Football players are creatures of habit who resist sudden changes in schedule. That’s why coaches throughout Super Bowl history have tried to acclimate their squads to the quirkiest, most unsettled week of their lives in various ways. Coach Mike McCarthy, who will lead Green Bay against Pittsburgh on Feb. 6, moved back his schedule.
The Packers started their work week Thursday, which was really a Monday in Titletown. His team will also work Friday, which is really Wednesday, and Saturday, which is really Thursday, before catching their breath for two days and flying to Dallas on Monday, which is really Monday.
The ostensible object is to give his sixth-seeded players a rest after five straight weeks of playoff-type intensity. But he also wants to focus his team as close to Super Bowl XLV as possible.
“I really wanted to make sure that the players have a chance to get their bodies back and have plenty of time to take care of their personal responsibilities that go into the preparation for Super Bowl week,” McCarthy said Thursday. “I basically moved [the work week] back as far as I could.”
When the Giants reached Super Bowl XXV, Bill Parcells flew his team overnight to Tampa, Fla., from the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco. They were a half-day ahead of their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, and perhaps felt ahead of Buffalo in their preparation as well.
Whether that caused Scott Norwood to push his potential game-winning field goal wide right is debatable, but McCarthy, too, will try to boost his team’s psyche by jiggling his schedule.
“It’s just important to paint the picture anytime you go into a new environment,” McCarthy said. “When you go into a new environment, there are going to be adjustments.”