This Super Bowl features two main Irish figures on opposite sides who have played arguably the greatest role in getting their teams to this stage.
Mike McCarthy, coach of the Green Bay Packers, and Dan Rooney and his family who created the great Steelers dynasty are both bound for the record books.
The Rooney-Steelers Irish link may be better known, but through McCarthy the Green Bay Packers have their own ties to Irish America.
No, it's not the green jerseys. Nice guess though.
Mike McCarthy had a strong Irish American upbringing. Ironically, his story begins in a Pittsburgh neighborhood called appropriately Greenfield, where he grew up the son of Joe and Ellen McCarthy. The owners of Joe McCarthy's Irish bar were born and raised in Greenfield where they raised their son.
An urban area of roughly 8,000 residents, Greenfield is the true setting of an Irish blue collar upbringing. The head coach of the Packers spent most of his childhood surrounded by his fellow Irish Americans working in his parents’ bar before going off to play tight end for Baker University.
There is a large Irish population in Greenfield and McCarthy is revered there for his charitable offerings. McCarthy donates $100,000 to his hometown every single year. The majority of that money goes towards tuition assistance for students at St. Rosalisa, which has 175 students.
In the school's entry hall is a framed 2007 letter from McCarthy, on Packers letterhead, thanking the students for naming him a "distinguished graduate." There is also a photograph of McCarthy that he signed, "St. Rosalisa -- No place like home."
McCarthy certainly hasn't forgotten his roots, and his roots haven't forgotten him.
Greenfield is torn between supporting its beloved Steelers and supporting McCarthy's Packers, or as local resident and cousin of the coach Bernie O'Connor puts it, "We can't lose...we're assured a win."
The unquestioned face of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the team’s former owner and current chairman emeritus, Dan Rooney, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his work as an owner in 2001 and is one of the most widely respected people associated with the NFL.
He is directly responsible for what is known as the "Rooney Rule" that requires each NFL franchise to interview one minority candidate when looking to fill head coaching/general manager positions.
He is renowned for being a straight talking character who is always able to look at situations rationally, the most recent of which was his opinion that the NFL should not go to an 18 game schedule, a key factor in the renegotiation of the labor agreement and as an owner something he would be expected to support.
The respect that Rooney has earned in America brought him to Ireland. After supporting Barack Obama's campaign for president, Rooney was asked to become Obama’s U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
Rooney's links to Ireland did not begin there however, as he is the co-founder of The Ireland Funds. The Irish fund-raising organization was set up in 1976 with three goals in mind, peace, culture and charity, and is still running today.
He was sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 1, 2009 and arrived in Ireland two days later, where he remains in his role today.
The Steelers' link to the Irish people is hugely underplayed, considering the original founder of the franchise, Dan Rooney's father Art, had his autobiography entitled “Ruanaidh,” which is Gaelic for Rooney.
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