Thompson, McCarthy Strike Proper Balance

Judging by some light-hearted comments away from the glare of the NFL Network lights on Friday, the Packers' braintrust seems to be walking with a little extra spring in their step. Still, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are anything but complacent.

INDIANAPOLIS – The weight of the world – well, the football world – appears to have been hoisted off the shoulders of the entire Green Bay Packers franchise.

A Super Bowl championship, serving as confirmation for decisions difficult and easy, controversial and unnoticed, will do that for a team.

Take coach Mike McCarthy, who on Friday was asked about battling a Super Bowl hangover.

"Super Bowl hangover? I thought that would mean because of all the extra alcohol," McCarthy joked to a dozen or so reporters hanging out in the atrium of Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday afternoon. "It's a lack of sleep is what it is."

Even general manager Ted Thompson broke out of his shell on Friday.

"Everybody's been very gracious, they've said congratulations," Thompson told a small group of reporters earlier in the day. "I used to do the very same thing. I didn't mean it. I was just being nice, they're being nice, and that's the way we do it."

This week, however, serves as the turning of the page. The 2010 season will live forever as one of the greatest achievements in the glorious history of the Packers. The 2011 season, however, is under way.

"Every time I ride down I-65 and pull into Indianapolis, it's time to move onto the next year," McCarthy said. "I'm not trying to wipe this thing away, and I know players are enjoying it throughout the country, and they should. Really, the staff is moving on. That's what Indianapolis does for you. They've made it such a big event but there's a lot of work that gets done when you come down here for this week. Tonight, we go through interviews from 6 to 11. This has always been a big night for us There's a lot of information you can gather from these players coming down to Indianapolis, and that's what we're doing. We've made a living on this draft and we need to have another good draft class. That's our focus."


A smiling Mike McCarthy strolls through Lucas Oil Stadium.
Darron Cummings/AP Images
McCarthy's focus is a good sign because there's a lot of work to do. Holes must be anticipated and filled. New wrinkles must be added. The revamped coaching staff must become a cohesive group. Plan B, not to mention Plan C and Plan D, must be created in an offseason filled with unknowns because of the labor unrest. The scouting process must be completed in an accelerated manner because the coaches were busy coaching in late January rather than studying the college stars.

Fortunately, Thompson and McCarthy are under no illusions of grandeur. Yes, the Packers absolutely are poised to become the league's dominant force over the next several years. By the same token, the same could have been said about the Packers after winning Super Bowl XXXI. The Packers wound up losing Super Bowl XXXII, leaving Thompson's mentor, Ron Wolf, to call his powerhouse team merely a "fart in the wind" as a one-time champion. Heck, had the Detroit Lions not shocked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late in the season, these Packers might not have made the postseason, much less win the Super Bowl.

"We have to remember this is a very hard business," Thompson said, repeating his often-used mantra. "This is a tough business, here today gone tomorrow. There were things, a lot of very small things, that could happen at any point during the season and we wouldn't gotten to where we got to. We have no illusions about that. So we're just trying to get better."

And that's the purpose of the Scouting Combine. The Packers rely on the draft more than any team in the league, so the pressure's on Thompson to put together another impact draft. Still, it's nice to hear the tight-lipped general manager let his guard down for a moment after the crowning achievement of his career.

"You still pinch yourself from time to time," he said. "It's still cool, and sometimes even in our draft meetings, we'll say, ‘What do we think about that guy?' And there gets to be a tense moment and then (West Coast scout) Sam Seale would say, ‘Well, we are the world's champions.' We only do that amongst ourselves, we don't do that out in public. It's cool, we understand what that means to Green Bay and Packers fans all over the world to win another world championship. We have an appreciation for that. We also understand this league is about what's next, we're trying to get ready for the next play."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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