What's Buzzing:

Packers' McCarthy putting down roots in Titletown

AP - Sports
Packers' McCarthy putting down roots in Titletown

View photo

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JULY 4-6 - FILE - In this Dec. 30, 2012 file photo, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, in Minneapolis. After family and coaching, a children's hospital might be McCarthy's biggest passion _ even if it means running into the occasional Bears fan. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- He might be a Chicago Bears fan, but Austin Scheutz proudly displays a Packers foam cheesehead at least once a year.

Signed by the Big Cheese himself in fact - Packers coach Mike McCarthy - while he visited a children's hospital where the 6-year-old Scheutz was being treated for leukemia. After family and coaching, the hospital might be McCarthy's biggest passion - even if it means running into the occasional Bears fan.

''That's always an interesting conversation,'' joked McCarthy about interactions with fans of the Packers' bitter NFC North rival. McCarthy, of course, is dressed in green Packers sweats after an offseason team workout.

One of the longest-tenured coaches in the NFL is entering his ninth year in Green Bay and it sure looks like home. McCarthy's roots in blue-collar western Pennsylvania have made him a sensible fit in the Upper Midwest, shaping everything from how he runs his team to how he spends his precious free time off the field.

McCarthy's back story is familiar now in Wisconsin. His father was a policeman and fireman. Family owned a bar near a steel mill. Worked as a highway toll collector on the graveyard shift to make money while working as a volunteer assistant at the University of Pittsburgh.

He grew up watching the Pittsburgh Steelers while they were coached by Chuck Noll, who died last month.

''He was someone I like to emulate. I was a big fan as a kid,'' McCarthy said. ''After getting in to the coaching profession, I really appreciated him a lot more, his approach, his style, his humility. He seemed like a very consistent, tough champion.''

If that sounds like McCarthy, he would be pleased by the comparison.

The Packers have certainly been consistent under the offensive-minded McCarthy, winning a Super Bowl in 2010 behind star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense, on the other hand, is undergoing another tweak after an injury-filled and subpar 2013 season.

Here's where some of that blue-collar background comes in: McCarthy harps on work ethic, the ''Packer Way.'' Not just coach speak, his no-nonsense demeanor gives words more emphasis, sounding at times as if he just came off the second shift at the mill.

''Just talking with Mike today, you sense kind of the hunger that we have, which is exciting,'' Rodgers said. ''The locker room is a little louder than maybe it's been in the last few years, and I think that's just an influx of energy that we have.''

McCarthy said a big part of growing up in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Greenfield was learning a work ethic, ''the importance of outworking the next guy. There's definitely a fabric of toughness.''

''I think everything you do is part of who you are and where you come from, yeah,'' McCarthy said in a recent interview at Lambeau Field.

Less immediately evident is the influence it's had on McCarthy outside of the NFL spotlight. He's one of five siblings in an Irish Catholic family. McCarthy has five children with his wife, Jessica, a teacher.

''She married more than a husband. She took the responsibility of this job and growing up in this town,'' he said. ''I look back on it, I put so much on her plate. ... She makes our family better each and every day.''

Having grown up in a city with well-known medical facilities, including a top children's hospital, it makes sense that, McCarthy and his wife found the University of Wisconsin's American Family Children's Hospital to be a perfect fit as the cause for their family foundation.

It has raised about $1.5 million over the past five years for the UW hospital in Madison over the past five years, helping fund a neonatal intensive care unit and other improvements. Scheutz, who was diagnosed with leukemia, brought along his youth-sized cheesehead to his foundation's recent dinner that preceded an annual golf tournament.

Austin, who is now in remission, first met McCarthy last year after the boy had relapsed, his mother, Kim, said. There's now an exception to the anti-Packers rules in the Scheutz household.

''We're Bears fans, so Austin has been kind of trained - every time he sees Packers stuff he goes, 'Boo, Packers,''' she said. ''But he loved Coach McCarthy.''

McCarthy shrugs off the praise.

''I believe in the phrase 'It takes a village to raise a child.' When you're a pillar in your village, you have a responsibility to make sure your village is intact,'' said McCarthy, who played tight end at tiny Baker University in Kansas before beginning his three-decade climb up the coaching ranks.

Green Bay might be the smallest market in the NFL, but it's a hardly a village. In Wisconsin, Titletown is the capital of Packers country.

A coaching lifer, McCarthy had a stop as an assistant in 1999 with the Packers that he said helped him understand the fabric of Green Bay. Similarities to the Steelers, another marquee NFL team, were immediately evident.

He still swoons over his mother's pierogies. Right about now, he could go for one of those Pittsburgh-style sandwiches stuffed with french fries.

But only if he can get it delivered to Green Bay. He's not planning on going anywhere any time soon.

''Let's be honest - it's about winning, so that's really what it comes down to. I always felt very comfortable here. I loved the town. I like the pace of Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Midwest,'' McCarthy said. ''This is definitely my preference.''



Mike and Jessica McCarthy Foundation: http://www.uwhealthkids.org/get-involved/mike-and-jessica-mccarthy-golf-tournament/36222


Follow Genaro Armas at https://twitter.com/GArmasAP

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (36)
  • Nadal beats Fognini to reach final of China Open

    Nadal beats Fognini to reach final of China Open

    BEIJING (AP) -- Rafael Nadal reached his first hard-court final in more than a year on Saturday, beating Fabio Fognini 7-5, 6-3 in the China Open semifinals. … More »

    AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago
  • Lorenzo takes pole in Japan, De Angelis in hospital

    Lorenzo takes pole in Japan, De Angelis in hospital

    San Marino rider Alex de Angelis was airlifted to hospital after a heavy crash during final practice at the Japanese MotoGP on Saturday before a dramatic qualifying session saw Jorge Lorenzo grab pole from title rival Valentino Rossi. MotoGP … More »

    Reuters - 12 minutes ago
  • Korda fires to the front at LPGA Malaysia

    American Jessica Korda shrugged off her woeful recent form to fire an impressive six-under-par 65 and take a two-shot lead after a humid third round of the high-calibre $2 million LPGA Malaysia on Saturday. The 22-year-old daughter of former … More »

    Reuters - 14 minutes ago
  • Paire upsets Nishikori, faces Wawrinka in Japan Open final

    Paire upsets Nishikori, faces Wawrinka in Japan Open final

    Unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire will take on Stan Wawrinka in the Japan Open final after storming back from a set down to upset home favourite Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals on Saturday. Paire, competing in his first ATP Tour 500 semi-final, … More »

    Reuters - 14 minutes ago
  • Mercedes defend decision to withhold latest engine

    Mercedes defend decision to withhold latest engine

    By Alan Baldwin SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Mercedes' decision to limit their latest Formula One engine to works team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is due purely to technical and logistical reasons, according to motorsport director Toto … More »

    Reuters - 16 minutes ago