Recently, the University of Pittsburgh revealed that it had found a cure for the Zika virus in mice, which might lead to a cure for humans in the near future. Does Pitt have to cure everything? It’d be nice to see someone else step up and help out. I’m looking at you, Eastern Kentucky.
But I guess Western Pennsylvania does have to do everything. If it weren’t for us, we would live in a world void of Big Macs, Jeeps, Mr. Yuk stickers, Ferris wheels, banana splits and Arnold Palmers. We would live in a less happy world where people drank their iced tea and lemonade separately. From Erie to Johnstown, Western Pennsylvania is made up of four million inhabitants. And while one out of 80 Americans lives here, we also provide the NFL with almost 10 percent of its head coaches.
If you want to be an NFL head coach, the road goes through Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin started his career here in 2007. Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey and Arizona’s Bruce Arians were both Steelers offensive coordinators. Denver’s John Fox and Baltimore’s Jim Harbaugh both worked at Pitt. (Fox was with the Steelers as well.) Even New Orleans head coach Sean Payton played football at the Civic Arena as a member of the Pittsburgh Gladiators arena-football team. In all, six head coaches have Pittsburgh connections and another three are from here.
Mike McCarthy brought his Green Bay Packers to town to show them how good Aiello’s Pizza in Squirrel Hill really is. We should love him for that, but he also beat the Steelers in a Super Bowl, so we have mixed feelings. McCarthy, a Greenfield native, also spent some time at Pitt as a coach. He was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2005, and since then has won five division titles and a Super Bowl. McCarthy has also groomed another young Western Pa. coach, Ben McAdoo.
McAdoo is head coach of the New York Giants. The Homer City native was a Pitt graduate assistant under Walt Harris and McCarthy’s quarterback coach in Green Bay. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate is in his first season after replacing Tom Coughlin. What is most Western Pennsylvanian about McAdoo is his legendary mustache. It even has its own Twitter account (@McAdoosStache). We love mustaches so much we have a Mustache Hall of Fame. We’ll see if McAdoo can get into the NFL Hall of Fame, but there’s plenty of time, since he’s only 39 years old. If not, he’s got a good chance to be enshrined in the Mustache HOF. Lanny McDonald, Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers are all in that shrine, but no football players have made it yet.
Mike McCarthy and Ben McAdoo are very fortunate to lead great football organizations. The Giants and Packers are two of only six NFL franchises with four or more Super Bowls; Pittsburgh, Dallas, New England, and San Francisco round out the Elite six. However, the last coach on this list doesn’t exactly have that luxury: McDonald, Pa.’s Marvin Lewis coaches the Bengals.
In his defense, Lewis does the best he can. At the very least, he’s the winningest and longest-tenured coach in the Bengals’ sad history. Cincinnati would build a statue to this man if he would only do one thing — win a playoff game. Bengals fans haven’t seen that happen since January 1991. Lewis has gotten them to the postseason seven times, and all seven were one-and-done. That’s seven walks of shame in 13 years for the Bengals under Lewis, but at least Marvin gets them some action. McDonald, Pa., has a population of about 2,000 people, and they gave us two head coaches. While he doesn’t coach anymore, Marty Schottenheimer is from the same town. That’s the guy who led the Cleveland Browns to two, yes, two playoff wins. You’re welcome, Browns and Bengals fans; McDonald gave you the best coaches your teams have had in the Super Bowl era.
So check out the NFL sidelines for coaches with Western Pennsylvania ties. And if you’re watching the World Series this week you’ll notice that the Cleveland Indians are in it. They haven’t won a World Series since 1948, when Truman was president. The man who might break that curse is Cleveland manager Terry Francona. Francona managed the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles, and ended Beantown’s 86-year championship drought. He looks to reverse a 68-year-old curse this week. Oh, by the way, Terry Francona is from New Brighton.