Packers bought into McCarthy's Super Bowl talk in offseason
Perhaps Brett Favre, 38, has developed selective hearing.
The discussion concerned Green Bay second-year head coach Mike McCarthy's process to get his team to believe it could win a Super Bowl. McCarthy said he's emphasized it since the day he was hired; Favre said he didn't even remember it being discussed last year "in terms of last year."
This year, there's no confusion. Talk commenced "from day one. I remember talking to Mike in the offseason and saying that has to be our focus, no joke," Favre said.
The talk certainly has relevance, as the Packers are one win away from playing in the Super Bowl. Get past the New York Giants on Sunday at Lambeau Field, they can start making plans to travel to Glendale, Ariz.
Favre only remembers McCarthy talking Super Bowl in relation to this season because it wouldn't have been appropriate any sooner.
"You have to be believable before everything else," said Favre, who, as you read on, places a major emphasis on believability.
McCarthy, like virtually every NFL coach says when hired, mentions winning the Super Bowl. How often you mention it, and when, helps determine whether the message gets through.
It was impossible to think Super Bowl when McCarthy arrived, as Green Bay was coming off a 4-12 campaign in 2005. Then the team started 4-8 under McCarthy in 2006.
Winning the last four games to finish 8-8 -- and missing out on the playoffs on the fifth tiebreaker to the Giants -- made players pay more attention to what McCarthy talked about this past offseason and at training camp.
McCarthy had Favre's attention. He could believe what he was hearing now, similar to back when McCarthy was his quarterbacks coach in 1999.
"The thing I noticed right off the bat with him back then was his directness," he said. "Maybe it was not a good concept. Maybe it was not a good play. And I'm just saying this, I don't know. But it was believable coming from him. He had this matter-of-fact attitude that we'll make it work."
Fast forward to when McCarthy replaced Mike Sherman.
"Right away he was trying to sell me on his philosophy, which I don't think he had to," Favre said.
"And I've said this all along when asked about different coaches I've played with. You have to be believable to me before you can be anything else. And coming in and saying we're going to the Super Bowl is one thing. But if you're believable, and that path of how we're going to get there, it makes a big difference."
McCarthy said the first overlay he put in front of his team on a projector "was to win the Super Bowl."
The second toughest challenge, he told them, would be handling success.
"(Winning the Super Bowl) is always the goal. It will always be the goal as long as I'm the coach here," he said.
Like he has a choice.
"It's part of coaching the Green Bay Packers," he said. "The standard has been set. The history is in place. And it's our responsibility to make sure we get that done."
McCarthy knew how the plan had to start.
"You have to create the culture that you feel gives you the best chance to win," he said, "and that's a positive environment. It's an environment that involves communication.
Accountability is at a premium. The importance of availability from your players.
"Those are all key factors that we've stressed here since day one. And I think we're doing a very good job of that. And I think the culture has been created, and we need to continue to manage the culture as we move forward."
Favre won't forget McCarthy first discussing winning the Super Bowl this year.
"From the get-go," he said. "I'm looking around and I'm thinking some of these guys are just happy to be here. I can't say that that's the wrong approach, but you wonder how young guys will handle that sometimes. Our guys have handled it well.
"But each week, he's done a great job focusing on the game, this game. The job at hand, but also keeping in mind that this is important because of where we would like to go."
To the Super Bowl, to win it.
"Last year, I don't think it ever was an issue," Favre said. "I don't think it should have been. This year it was more, OK, we'll build off of our last four games. We almost made the playoffs, but it's not just about making the playoffs, it's about what we do.
"And obviously it's worked out."
Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.