Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy answers a question...

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy answers a question during media day. (Feb. 1, 2011) Credit: AP

ARLINGTON, TexasAny other day, any other team, any other Super Bowl, chances are Mike McCarthy would be pulling for the Steelers. After all, isn't that what any Pittsburgh native who grew up rooting for the Steelers - especially the legendary teams of the 1970s - is supposed to do?

You grow up in the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh, you root for the Steelers. Period. Noll. Bradshaw. Rooney. Mean Joe. Lambert. Shell. Back there, it is all about the black and gold. And you don't call them the Steelers. It's pronounced Stillers.

"We're all a big part of the way we grew up, and the Greenfield community and Pittsburgh is a very special place," McCarthy said. "It was very unique to me back in the '70s. My family is still there. It's just the way of how people took care of one another. It was always about the kids. There were so many kids at that particular time in our neighborhood. There were a lot of activities to do. You felt that was your own city."

McCarthy's Pittsburgh accent still is thick and unmistakable, and he will never apologize for his roots, only look to them with pride. But his loyalties now lie strictly with the green and gold of Green Bay.

Tonight, McCarthy will attempt to carve out his own slice of history alongside another set of legendary names from another franchise equally steeped in history. He hopes to beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV and join Lambeau, Lombardi and Holmgren as the latest to bring a championship to the place they call Titletown.

"I have a lot of memories of the Pittsburgh Steelers from growing up in Pittsburgh, so personally, it's unique for my family and I," said McCarthy, 47, who played football and basketball at Bishop Boyle High School and later was an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. "I have great respect for the Rooney family and just the way they've always operated their business. Growing up in Pittsburgh is a big part of who I am."

The loyalties end there, though.

"I am a Green Bay Packer, and we've come here to claim the Lombardi Trophy," he said.

If it happens, McCarthy will do it by providing his unique stamp on a team that has made a successful transition from the Brett Favre days to the Aaron Rodgers era.

McCarthy, who also calls the offensive plays and thus is responsible for Rodgers' development, got to the NFC Championship Game with Favre in 2007 before losing to the Giants at home.

He took the next step this year with Rodgers, a quarterback he once spurned while serving as the 49ers' offensive coordinator in 2005. McCarthy put his stock in Alex Smith when the Niners had the first overall pick; it was the same year Packers general manager Ted Thompson drafted Rodgers at No. 24 overall.

McCarthy had some explaining to do to Thompson when he was interviewed the next year for the Green Bay head- coaching job. The explanation satisfied Thompson, and he selected McCarthy for the job.

"It's a totally different experience between Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers," McCarthy said. "Alex Smith was on a football team that was really entering a transition. Look at his path as far as the number of players that have changed on that football team and the number of offensive coordinators that have changed on his football team since he was drafted. Aaron came into a very stable environment. He came into an offensive system that was pretty much in place since the early '90s."

The McCarthy-Rodgers alliance now is on the threshold of winning a fourth Super Bowl title for the Packers. They're playing for their place in history. A win over McCarthy's hometown Steelers, and he can add his name to the legacy for the other storied franchise he now calls home.

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