When things go wrong with a team, the true causes are rarely known.
Immediately, that is.
For weeks, rumors swirled like a winter Wisconsin wind that all was not well between the Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and 13-year coach Mike McCarthy.
The big problem, of course, was that the team wasn't winning, as many believed it should have been.
After all, the team has a Hall of Fame quaterback and half of NFL teams play with third-rate plodders in that position because they'd rather have them than, dare I mention, Colin Kaepernick.
The Packers, though, decided that McCarthy had to go. So what if he'd won a Superbowl?
This, the team insisted, was the time.
"Well, thanks very much," might have been many people's embittered reply. Followed by 14 expletives.
McCarthy, though, somehow managed to avoid rancor. Instead, he published a letter in local newspapers.
It was, to say the least, disarming:
Tuesday night I walked onto the field at Lambeau for the last time with my friend and legendary equipment guys Red Batty and T-Bone Bakken. I reminded Red of our conversation in 2006 when he told me that the pride was in the bricks at Lambeau Field
More than ever, I now know the pride is in the people.
It's hard to articulate the impact this job had on me and my family. From the beginning, Green Bay has welcomed me with open arms. I met my beautiful wife Jessica here and raised our family of 5 children who will always call Green Bay home. Thank you for the immense outpouring of love our family received this week and throughout our time here. This speaks to the quality of folks in the State of Wisconsin. Coach Lombardi said it best. 'Green Bay is all about Faith, Family and Football.'
The Green Bay Packers are a tremendous organization and I will always be proud of my time with the team. A special thanks to Bob Harlan and Ted Thompson, who entrusted me in 2006 with an incredible opportunity to be the 14th Packers head coach. Titletown is the greatest football town in America. Representing this team is a privilege that I never once took for granted.
Thanks to all the players I coached. It was an honor to lead you as you chased your dreams. I am proud that you always reflected the Packers standard while chasing excellence in the ultra-competitive National Football League. You always understood what an honor and privilege it was to represent the organization and the community.
To my coaching and support staff: I will be forever indebted to you and your loved ones for what you did for me and the organization. The amount of dedication, commitment and time we spent together will always be our bond. Special thanks to my assistants Lisa Waeghe and Matt Klein who were integral parts of the team and our success.
To the fans, your connection to the team is special and unique. Thanks you for your endless passion, energy and commitment. That enthusiasm is always an important component of the Packers success.
There is an unmistakable pride that runs through the bloodline of all Green Bay Packers, and that is why it's not the bricks ... but the Packers people and the pride they have for this organization that I will miss the most.
I wish nothing but the best for the Green Bay Packers moving forward,
The most important word is the last one: sincerely.
You could believe that, in writing this letter, McCarthy was being entirely sincere about his feelings for his players, his staff and his friends.
You could believe that, in naming his assistants rather than any stars, he truly understood the role that the unsung play.
Of course he must have felt angry, bewildered and even betrayed.
But to have an emotional perspective that allows you to see not the immediate slight, but the bigger picture of sustained success -- in a league peppered by owners whose egos are far vaster than their personal achievements -- is a rare talent.
Just as important is the word he didn't include in this letter: Superbowl.
Not once did he feel the need to remind those reading that he'd won the big one. Not once did he boast of anything, in fact.
Instead, perspective, gratitude and good wishes.
How many could have managed that?
And how many general managers will now still be interested in adding McCarthy's class to their organizations?