Dom Capers made a name for himself as a defensive coordinator for Pittsburgh, where he coached a young safety named Darren Perry and a feared linebacker named Kevin Greene.
On Sunday, the red-hot Green Bay Packers travel to Pittsburgh to play the slumping Steelers. Chances are, those four Packers coaches know where to find a good bite to eat.
"Well, it's a very good football team that has had some struggles of late," McCarthy said, his answer to a question about Pittsburgh speaking to his business-like approach with a team that's pointed to the playoffs.
"We know we are going to get their best shot. They are still the defending world champions for many different reasons. We're playing at their place. This is going to be a true test to our football team. We're just starting to break them down as coaches, and we need to have a good plan, we need to execute at a high level to beat this team."
McCarthy was born in Pittsburgh in 1963, one of five children born to Joe and Ellen McCarthy. Four years during the formative stages of his coaching career were spent at the University of Pittsburgh.
Pressed about what this trip means personally, McCarthy flashed a smile.
"Oh yeah, it's always neat going home," he said. "I had the opportunity to go home two years ago (for a 2007 preseason game), so that was neat. It's probably good that I had a chance to do that, but this is a business trip for all of us, myself included. Truly, we're focused on getting to 10 wins."
A big reason why the Packers are on pace to get at least 10 wins is Capers, the team's first-year defensive coordinator. Capers' first coordinator gig game in 1992 with Pittsburgh, when he was hired by a young, first-time head coach named Bill Cowher. Capers, Cowher and two other up-and-comers by the names of Dick LeBeau and Marvin Lewis plotted the Steelers' defense. And with it, "Blitzburgh" was born.
"We wrote a whole book," Capers told Packer Report for a recent feature in the magazine. "I can remember a 900-page book with the defense. Then you kind of gravitate. The first year we were there, we couldn't rush the passer. We weren't very good up front. We had very good coverage people but we couldn't get much pressure on the quarterback. So, we started to experiment a little bit more with some zone blitz stuff at the end of the year."
"By the third year," Capers said with a smile, "we did it a lot."
Kevin Greene celebrates an AFC title on Jan. 6, 1996.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
"I had a couple good years there, but that's a long time ago," said Greene, in his first season as the Packers' outside linebackers coach. "I'm a coach now. The reality is, we need to win. We need to go down there and play physical against a team that prides itself on playing physical.
"I don't want to get into that stuff right now because we're focused on putting together the best game plan to beat these guys. We need this game."
Perry was an eighth-round draft pick out of Penn State by Cowher in 1992 and immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup at safety under Capers.
In seven seasons with the Steelers, Perry intercepted 32 passes and recovered eight fumbles.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't (have a lot of memories)," said Perry, in his first year as the Packers' safeties coach. "When you work with a lot of those guys and go through some of the experiences that you went through with them, it was a special place. I guess only time will tell in terms of all the emotions and that type of thing, but it should be fun. I'm looking forward to it. I owe a lot to Pittsburgh. They gave me my start. The Rooneys, I can't say enough great things about them."
Perry, who retired after the 2000 season with New Orleans, never played against his former team. He faced the Steelers twice as safeties coach with Cincinnati in 2002, calling the experience "a little weird."
"The wife and the kids will be excited to get back," Perry said. "This will be a little bit different."
Perry, who said he and Greene have talked about the trip to Pittsburgh but "not as much as you would have thought," admitted that he had put "a little asterisk" on the schedule when he saw the Packers were going to Pittsburgh in Week 15.
After his one season in Cincinnati, Perry returned to Pittsburgh as defensive backs coach from 2003 through 2006. He played in Super Bowl XXX in Arizona, a 27-17 loss to Dallas, and coached in Super Bowl XL in Detroit, a 21-10 win over Seattle. Those rank as his top two memories in the Steel City.
"The first one, when we lost to Dallas, we had a great team," Perry said. "We had some outstanding players and coaches and outstanding defenses, and just good people. Winning that Super Bowl, we had a fantastic staff and outstanding players. Those memories will last a lifetime. A lot of fun, a lot of fun."
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.