On the surface, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll have a lot in common.

The two head coaches of this year's Super Bowl squads were born less than a year apart. They both rose through the ranks as defensive specialists and they've both won a Super Bowl. They've both served as the head coach of the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.

Dig a little deeper and the similarities continue.

Both men, it turns out, have Croatian roots, making this the first Super Bowl in which both coaches can trace ancestors to Croatia.


This being Super Bowl media week, a time in which virtually no question is out of bounds, someone asked Belichick about this interesting nugget. Surprisingly, the normally demure Belichick had something to say about the shared heritage:

"Very proud of my dad's family tradition and history with Croatians," Belichick said. "Had the opportunity to visit the beautiful country a couple of times and I’m proud of that heritage. But no, I didn’t realize we were breaking new ground here. So looks like we’ll have a Croatian champion one way or the other, right?"

Belichick's grandparents, Marija and Ivan, immigrated from Croatia to the United States in 1897. Carroll has Croatian ancestry on his maternal side.

But these two men aren't the only successful football coaches to claim Croatian ancestry. Belichick mentioned another well-known defensive guru who has roots in the Balkans.

“You know, I mean, the last big Croatian matchup that I had was with coach (Nick) Saban when he was with the Dolphins and that was within the division," Belichick said. "We kind of had the battle of Croatia."

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