Mike McCarthy has never forgotten where he's from, and where he's from won't forget him, either.
The Packers head coach returned to Pittsburgh on Tuesday during the team's bye week to honor his roots as well as be honored himself.
As part of the NFL's Super Bowl Honor Roll campaign to recognize communities that have produced Super Bowl champions in the 50 years of the NFL's league title game, McCarthy presented St. Rosalia Academy in his native Greenfield neighborhood with a commemorative Wilson Golden Football.
At the same time, the city of Pittsburgh issued a "Mike McCarthy Day" proclamation. Several McCarthy family members were on hand to enjoy the day, along with a few dignitaries, namely Pittsburgh city councilman Corey O'Connor and Bishop David Zubik, the current bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and formerly that of Green Bay.
"It's always great to get back to Pittsburgh," McCarthy said in a brief phone interview with packers.com following the festivities. "You walk through the halls of the school and the cafeteria, it brings back a lot of great memories.
"Some of my former classmates were here today, and it was great to catch up and have a few laughs."
One individual he caught up with was longtime coach Jim Gregg, who has coached youth baseball in Greenfield for the last 50 years. McCarthy has spoken often of his reverence for Gregg as a community icon and the impact he had on McCarthy and continues to have on Greenfield youth.
In his younger days, McCarthy also played basketball, the only school sport offered when he attended St. Rosalia up through eighth grade. The Super Bowl Honor Roll campaign is targeted for high schools, but the Bishop Boyle High School in Homestead, Pa., that McCarthy attended closed in the 1980s, so he chose to honor St. Rosalia.
"It taught you a lot of things – structure, discipline, obviously the spiritual education," McCarthy said. "We were very good in sports. We had good coaching. There was a lot of school pride."
That pride was evident during the golden football presentation, which McCarthy said was "like a pep rally." McCarthy visited with several current students and took questions from a few.
St. Rosalia Academy in Pittsburgh was presented with a Wilson Golden Football, while the city of Pittsburgh proclaimed Oct. 20, 2015 "Mike McCarthy Day". Photos by Packers.com.
Two students in attendance were his own nieces, further illustrating the McCarthy family's longstanding connection to St. Rosalia, where McCarthy's parents still attend church and are active members.
Schools receiving a golden football will have an opportunity to tap into some of the NFL Foundation's resources, including a new character education curriculum and the opportunity to apply for grants to help support football programs.
To McCarthy, that made the day an extension of charitable efforts he's made on behalf of the Greenfield area and St. Rosalia in the past. Both have been among many beneficiaries of the McCarthy Family Foundation, a philanthropic commitment McCarthy and his wife Jessica began several years ago.
"It's helped a lot of people here, and that's what it's all about," McCarthy said. "It's about giving back."