America’s biggest sporting event is set to take place on Sunday – the 2015 NFL Super Bowl XLIX – and this year history will be made as it will be the first time that both teams in the final have a head coach with Croatian descent. But New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll will be playing for more than just the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, they will be playing also for an all expenses paid trip to Croatia as well…
“The Croatian National Tourist Office, in a timely and impressive show of PR savvy, jumped into the fray, offering the winning coach a “trip back home:” an all-expense paid trip to Croatia in 2015. “the winning coach will get the chance to explore the land of his ancestors as he and his family experiences the impressive history, stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, medieval architecture and delectable cuisine of Croatia,” reported Forbes.
Belichick, whose 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, says he has been to Croatia before, the land of his paternal grandparents Ivan Biličić and Marija Barković, who emigrated from Karlovac in Croatia in 1897 and left for the USA, where they settled near Pittsburgh. No word if Carroll, whose maternal grandparents were from Dubrovnik in Croatia and his paternal great-grandparents Irish immigrants, has visited Croatia.
The Croatian connection at this year’s Super Bowl does not stop there, referee Bill Vinovich, also a man with Croatian roots, will officiate proceedings on Monday.