Home » Sport » Super Bowl 2017: Croatian Connection in the Final

Super Bowl 2017: Croatian Connection in the Final

Rob Ninkovich & Bill Belichick (photo credit: Steven Senne/AP)

The 2015 NFL Super Bowl XLIX was the first time in Super Bowl history that coaches of Croatian descent squared off against each other.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick got the better of his Seattle counterpart Pete Carroll in the battle of ‘Croatians’ coaches that year and now in 2017 there will be two with Croatian connections also taking part in the biggest sporting event of the year in the US.

The 51st Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, which will take place in Houston on Monday 6 February 2017, will have a Croatian connection.

Patriots coach Belichick will be back again coaching in his NFL-record seventh Super Bowl.

Belichick’s paternal grandparents Ivan Biličić and Marija Barković emigrated from Karlovac in Croatia in 1897 and left for the USA, where they settled near Pittsburgh.

His 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.

Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich will also be taking part.

“One day I asked my grandparents where our ancestry was from. They told me, and since I don’t speak Croatian I don’t remember. I know that they mentioned a place which was not on the coast. But a few years ago when I saw Dubrovnik was one of the 5 nicest places in the world, I decided to answer those who asked that I was from Dubrovnik, although I am not”, Ninkovich told Sportklub, Gol reported.

Rob Ninkovich (image: Jeffery Beall under CC)

Belichick has a chance on Sunday to win his 5th Super Bowl, whilst Ninkovich will be aiming for his second.

“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 in 2015.

Share on:
5 / 5 (2 votes)

Sign up to receive the Croatia Week Newsletter

Related Posts

Croatia are the New Water Polo World Champions

Croatia has beaten Hungary in Budapest tonight to be crowned the new world water polo champions. Croatia, led by coach Ivica Tucak, have reclaimed the world title they last won in 2007 with a 9:6 victory over the hosts Hungary in the final of the 2017 FINA World Water Polo Championship on Saturday night. Croatia...

Scottish Fans Blown Away by Croatian Hospitality

A pair of football fans from Scotland have had a weekend in Croatia they will not forget in a hurry. Steve Fraser (50) and Nicci Falconer (45) got the red carpet treatment in Rijeka last weekend when they turned up to watch the Croatian league leaders at home to Split. The loyal Aberdeen fans had...

UEFA Europa League Playoffs: Mixed Night For 3 Croatian Clubs

The three Croatian clubs involved in the UEFA Europa League playoffs will have their work cut for them after a disappointing night on Thursday in first leg action. Dinamo Zagreb could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Albanian side Skenderbeu. Latifi opened the scoring in the 37th minute and could have been 2-0...

Hajduk Split & Osijek Advance in UEFA Europa League Qualifying

All Croatian teams involved in European competitions have safely advanced through to the next stages of qualifying. On Tuesday NK Rijeka thumped Welsh side The New Saints 5-1 to make the third round of UEFA Champions League qualifying, and on Thursday it was the turn of the Croatian sides involved in UEFA Europa League qualifying....

Sandra Perković Wins Discus Gold at World Championships in London

Double Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic has won her second World Championship title on Sunday. Perkovic has won gold at the IAAF World Championships in London with a throw of 70.31 metres in the final. The Croatian, who has dominated women’s discus in recent times, had earlier qualified for today’s final with a huge throw of 69.67...

Dina Levačić (21) Becomes First Croatian to Swim Around Manhattan

21-year-old Dina Levačić became the first Croatian to swim around Manhattan on Sunday, 25 June 2017. Dina, who is originally from Split but is currently a student in Zagreb, completed the 46 km swim on Sunday, starting from the southern shore, near where the World Trade Centre was, along the East and Harlem Rivers, and...