ESPN: Mike McCarthy's Irish Catholic roots in Pittsburgh

McCathy at St Norbert's
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. 

If you want to know why Mike McCarthy pulled overnighters back in his days as an NFL assistant in Kansas City, why he offered to work for free in his first coaching job, the answers are found with [his father] Joe. He's a no-nonsense Irish Catholic man who taught his five kids to be independent. To make their own way.

St. Rosalia, which is located, of course, on Greenfield Avenue, resembles a time capsule sealed off in 1973. There is green tile on the walls and a whiff of old books in the air. Children file out of school in uniforms, obediently and in order, just like their parents did.

McCarthy's high school, Bishop Boyle, shuttered in 1987. So this is the coach's one true remaining alma mater in Pittsburgh. He comes back occasionally and can be seen at church with his parents. When the Packers made him their head coach in 2006, he didn't forget St. Rosalia. He had an annual donation to the school drafted into his contract, with an agreement that the Packers would match his pledge.

The gift has helped the school, which has seen enrollment numbers plummet from 600 students during McCarthy's days to 175, stay afloat. For Dara Pegher, it's helped her family. Pegher graduated from St. Rosalia and says the coach's donation made her daughter's tuition bill more affordable. That's what most of McCarthy's gift went to, helping parents send their kids to the school he loves.

On Monday, Pegher, the parent-teachers guild president, stood in the entrance of St. Rosalia, near a picture of McCarthy. She was approached by a priest who joked and asked what color she'd be wearing to mass on Sunday: green or black?

Green, Pegher said.

"You know what? When that game started," Pegher said, "I had tears in my eyes. Because he has worked so hard. And what he's done for this school is a gift unlike any other gift.

"Prayers were answered." 
The whole thing is a great read on

McCarthy is a daily Mass goer, like Vince Lombardi was.  The Compass is planning on having some Packer coverage for their Feb 4th issue.  I'll be interested to see what they have in store.

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