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Monday, Jan. 24, 2011
 

Ellen McCarthy will be cheering on the Green Bay Packers when they lace up against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

The lifelong Greenfield resident doesn't have much of a choice. Her son, Mike McCarthy, is the team's head coach.

"We root for the Steelers when they're not playing the Packers," McCarthy, 69, said of herself and her husband, Joe. "But in the Super Bowl, we have to go with our son."

A few hours after the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears, 21-14, in the NFC title game and the Steelers took a commanding 24-3 lead into halftime of the AFC title game -- a game they held on to win, 24-19 -- the hometown hero's old neighborhood began to buzz.

"To me, it's a can't lose situation," said John Sicoli, 65, of Greenfield. "If the if the Steelers win the Super Bowl, I'm happy because it's the home town team. If Mike wins, I'll be just as happy."

Sicoli, McCarthy's grade school baseball and basketball coach, said the Packers' head cheese hasn't forgotten where he grew up.

McCarthy included an annual $300,000 contribution evenly split among Greenfield, Green Bay charities and his alma mater, Baker University in Kansas, as part of his $3.4 million coaching contract.

Ninety percent of the donation goes toward tuition relief to the dwindling enrollment at St. Rosalia Academy, the grade school which he led to a Diocesan basketball championship with a 39-1 record as an eighth-grader. Another $10,000 is split between the Greenfield Organization and Greenfield Baseball Association.

"You have to root for a guy like that," Sicoli said.

McCarthy began his NFL career as an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1999, he became an offense coordinator of the New Orleans Saints and in 2005 he served as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He was hired in 2006 to be the Packers' head coach, where he has compiled a 48-32 record.

Packers jerseys were hard to find yesterday. But at Archie's bar in the South Side, Bradford native Jeremy Funkhouser donned an Aaron Rodgers No. 12.

"I'm rooting for the Packers and the Steelers today," said Funkhouser, 32, of Greentree who inherited his father's allegiance to the Packers. "But in the Super Bowl, I'll root for the Packers."

Ken Bradley, who has lived next door to the McCarthys since Mike McCarthy was in high school, said he plans to cheer for the Packers one half and the Steelers the other.

The victor: "I have to say the Steelers," he said.

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