A few hours ago, we were discussing the tough-guy routine of Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who offered "no apologies" to players whose feelings were hurt by initial plans to leave them out of the Super Bowl XLV team photograph.
Where did McCarthy develop that personality? In this week's ESPN.com Hot Read, Liz Merrill traces McCarthy's upbringing in Pittsburgh and offers a visceral tale of his rise. An exerpt:
The boy got a Jack Lambert jersey for Christmas. He was 17 when his father loaded up the family, all seven of them, and headed down the hill, across the Monongahela River, to the lights of the city to see the premiere of a Pittsburgh Steelers movie.
He grew up in a neighborhood of winding hills and practical homes where people never leave, never think of it, because it's home. His mother and father were born here, in a blue-collar neighborhood called Greenfield, and that's where they've stayed for nearly seven decades. His Sundays were all about ritual: church, chores and a mass scramble to finish everything by 1 o'clock because that's when the Steelers played.
His loyalty was undying. Everywhere he went, he told stories about how tough the people were in Pittsburgh. When he became a football coach, he fired up his teams this way, with tales from this city. It made them want to destroy their opponents. Made them feel like they could do anything.
In a week, Pittsburgh's native son will be on all of their television screens. Mike McCarthy will run onto the field with his Green Bay Packers, his first appearance in a Super Bowl. And for 60 minutes, McCarthy will plot, improvise and strategize and do everything he can to beat his hometown Steelers.