Mike McCarthy made a bold decision on the eve of Super Bowl XLV.
The coach took his Green Bay players ring shopping.
It's an enduring memory for former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, one that hasn't faded over the past nine years.
"It's something that I use now when I give speeches to groups and corporations," said Hawk, who retired three years ago Tuesday. "The night before the Super Bowl, after he had gotten done speaking to us, we opened the doors, go out there, and there's 20 people from Jostens there. We all got fitted for Super Bowl rings right there."
McCarthy, who Monday was named the new coach of the Dallas Cowboys, clearly believes in the power of visualization.
It's unclear if McCarthy was alone in that presumptuous exercise. The Seattle Seahawks didn't do that before their Super Bowls. And New England?
"No," former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria wrote in a text. "Hell no, to be exact."
Maybe that audacity is something that sets McCarthy apart as he heads to Dallas, where his Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in that only Super Bowl played in North Texas.
Cultivating a belief within the team - and beyond that, the Cowboys fan base - will be paramount for a franchise that has fallen so short so often.
Jason Garrett was certainly capable of that, but after 20 years in the organization - either as a player, assistant coach, or head coach - his stay had run its course.
Garrett was a onetime backup to Troy Aikman, and that Hall of Fame quarterback was sharply critical of the way the Cowboys handled the split, waiting a full week before announcing Garrett had been fired.
"Breakups are always hard - we all understand that - at whatever level they occur, but I don't know that after all that he gave and committed to this organization that he received the same in return," Aikman, a Fox color analyst, told FOX 4 in Dallas.
"When the organization was unwilling, for whatever reasons, and I don't know the back stories to it all, but when the organization was unwilling to come out publicly and say, 'We are seeking a new coach,' and yet at the same time reports are coming out that they're interviewing potential candidates for the head coaching position - that's disappointing.
"I think in a lot of ways it shines a light on some of the dysfunction, if you will, within the organization and kind of how they got to the point that they're in now."
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Without question it's a challenging situation for McCarthy, going from a franchise with no owner, per se, to a club led by Jerry Jones, one of the most high-profile owners in sports. Matching what McCarthy did in Green Bay, reaching the playoffs in nine of 13 seasons, is no simple task.
According to multiple reports, McCarthy plans to bring on New Orleans linebacker coach Mike Nolan as his defensive coordinator. McCarthy was offensive coordinator in San Francisco when Nolan was head coach of the 49ers.
"I think he and Jerry Jones will get along great," Hawk said of McCarthy. "I think Mike is dying to get back out there, and I think this is a great job for him."
McCarthy certainly has the resume and the confidence. Time will tell if it's truly a fit.
GET READY FOR TUA
There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks about where several high-profile quarterbacks will be playing next season, with the contracts of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers due to expire in March.
Tua Tagovailoa announced Monday he will forgo his senior season at Alabama to declare himself eligible for the draft. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2018, and would have been in the running this year but for a season-ending hip injury in mid-November. Agent Leigh Steinberg confirmed Monday that both Tagovailoa and Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy have retained his services.
It's a crowded field of quarterback prospects that also includes Louisiana State's Joe Burrow, the overwhelming favorite to go No. 1 to Cincinnati, Georgia's Jake Fromm and Oregon's Justin Herbert.
With plenty of evaluating to go, and lots of time for movement up and down the draft board, one NFL team personnel executive projects Tagovailoa going around the middle of the first round.
"Durability seems to be a real issue with him," the evaluator said. "Great intangibles and poise for a quarterback. You like the athleticism, mobility and deep ball."
Quite a TV weekend for the NFL with the four wild-card games averaging 30.5 million viewers, a 7% increase over last season. It was the first time two of the opening-round games were decided in overtime.
Seattle's victory over Philadelphia, the weekend finale, averaged 35.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV show since last year's Super Bowl.
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