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Mike McCarthy: Didn’t see firing coming

Green Bay Packers v Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers looks on in the second half against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 23, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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It wasn’t a surprise that things weren’t going well in Green Bay last year, and a change might be coming.

But Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he was stunned by the way it happened.

Asked by Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com if he had any indication that team president Mark Murphy was going to fire him, McCarthy said he didn’t.

Frankly, no I did not,” McCarthy said. “As a head coach, I’ve always tried to stay immune to and stand in front of all the outside noise. That was always my focus with my players. It was always to protect them as much as possible from the drama. I think that’s important. And I stayed true to that to the last day. If we missed the playoffs, I expected change might happen.

“But the timing surprised me. Actually it stunned me. But time provides the opportunity for reflection and clarity and that’s where I’m at now. And it’s clear to me now that both sides needed a change.”

McCarthy said that in the wake of his firing, his wife told him she was relieved, because of the toll the job had taken on him in recent years. She pointed out that it was clear he wasn’t happy, and that the job “beat the hell out of you the last couple of years.”

Still, he thought he deserved a better ending.

“Obviously. It couldn’t have been handled any worse,” McCarthy said. “Anytime you lose a close game, it’s a difficult time emotionally afterwards, but when you lose a home game at Lambeau Field in December, it’s really hard. And that hasn’t happened very often. I walked out of my press conference, and I’m thinking about the game, thinking about how our playoff shot was now minimal. That’s where my head was at. And when I was told Mark Murphy wanted to see me — and the messenger was cold and the energy was bad. Mark said it was an ugly loss, and it was time to make change. He said something about the offense and the special teams, and he didn’t think it was going to get any better. There was no emotion to it. That was hard.

“Every time I released an individual, you get your words right. There’s a personal component to it. You know he has a family. He’s family. There wasn’t any of that. So that was off. The way people leave that building was very important to me. That’s a part of the business. Hopefully moving forward for guys like Clay [Matthews] and Randall [Cobb] and Nick Perry and Jordy Nelson and T.J. Lang, it’s important for them to leave the right way. That way represents the Green Bay Packers standard that I tried to uphold every day.

“That exit, frankly, Rob, the exit really stuck with me for a while. It was hard to swallow. The emotional challenge of shifting from humiliation to reflection was a very important step in seeking clarity so I could personally grow from the experience of my entire Green Bay Packer career; that’s what I wanted to get to, not just the ending of it.”

McCarthy sounds like he’s in a better place now, but clearly needed some time to work through his 13-year run which ended a few weeks short.