McCarthy facing hometown heroes in the Super Bowl

By Simon Evans

"Half my coaching staff has either played in Pittsburgh or is from Pittsburgh."

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements both held those roles with the Steelers while outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene and secondary coach Darren Perry both played on the Pittsburgh team that reached the 1995 Super Bowl.

The 47-year-old McCarthy, who coached at the University of Pittsburgh, spent his formative years in the city at a time when it was enjoying success across the sporting spectrum.

"We were the city of champions. The Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls. The Pirates won the World Series in '71 and '79. I've got great memories as far as Pittsburgh goes, particularly with sports," he said.


Those memories came walking into the Packers dressing room at Soldier Field Sunday after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 21-14 to win the NFC championship.

Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw presented the Packers with the championship trophy.

"I thought it was awesome to have Terry Bradshaw present the Halas Trophy in the locker room," he said. "Personally I got a charge out of that. Terry was obviously the quarterback in my youth during the 1970s."

After losing the NFC championship game in 2007, he faced the defining moment of his time in charge so far.

Popular quarterback Brett Favre, a veteran of 16 seasons with the Packers, had announced his retirement and McCarthy was ready to turn to his understudy Aaron Rodgers as his new starter.

Favre changed his mind and said he would return for another year but McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson decided to stick with Rodgers and trade Favre.

It was a risky move -- not only was Favre a fan favorite and an outstanding player, Rodgers was largely untried.

In the first season with Rodgers, the Packers finished third in the NFC North, missing out on the playoffs but it became clear last season and even more so this year that McCarthy had made the right call -- Favre's form faded while his replacement quickly matured into a top quarterback.

McCarthy, whose father was a Pittsburgh police officer and later a firefighter, is the kind of no-nonsense coach who is not going to reflect too much on that decision or get sentimental about his hometown links.

"Trust me I'm a Green Bay Packer and it's important for us to bring the Lombardi Trophy back home," he said.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)