This was during the Mike Holmgren era, and Holmgren had a problem with two stories I wrote for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. One was a column dealing, somewhat on the humorous side, of the Packers signing Jim McMahon. A hated former Bear now a Packer? I called out the Packers for signing this washed-up QB and Holmgren wasn't pleased. The other incident was a game story during the 1997 season, when I wrote the Packers' win at New England was the most significant road during Holmgren's tenure. Not sure what was wrong with that, but Holmgren said at the time it's hard winning on the road, and "we've won Chicago and Detroit." He was upset for no reason, and looking back at it now I laugh about how much a coach worried about what was written in the local "fishwrap."
The reason I bring this up this week is I learned through a radio show new Packers coach Mike McCarthy was a bit peeved at a story Jason Wilde had in the Wisconsin State Journal, saying cornerback Al Harris wasn't too giddy about his contract status.
I know Jason, he does a good job. He doesn't have to answer to anybody, but McCarthy called aside Wilde after a recent minicamp practice and unloaded on him for the story. McCarthy was mad at the story, which made no sense. Wilde reported news, anything wrong with that? But this gets worse. McCarthy apparently unloaded some expletives toward Wilde, at least that's what he said on ESPN Radio 1510 in Milwaukee.
Furthermore, he did it in front of other media, making an example out of Wilde. Classless.
If McCarthy had a problem with the story, why not speak to the reporter in question in a professional manner and give him or her the respect that is deserved? Why come out and fire four-letter words? All this does is make the media see McCarthy in a darker light, which could come back to haunt him if the Packers struggle this season.
Also, McCarthy is entering his first regular season as an NFL head coach. He should be more worried about his roster and his seasonal plan rather than a newspaper story. Being new to his role, it wouldn't hurt to start a good relationship with the media.
This type of approach with the media, scouring daily stories and pointing out certain stories, has been going on for quite some time. I don't have a problem with people showing a coach something in a story, but to call this person out and criticize his work is ludicrous.
After Holmgren had his one-sided talk with me, we joked around in the newspaper office that we had to send every Packers story I wrote to Holmgren before it could be published. He was our editor and heaven forbid we anger this god-like figure.
The way I see things is this way: the media covers the Packers to update fans on the team. If the media only covers the team the way coaches want it covered, then the fans are getting cheated. No question, coaches are control freaks, and unless McCarthy becomes a real sports editor of a newspaper, he should pay attention to something he knows about, and that's football. He has no business trying to force a media member how to cover the team. It would be like us trying to tell him how to coach.
It still baffles me these coaches take this approach. You would think being in their position the last thing they would worry about is what our 10 fingers put in the paper or on the Internet. What about beating the Bears or a "Cover-2" defense?
Maybe we should take it as a compliment. We know they read and we know it affects them. The problem is coaches take it too far at times and show their true colors. For now, McCarthy's true colors don't seem to be green and gold.
Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.