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Home for the holidays

Dec 21, 2011 -- 11:21pm

GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy talks about the importance of family often, and the Green Bay Packers coach is putting his schedule where his mouth is this weekend with his team playing on Christmas Day.

Breaking from normal protocol that has the players at a hotel on Saturday night before a Sunday game, McCarthy will allow his players to spend the night at their respective homes Saturday night for Christmas Eve, then wake up on Christmas morning to spend more time with their families before reporting for midday meetings before the team’s 7:20 p.m. kickoff against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

“We normally go to the hotel and there’s pretty much 45 minutes to an hour of work that is done at the hotel. Our philosophy is to make sure we have everything done before we leave here on Saturday,” McCarthy explained. “So we basically have taken Saturday night, and with it being a Sunday evening game, we’re going to have those meetings Sunday afternoon.

“The players will be home on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their families, which we feel very strong that it’s the right thing to do but with that we’re actually picking up a little extra time of preparation. Sunday night games and Monday night games, there’s a lot of down time, a lot of waiting around for the players and coaches. Just the way this schedule fell with Christmas Eve on Saturday, Christmas on Sunday and with it being a night game at home, I think this schedule really falls favorably both personally and professionally for what we need to do to win this game.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on ESPNMilwaukee and ESPNMadison that the Packers are the lucky ones to be playing at home, while the Bears must travel to Green Bay for the holiday.

“I didn’t realize until a couple days ago that we’re the only game on Christmas (Day). Everybody else is playing either Christmas Eve, or the Monday night game,” Rodgers said. “You know it’s fun to be the only game on and the schedule that Mike’s given us this week is great as well, but you know it’d be tough to travel on Christmas. We’re fortunate enough to be home for Christmas.”

Bears new starting quarterback Josh McCown, who joined the team last month and whose family has now joined him in the greater Chicago area, said he isn’t sure what his family will do.

“That’s a good question. I’m open to any ideas,” McCown said. “They are up here now, so we are I think going to possibly hoping that Santa Claus maybe comes early because of some unforeseen event that he needed to do that at our house. It’s an interesting dynamic this year because of the game and obviously something that we weren’t really sitting there planning for six weeks ago. We’ll do our best. For us, the main thing is just having fun and being together and we’ll get that time Friday and Saturday and then go play the game. I think they’re excited. I think it’s kind of a fair trade off to get watch dad play.”

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