Santa vs. Scrooge

Under coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers took a different approach to Christmas, which was appreciated by the players.

It's Santa Claus vs. Scrooge.

OK, maybe not, but Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was a holly, jolly elf in comparison to Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman.

It's interesting to compare the coaches as they began preparing for this week's do-or-die NFC North title game at Soldier Field.

Playing the role of Santa Claus was McCarthy. Everyone — coaches and players, medical and training staff — had Christmas off.

Playing the role of Scrooge was Trestman. The Bears had a walk-through practice and meetings scheduled for Wednesday. It's not a typical Wednesday workload and it's not like Trestman forbid his players from opening presents and enjoying a few cookies with family. Still, it was something compared to the Packers' nothing.

"Coach has always been a family-first guy," guard T.J. Lang said on Tuesday. "We definitely appreciate it, getting to spend the holiday with family that you don't get to see a whole lot during the season. Very thankful for that."

Fullback John Kuhn said the team "hit it hard" on Monday and Tuesday, so it's not as if it will be trying to shoehorn three days of work into Thursday and Friday. The team didn't practice, per se, on Tuesday. According to a member of the media-relations staff, the team practiced in "groups" in its new indoor facility.

"Around here, family means a lot," Kuhn said. "Getting to spend time with family is a big boost in itself. We're going to have a day off and we're going to spend some time with our families but, come Thursday, we're going to come back and be ready to work."

Will family win out over routine preparation when these old rivals square off on Sunday? Perhaps it won't make any difference, but McCarthy's approach perhaps speaks to the Packers' resiliency this season. Through thick and thin, his players generally have shown up this season and over the course of his tenure.

"Mike's always been like this," center Evan Dietrich-Smith said. "He's big into family, he believes in it. He believes that family definitely takes priority over anything. He believes that we need to be with our families at Christmas. Guys that don't really have family up here, he's always inviting them over to his house for Thanksgiving or that kind of stuff. It's a family-first operation around here. He's big into making sure the players are with the right people on holidays."

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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

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