History will be made this Monday when the New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 NFL Super Bowl XLIX – America’s biggest sporting event. It will be the first time in Super Bowl history that coaches of Croatian descent square off against each other…
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be hoping to get one of his Seattle counterpart Pete Carroll in the battle of ‘Croatians’ coaches, and it won’t be the first time the Belichick has come up against a coach with the same root as him in the NFL.
“The last big Croatian matchup that I had was with Coach (Nick) Saban when he was with the Dolphins and that was within the division — we kind of had the battle of Croatia,” Belichick said at a press conference ahead of the next week’s Super Bowl. “But I am very proud of my dad’s family tradition and history with Croatians. I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful country a couple of times and I’m proud of that heritage. It looks like we’ll have a Croatian champion one way or the other, right?” Belichick joked.
Belichick’s father, Steve Belichick (born Stephen Biličić), played for the Detroit Lions and was an assistant coach and scout with the United States Naval Academy football team for 33 years. His paternal grandparents Ivan Biličić and Marija Barković emigrated from Karlovac in Croatia in 1897 and left for the USA, where they settled near Pittsburgh.
Carroll though, whose maternal grandparents were Croatian and his paternal great-grandparents Irish immigrants, will be hoping he can get one over his former club on Monday. Carroll was head coach of the New England Patriots from 1997 – 1999. With a coach of Croatian descent guaranteed to win this year’s Super Bowl, it won’t be the first time that has happened as both Carroll and Belichick are previous Super Bowl winners. (photo credit / Luis Espinosa Garay)