"If there ever was someone I would like to emulate, it definitely would be Chuck Noll," said McCarthy last week in response to the passing of the late, great Pittsburgh Steelers head coach on June 13 at the age of 82. "Obviously, (I was) a big fan as a kid. And after getting in the coaching profession, I really appreciated him a lot more."
Noll was the sideline leader of the great Steelers teams of the 1970s that won four Super Bowls, the last two coming during McCarthy's teenage years growing up in Pittsburgh. All told, Noll spent 23 years as head coach of the Steelers, a tenure unthinkable in the current culture of the NFL.
In fact, only three coaches entering the 2014 season have more than 10 years of head coaching service with the same team – Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots (14 years), Marvin Lewis with the Cincinnati Bengals (11 years), and Tom Coughlin with the New York Giants (10 years). Next in line is McCarthy, with eight years under his belt as the head man for the Green Bay Packers.
"One thing I like about this locker room, the coaches, the staff, is that whether we're doing good or whether we're doing bad, the guys just keep it the same all the time," said Tramon Williams recently on McCarthy's success and longevity. "You don't have to worry about, say, we lose three, four games in a row, and we will come in here and start nitpicking at some things and knowing that these guys do an excellent job of staying even-keeled, continue coaching us up, and the players love the coaching staff in here. So, anytime you've got players that like the coaches, they're going to go all out for them. And, obviously, we've been in the playoffs and in contention all these years, so it's been the way they've been running things around here."
Last season, McCarthy passed Mike Holmgren for wins by a Packers coach, putting him behind only two legendary figures – Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi – on the Packers' all-time list of 14 head coaches. With 11 wins in 2014, McCarthy will pass Lombardi, elevating him to a level not many could have envisioned when the Packers hired him as a first-time head coach back in 2006.
"Mike's always been a leader," said Williams, who has spent all seven years of his NFL career with McCarthy. "I think they do an excellent job of keeping the right guys in the locker room, first of all, so from that standpoint, they don't really have to watch over our backs because they know they can trust the guys in this locker room. And we can trust what they're doing up there. At the end of the day, if you have that type of trust in your coaches and the coach has that type of trust in you, it's going to be good. Like I say, you're going to go all out for them. That's what we'll do for him anytime, anywhere."
This is about to be McCarthy's ninth season as head coach, which will equal the tenures of Bart Starr (1975-83) and Lombardi (1959-67). Lambeau, Green Bay's first coach, is the franchise's runaway leader with 31 seasons as head coach and 212 wins. Including playoffs, Lombardi was 98-30-4 with the Packers while McCarthy is 88-50-1. Holmgren went 84-42.
Both Lambeau and Lombardi won titles in their ninth seasons in Green Bay. Championships will ultimately determine McCarthy's place in Packers history. Having one already, he is at Packers Hall of Fame and street sign status. But since winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers are just 1-3 in the postseason. Neither Lambeau or Lombardi, nor Holmgren, for that matter, ever had a stretch that poor.
McCarthy's contract runs through the 2015 season. There is reason to believe -- despite general manager Ted Thompson's future (his contract runs through the 2016 NFL Draft) -- that McCarthy could be in Green Bay longer. He has laid down roots in Green Bay, and with Aaron Rodgers signed through the 2019 season, he might get closer to the longevity enjoyed by Noll than many thought possible.
"His approach, his style, his humility," McCarthy continued regarding Noll. "He just seemed like a very consistent, tough-driven champion."
Sounds a little like the current coach in Green Bay.