NFL Alumni honor McCarthy

Packers coach basks in glory of successful season with former greats

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – What Mike McCarthy accomplished this year, despite a disappointing loss in the NFC Championship game, is being fittingly recognized this Super Bowl week.

Friday night at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch, McCarthy was honored by the NFL Alumni at their annual Player of the Year Awards dinner. Given the Don Shula Coach of the Year Award, he took home his second piece of hardware for the week, also taking home the Motorola Coach of the Year Award on Wednesday in Phoenix, an award voted on by the fans.

"I think I'm the luckiest coach to be able to work in a place like Green Bay," McCarthy told a formal gathering of over 300 paid guests and dozens of current and past NFL greats.

While McCarthy may have lost out on completing the triple crown of coaching awards with the Patriots' Bill Belichick winning the Associated Press award voted on by the writers, his honor Friday night should be the most meaningful one.

All of the NFL Alumni Player of the Year Award winners are chosen by a unique voting process in which former players cast ballots for their modern counterparts. That means McCarthy was voted in by former coaches including Shula, who was on hand to present him with the award.

Said Shula, the NFL's winningest head coach: "Mike McCarthy took over a team that everybody felt their players were too young and their quarterback was too old. And what did he do? He took that team to the NFC Championship game."

Yeah, about the NFC Championship game. McCarthy has been reminded about it several times as a popular guest in Phoenix on radio and television shows all week. He even indicated Friday night that even 12 days later, all little of the sting is still there from the 23-20 loss to the Giants that unexpectedly ended the Packers' season.

"It's a little odd being here now," he said. "I feel like I don't know what to do when I get up."

Soon enough, McCarthy will be back to work at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. He will be headed to the Pro Bowl Sunday with his staff to coach the NFC squad and then it is back to getting ready for the 2008 season.

At least for one night, though, McCarthy was able to enjoy the fruits of this year's labor. Working the red carpet, taking pictures with guests, laughing at length in a conversation with former Chiefs' quarterback Dave Krieg, and eating next to the great Shula himself, McCarthy was like a Hollywood star.

He stood among the legends. Being honored by such a group has a certain distinction. Unlike writers and fans, the legends have been there, and know what it takes to be the greatest of the great. After Friday night, McCarthy can now claim to be a little part of that select fraternity.

Other NFL Alumni Player of the Year Award winners Friday night:
Quarterback — Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Running Back — Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia Eagles)
Wide Receiver — Randy Moss (New England Patriots)
Tight End — Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
Offensive Lineman — Jeff Saturday (Indianapolis Colts)

Defensive Lineman — Mario Williams (Houston Texans)
Pass Rusher — Jared Allen (Kansas City Chiefs)
Linebacker — Patrick Willis (San Francisco 49ers)
Defensive Back — Antonio Cromartie (San Diego Chargers)

Special Teams Player — Devin Hester (Chicago Bears)

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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