I fully planned to move on past the Green Bay Packers' team photograph issue. Feelings were hurt. The matter was addressed. Everyone seems happy now.
And then I listened to Packers coach Mike McCarthy's Thursday morning news conference. McCarthy made clear that he was and remains miffed at linebacker Nick Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley for complaining publicly about a schedule that would have left them out of the photo. McCarthy called it a "total overreaction," said "no apologies will be given" and on several occasions referred to the inevitability of feelings getting hurt in the run-up to a Super Bowl appearance.
"I think they made a poor decision, what they did," McCarthy said. "But we feel great. Because if that's the biggest issue we have in our preparation, then we're going to have a hell of a week. So it's really not that big of a deal."
As we discussed earlier, McCarthy and Packers general manager Ted Thompson are two no-nonsense football guys who aren't likely to spend much time contemplating the composition of a team photograph. Players on injured reserve typically accompany their teammates to the Super Bowl, but McCarthy said "a number of components" went into scheduling the Packers' 15 injured players for an arrival next Thursday in Dallas.
"We have to create the environment and the structure down there to get [the healthy players] ready for this game," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he heard about Barnett and Finley's complaints Tuesday but "frankly didn't pay much mind to it because of the individuals involved." But two of the Packers' team captains, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and cornerback Charles Woodson, broached the subject with him Tuesday night during a previously-scheduled meeting. (Earlier: Woodson emerges as a team leader.)
"They did what good captains do," McCarthy said. "We had a good conversation."
In the end, McCarthy and Thompson decided to re-schedule the team photograph for next Friday to include the injured players.
I really don't think there was any malice involved in this process but you can sure see some of McCarthy's tough-guy Pittsburgh roots on display here. I don't think he liked having to take time to deal with something as insignificant, at least in his mind, as a team photograph while he prepared for his first Super Bowl as a head coach. And I'm guessing he doesn't spend much time checking his players' communication on the social media tool he referred to as "Tweeter" on Thursday.
But as we discussed Wednesday, the team photograph carries meaning with many players, if not their head coach or general manager. Kudos to Rodgers and Woodson for bridging that gap, and to McCarthy for not fighting it any further.