Packers notebook

McCarthy Packers' all-time highest paid coach; Favre still undecided; staff takes over in Hawaii

General manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy are joined at the hip in orchestrating the team's on-field operations for the long haul.

A month after Thompson signed a five-year contract extension, McCarthy brokered a deal similar in length. Both men are under contract through 2012.

"It's a reflection of our football program, something that Ted declared from the first step when I was hired as the head coach, how he was looking for a partnership," McCarthy said. "I think it's great to have five years to continue to reach our goal."

McCarthy's long-expected extension, which makes him the highest-paid coach in the 90-year history of the franchise, was finalized Feb. 4. Rather than cause a distraction while his team was in the midst of its postseason run, McCarthy waited until two days before Super Bowl XLII to sign the contract, while he was in Phoenix to receive a couple coach-of-the-year awards.

The Packers rewarded McCarthy, 44, for an auspicious two-year start to his first tenure as a head coach at any level. His annual salary of nearly $4 million is more than double than what he previously made and puts him in the upper echelon of wage earners among the NFL's coaching fraternity.

The previous top yearly payout to a Green Bay coach was the $3.2 million Mike Sherman pocketed in 2005, his final season with the club when he also was its general manager.

McCarthy said he has no desire "at this point" to take on a dual role.

"I think structure, lines of responsibility, organization charts are very important to any successful operation," McCarthy said. "I think the fit between Ted Thompson and myself and the way we're structured with our personnel department and coaching staff, the way they work hand in hand, I think it's an extremely healthy situation, and it's something I look forward to being a part of for a long time."

McCarthy also won't be moonlighting as an agent, but he did well for himself in negotiating his own contract with the decision-makers in Green Bay's front office, including Thompson.

The Packers had no reason to let McCarthy go into next season in the final year of his original contract. Buoyed by a four-game winning streak to end the 2006 season with an 8-8 record, Green Bay last season went 13-3, won the NFC North and advanced to the NFC Championship Game, in which it lost to the New York Giants in overtime.

McCarthy still hasn't been moved to watch the tape of the stunning season-ending loss - he finally will do so after returning from the Pro Bowl, where he's coaching the NFC team.

Looking back on his admittedly chancy decision to sign his first head-coaching contract for three years, not four, is more palatable.

"I thought (at that time) it was important to establish our football program, establish myself as a head coach, and I was thankful for the opportunity from the Green Bay Packers organization. It's worked out," McCarthy said.

Thompson, who vouched that he has "a very good working relationship" with his handpicked coach, said McCarthy has made his mark in a short amount of time.

"Mike brings tremendous passion, work ethic and structure to his position. These are the traits we saw in him when he was hired, and we're very happy for the success we have had under his guidance," Thompson said.

Favre still deciding on whether to return
McCarthy indicated after the Super Bowl that a decision from quarterback Brett Favre about whether to play next season isn't imminent.

"There's really nothing to update you with. He's going to take a couple of weeks to think about it," McCarthy said from Hawaii, where he's coaching the NFC team in the Pro Bowl, in a conference call with Wisconsin reporters Feb. 5.

McCarthy last spoke with Favre on Jan. 30 while they were in the Phoenix area to accept awards during Super Bowl week. Although Favre backed out of playing in the Pro Bowl, McCarthy said he planned to make contact with the three-time league MVP later this week "just to stay on the schedule of (talking) every seven to 10 days."

The 38-year-old Favre said during his appearance in Arizona that he would take a few more weeks to make a decision.

"As I've stated before, it's more of a personal issue as far as if he's going to come back, as opposed to a professional (issue)," McCarthy said. "I think he's clearly shown that he still has a lot of football left in his tank."

Staff takes wheel for Pro Bowl
McCarthy has relinquished some of his usual coaching duties while overseeing the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl.

He won't be calling the plays for the offense in the game Sunday, instead letting Green Bay assistant Joe Philbin run the show. Philbin is coming off his first season as an offensive coordinator.

"It will be a good experience for him," McCarthy said.

Philbin and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, along with input from Green Bay's other assistants on offense, were entrusted with devising the NFC playbook. Perhaps some five-wide formations - a Packers staple for much of last season - are in the offing.

"I was shocked to see how much they put in. So, I think we're going to have a chance to score some points," McCarthy said.

Besides the coaching staff, Green Bay is well represented in the all-star game with four players: receiver Donald Driver, defensive end Aaron Kampman and the first-time duo of cornerback Al Harris and tackle Chad Clifton.

Upcoming practice schedule
The Packers' practice schedule in the offseason includes a post-draft orientation for rookies May 2-4 and the mandatory minicamp for the entire team June 17-19.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it's only natural to say, 'My goodness, that should have been us.' I think everybody, to a man, around the National Football League probably thinks that. But, I think it's a credit to the New York Giants what they accomplished. They're a perfect example of playing their best football when it counts, and you need to congratulate them on that."
-- Packers head coach Mike McCarthy on the Giants' colossal upset of New England in Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, two weeks after New York stunned the heavily favored Packers in overtime at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship.


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