GREEN BAY – While Mike McCarthy may not agree, he was funny on the radio that day in July.
The Green Bay Packers coach was asked during his conference call with Detroit-area reporters on Wednesday about the back-and-forth between him and Lions coach Jim Schwartz over McCarthy’s decision to use one of his three allotted minicamp practices to take his team clay pigeon shooting as a chemistry-building exercise.
For those who don’t recall, Schwartz took a not-so-thinly veiled swipe at McCarthy after the Lions wrapped up their late June minicamp, saying, “We had no sporting clays today or no amusement parks or water parks. Work day of minicamp. We take a lot of pride in the fact that we play for a blue-collar town and we try to reflect that kind of work ethic, and we have very few opportunities to practice this off-season. ... Every one was crucial and couldn’t afford to waste any."
A few weeks later, McCarthy was asked about the Packers’ budding rivalry with the Lions during an appearance on Green & Gold Today on 540 ESPN.
“Their approach is really tailored to the way they go about their business, starting with their head coach,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know what the problem with skeet shooting is; I thought that was probably one of the best events we’ve ever had here.”
McCarthy went on to explain how the event worked logistically – with police officers at every one of the 19 shooting stations to handle all the weapons – and suggested that the interaction between law enforcement and the players had an added benefit.
“Just the interaction with the policemen and the players was excellent. You were literally handed a gun, pulled the trigger and handed it back to the police officer. That part of it was in place for the safety,” McCarthy said. “But it was really a neat day. We’ve tried some different things, and by far it was our best group dynamic/team building event that we had. I actually got a chuckle out of hearing someone else worried about us taking our team skeet shooting.
“But to answer your question, I don’t really get caught up in that stuff. I don’t really worry about what other people do. I don’t pay much attention to their clips. Like every team, you have media clips put on your desk every day, and I don’t really pay (attention to) mine. I worry about who’s playing for them and how they’re playing and what we need to do to beat them.
“We have a lot of confidence in the way we run our program, and we’re always trying to make it better." Then, after a pause, McCarthy added with a chuckle, "And I think skeet shooting is going to be the difference in us getting back to the Super Bowl. So there.”
Fast forward to this week. While McCarthy did not get any questions about the skeet-shooting disagreement in his Wednesday or Thursday news conferences, the Lions beat writers did ask him about it.
His response? “I think sometimes, you know, and it’s probably not different for any other head coach, sometimes you try to be funny,” McCarthy said. “And it doesn’t always work on the radio.”
(As the host of the show, I have to admit, I thought it worked just fine.)
As for the Lions-Packers rivalry, McCarthy said: “Oh, I think this is a good rivalry. I think, you know, you look at the two teams, they’re built with young, good football players and hopefully we’re playing against each other for a long time. So, I think it’s a natural rivalry with just the history of the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. I mean, there’s a lot that goes into this game. This is a great game for our fans.”
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