New England, he firmly said that his team was "nobody's underdog."

His team clearly took his cue. They needed to win back-to-back games against playoff-caliber teams to end the season. They did it. His team needed to win back-to-back-to-back road games against the No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. They did it. So, apparently, the next logical sense after two long weeks of preparation was to get the rings out of the way.

"It was a reality check that, OK, if we win this game, we win those rings," Tramon Williams said. "That's what we did. Mike seemed to be loose, seemed to be confident that we were going to win this game all year long and we felt the same way."

McCarthy fulfilled his destiny by beating the powerhouse Steelers, who were seeking their third Super Bowl championship in six years. He did it with a team with a below-average running game, below-average play from its tight ends, below-average special teams and an all-star team on injured reserve.

What he had was a great quarterback – a truly great quarterback – in Aaron Rodgers, who seemingly has no fear of any situation. He did it with Greg Jennings' game-breaking ability and a group of receivers with short memories. And he did it with his bandage-toting defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, leading a unit that closed out four of the last six games with last-minute stands.

This moment was the culmination of McCarthy's five-year journey. He knocked on the door in 2007, only to have it coldly slammed in his face by the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. It was the exit interviews in the days after last season's loss to Arizona, however, that were the beginning of this journey.

"Our players were disappointed but they knew they had a good team and there was an opportunity where they didn't take advantage of it," McCarthy said after the game and reiterated on Monday to a handful of reporters. "We felt like we fell short, but we had everybody coming back. Guys were talking about, ‘Hey, when does the offseason program start?' This journey started the Monday after our playoff loss last year and we never blinked. We wrote a different path than we expected but that's life. You have to deal with the changes thrown at you. We always thought we'd be here, and we're here and we finished this. It's a great feeling."

For two weeks, observers wondered how the inexperienced Packers would fare in a championship clash against a dynasty-in-the-making. Would the Packers wilt under the spotlight? Would they be too fired up?

So, the message on Saturday night was simple. Let's get fitted for the rings so we don't have to bother with it next week.

"We are a confident team," Charles Woodson said. "We knew we had a good team. We knew if we went out and played the way (that) we are capable of playing, we don't feel like anybody can beat us. That was just a vote of confidence for us: get fitted for your ring. I don't know when we'll get them, but it'll fit."

Added center Scott Wells, with his son sitting beside him: "It hit me because that's when you really start thinking about the ring. Today, coming in and looking at the program and seeing all the rings throughout all the Super Bowls, looking at the Saints' ring from last year, that's when it really hit me and realized how bad I really wanted one."

"I guess that shows confidence," running back John Kuhn said "We were always confident that we could do anything that we set our minds to. Starting in the preseason, we were ready for this run. We told ourselves, don't listen to anybody on the outside, don't listen to them when they say we're good, don't listen when they say we're bad. Just stay the course and take one game at a time.' I'm very proud of these guys. We worked very hard for this and it feels good to finish it off right."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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