Twenty-seven years ago, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy got his first coaching job, a graduate assistant’s role at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Six years later, he became an NFL assistant in Kansas City, and his pro coaching career has taken off from there.
In a profile published Saturday by The Associated Press, McCarthy — a Pittsburgh native — noted he grew up “a big fan” of late Steelers coach Chuck Noll, but his admiration of the four-time Super Bowl-winning coach deepened after McCarthy made coaching his life.
“After getting in to the coaching profession, I really appreciated him a lot more, his approach, his style, his humility,” McCarthy told the AP’s Genaro C. Armas. “He seemed like a very consistent, tough champion.”
A healthy respect for Noll’s accomplishments is to be expected from any coach, especially one like McCarthy, who’s led a Super Bowl winner and knows how tough it is to repeat. Noll’s Steelers twice won back-to-back Super Bowls — a truly special feat.
But when McCarthy grew that greater appreciation for Noll, McCarthy did something special, too — he gained greater understanding of someone’s work by working in his profession. It is one thing to be taught; it is another thing to do and to learn.