GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Don't expect to hear much in the near future from Mike McCarthy after he was fired by the Green Bay Packers with four games left in his 13th season as head coach.
He told ESPN.com that he planned to "lay low and try to finish this professional chapter on the high road," and a source close to McCarthy said he was pondering whether to pursue a head-coaching job this offseason or take the year off and remain in Green Bay, where his family has deep roots.
But before he got out of town for a weekend breather, he was afforded the opportunity to return to Lambeau Field not once, but twice since he was let go on Sunday.
Team president Mark Murphy, with the blessing of general manager Brian Gutekunst, vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball and interim coach Joe Philbin, let McCarthy come back Tuesday to speak with his coaching staff and again Wednesday to address the players -- something he didn't get to do on Sunday after the decision was made.
"We all saw him as a staff, which was great," Philbin said Thursday. "Then we talked, and he wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of [it], and he did a fantastic job talking to the team. Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident. I'm sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job."
Players gave McCarthy a standing ovation in the meeting on Wednesday. Linebacker Clay Matthews called it "warranted and deserved."
"I was happy to see him," Matthews said. "Obviously, first things first, you understand that this is a business and not many people get that opportunity. And the player, as well. We're in the same boat. For him to invest the past 13 years in this team, has given his heart and soul to us, to have that kind of closure, it was great of the organization -- Joe, Gutey, Mark and everybody that allowed him to come in and say his piece. I know we really enjoyed it. I'm sure he did from a closure standpoint. Obviously, we gave him the respect he deserved and sent him off with some final words."
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark said McCarthy "just let us know and tell us how much he cared about us and the job and just the Packers and Green Bay in general. It was really cool just to get to see him and talk to him one last time before he left."
Philbin said he has talked multiple times with McCarthy since the change was made Sunday night.
"That's the Green Bay Packer way, right?" Philbin said. "This is a first-class organization all the way around. I think it's been that way for 100 seasons, I would guess. I'm not that old, but I'm guessing it's been like that for a long time. We do things the right way around here. Mark and Russ and Brian were all totally supportive, they think that was the right thing to do, as did I. Hopefully it will help."
McCarthy's address to the team came on Wednesday morning. McCarthy's wife, Jessica, is a Green Bay area native and together they have five children, four of whom are school-age. The Pittsburgh native has said over the years that he will always consider Green Bay to be his home now.
"He spoke to the team yesterday and that was good," Murphy said on WTMJ radio. "I think Mike wanted some closure with the players and some of the other coaches to be able to thank them and say goodbye to them as well."