This week, Mike McCarthy was officially named the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Over the course of his 13 seasons at the helm in Green Bay, McCarthy amassed an impressive 125-77-2 regular season record (135-85-2 including playoffs), tallied nine winning seasons, coached the Packers to one Super Bowl win, and starred in some particularly terrible commercials. There were good times, but it had to end and, now, it seems like both the Packers and McCarthy found themselves in a better place than they were at the end of the coach’s tenure in Green Bay just over a year ago.
It will probably be very strange and a tad frustrating to see McCarthy roaming the sidelines in Dallas next season, but it’s not an altogether foreign occurrence to see a past leader of the Pack catching on as the head coach of an opponent. In fact, three of the franchise’s best coaches have gone on to carry clipboards for other NFL teams in a head coaching capacity after leaving (or being fired from) Titletown. As you get ready to see lots of Mike McCarthy in upcoming seasons, here’s a rundown of how other coaches have fared in their head coaching opportunities post-Packers.
There’s a reason Green Bay named its stadium Lambeau Field. In his combined 29 seasons as the player-coach and later solely the coach of the Packers, Curly Lambeau went 209-104-21 and led the team to an astounding six NFL Championships. However, following a 5-19 record in 1948-49, he moved on from his native Green Bay and took a job as the head coach of the Chicago Cardinals. There, he went 7-15 in the next two seasons before calling it a coaching career in Washington in 1952-53, where we improved slightly to a 10-13-1 standing in his last two seasons on the sidelines. Apparently there were no hard feelings from Green Bay, as the team Lambeau helped start decided to re-name City Stadium in his honor after the coach’s death in 1965.
After Lambeau and the Packers cut ties in 1949, the coaching reins were handed over to Gene Ronzani, who resigned before the conclusion of his fourth season with the team. The final two games of that 1953 season were lead by a tandem of coaches by the names of Hugh Devore and “Scooter” McLean. The latter would stay on with the team in an assistant capacity before finally getting his shot to coach the Packers himself in a non-interim basis in 1958 (when he went 1-10-1 and subsequently lost the job to Vince Lombardi). However, the other man in that 1953 duo went on to coach elsewhere after his (shared) 0-2 interim coaching stint in Green Bay. Devore got his chance to lead the Philadelphia Eagles in 1956, going a lousy 7-16-1 in the City Of Brotherly Love over the ’56 and 1957 seasons before returning to the collegiate coaching ranks.
Of course, we all know about Vince Lombardi’s coaching prowess with the Packers. In his nine seasons in Green Bay, he compiled an amazing 89-29-4 regular season record and went an unheard of 9-1 in the postseason en route to bringing a trio of NFL Champions and the first two Super Bowls of all-time to the place he’d help name “Titletown” on account of his efforts. He stepped down after the 1967 season, but stayed on as the Packers GM before winding up in the nation’s capital in 1969. During his lone season as Washington’s coach, he went 7-5-2 and failed to make the playoffs. He passed away in 1970.
When Lombardi stepped away from Green Bay’s coaching ranks, he handed the team over to his longtime defensive coordinator Phil Bengtson. Though surely instrumental in leading some dominant defenses during the Lombardi years, Bengtson’s success didn’t exactly follow him to his position as head coach. In three years as Green Bay’s head coach, he went 20-21-1 before landing another D-coordinator gig with the San Diego Chargers in 1971. In 1972, Bengtson was named the interim head coach for the New England Patriots’ final five games of a losing season. He went 1-4 in that stretch.
Following some success as an offensive coordinator with the Bengals and Browns, longtime assistant Lindy Infante finally got his shot in 1988. The Packers gave him the opportunity to be a head coach and, well, it didn’t go great. Infante went 24-40 in his four seasons in Green Bay, including a pair of 4-12 campaigns. Upon being fired in 1991, Infante was out of football for a few seasons before winding up as the offensive coordinator of the Colts in 1995 and, eventually, as the team’s head coach in 1996 and 1997. During his two seasons in Indy, Infante’s kept his .375 career winning percentage intact with a 12-20 mark.
When Infante was ousted before the 1992 season, he was replaced by a first-time head coach named Mike Holmgren. Any fan worth their weight in cheese knows what happened next. Holmgren brought the Packers to two consecutive Super Bowls (one win, one loss) and broke Green Bay’s near-30-year streak without a title. Following the 1998 season, Holmgren took his ring and his 75-37 regular season record to Seattle, where he turned the middling franchise around. He went on to have seven winning seasons in his 10 years with the Seahawks, going 86-74 and leading the 2005 Seattle squad to an NFC Championship in the process. Unfortunately, his 17-year span as a head coach ended on a sour note with a 4-12 season in 2008.