Do you remember where you were on February 8, 2011?
I was sitting in the stands at Lambeau Field with my wife, taking in the Return to Titletown celebration with 50,000 other fans. We waited in the cold, just for a chance to see the Lombardi Trophy walked onto the field and up on stage, the culmination of a tremendous season and a thank you to the fans by the Packers organization.
One of the lasting moments I took away from that day was when Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt stood in front of the masses at Lambeau, holding up a street sign which said “McCarthy’s Way” and promised to honor the coach with a street permanently renamed in honor of the Super Bowl win he had delivered.
Flash forward to the present, four months later. No street has been renamed for McCarthy. In fact, the issue has been passed from one committee to another in the Green Bay government. Issues such as whether it is too costly to an inconvenience to local residents to not knowing what street to honor the coach with have been brought up as potential issues in this matter.
My question is why?
Every other coach who has brought a title to Green Bay has been honored in some way. Lambeau Field. Lombardi Avenue. Holmgren Way. Why would Mike McCarthy be any different than the men listed above? He won a championship, and should be honored regardless of any political bureaucracy which could get in the way.
In fairness, I am not a resident of the Green Bay area. I am not aware of the political make up of the area, other than knowing it is apparently an election year for mayor of Green Bay. As a fan, I would immediately cast my vote for yes if I was asked should a street be renamed in honor of McCarthy. As a resident, I would do the same. The “hassle” of changing one’s address is grossly exaggerated. The issue of being undecided on what street to rename, along with the so called hassle of an address change may be a possible cover for something which lies at the heart of why some do not want it to be done.
When Brett Favre Pass was named, it was to honor the quarterback who had brought a title back to Green Bay and helped re-establish the Packers as a power in the NFL. Was it wise to honor Favre with a street name, with his career being young at the time? Without reliving recent history, I would say yes. At the time, with the excitement of being champions, and Favre being the face of the franchise, it was the right thing to do. No one had any idea about the future, or where his career would head in the latter stages. Yet I have to believe that this is something which weighs on the minds of some of the decision makers in Green Bay.
Favre is not the only player or coach who has had a street named after him and ended up leaving the Packers. Vince Lombardi went to Washington after ending his coaching career in Green Bay with a one year stint as General Manager. Mike Holmgren left two years after winning the Super Bowl under less than celebratory fan fare. Reggie White retired, only to return to the Carolina Panthers a year later. Even Curly Lambeau, the man who founded the Packers and whom the Packers stadium is named after, resigned from the Packers only to reemerge with the Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins. Is anyone upset with anyone listed here and streets or stadiums being named after them? Should any of the streets be renamed? How about a new name for Lambeau Field?
When McCarthy was hired in 2006, one of the things he said was that he was committed to bringing a championship back to Green Bay. He has delivered on this promise, and if precedent is to be used, he deserves to have a street name in his honor. The Green Bay government needs to get this figured out. Find a street which is appropriate to honor a coach who delivered what he promised and get it done. Do not worry about the fact McCarthy is still coaching. Do not worry about the fact that he has won “only one” Super Bowl. Most importantly, do not allow the actions of others deviate from what is the right thing to do.
Not everyone’s career takes the path Brett Favre’s did. Honor the coach, and don’t be afraid of the “what if’s” that are out of your control. You owe it to him.
Filed Under: John Rehor