Green Bay, Wis. The Green Bay Packers are coming off their worst season in 15 years. They don't know if their franchise quarterback is returning. Now they've hired the youngest head coach in the league.
Rebuilding year, anyone?
New coach Mike McCarthy says no.
McCarthy compared his previous jobs, as an offensive coordinator in San Francisco and New Orleans, to building a house from the ground up.
This, he says, is like walking into his dream house.
"Now, we may knock down a few walls and give all the rooms a fresh coat of paint," McCarthy said. "But this definitely is not a rebuilding process."
Packers general manager Ted Thompson gave McCarthy a three-year deal to replace Mike Sherman, who was fired Jan. 2 after a 4-12 season.
Thompson touted the 42-year-old McCarthy as someone who could return the franchise to a championship level.
"What stood out to me in the interview process was Mike's leadership ability and the comfort level that he and I had on a personal level," Thompson said. "Mike is someone who is a tough, no-nonsense person. That appealed to me very much. And he is all about football."
McCarthy, who is three months younger than Jon Gruden, expects to win a championship.
"There will be an unconditional commitment from Ted and myself to bring a World Championship back to Green Bay," McCarthy said. "I think that's very important to state that right up front."
McCarthy has ties to the Packers - and, perhaps more important, Brett Favre.
He was the team's quarterbacks coach in 1999, a forgettable 8-8 season under Ray Rhodes, who was fired after his only season as head coach.
Favre struggled that year, throwing 23 interceptions to 22 touchdowns. But he played much of the season with a sprained, swollen thumb on his throwing hand.
Now, McCarthy must try to convince Favre to come back next season. He said he tried to call Favre on Thursday but they "missed each other."
Thompson said McCarthy's previous relationship with Favre wasn't the deciding factor in hiring him, but it certainly didn't hurt.
Thompson said he spoke to Favre on Wednesday morning but didn't set any sort of deadline for the quarterback to give him an answer on retirement.
"He's working through that," Thompson said. "I haven't said, 'Do this,' or whatever."
Favre has not committed to playing next season and has hinted that the team's offseason moves would play a role in his decision.
Favre threw a career-worst 29 interceptaions this past season, and admitted several times that he was trying too hard to make up for the missing players the Packers lost to injury.
McCarthy said he considers Favre one of the most coachable quarterbacks in the league.
"I think the fire and the passion he plays with gets mistaken for, he might be out of control," he said.
After a year in Green Bay, McCarthy was the New Orleans Saints' offensive coordinator from 2000-04 before going to San Francisco. The 49ers finished 4-12, ranking last in the league in yards per game (224.2) and 30th in scoring (14.9 points per game).
McCarthy cited the 49ers' youth as a reason for their struggles.
"Just like every other team, we had our trials and tribulations, many obstacles that we had to overcome," McCarthy said.
Statistics didn't matter to Thompson, who praised his new coach as a "macho" tough guy from Pittsburgh.
But during his interview with McCarthy, Thompson tried to ask deep questions that went well beyond Xs and Os.
"It wasn't like chick movie stuff," Thompson said. "But it was on some levels and topics that are not normally discussed."
Thompson and McCarthy both said they came away from their weekend meeting feeling comfortable with each other, both personally and professionally.
Thompson also interviewed Cleveland offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, New York Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, Dallas offensive coordinator Sean Payton, San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and the Packers' current defensive coordinator, Jim Bates.
It was not clear whether Bates will remain in his job under McCarthy.
Thompson said McCarthy will have the authority to hire and fire his assistants. McCarthy said he would try to meet with Bates Friday.
"I have a great respect for Jim Bates," McCarthy said.
Thompson - who said he is far more comfortable evaluating players than he was firing Sherman or having to make decide who would be the team's next coach - seemed relieved that the interview process was over.
"For me personally, the last 10 days have been a very difficult time for me," Thompson said.