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 »  Home  »  Sports  »  4 Croatians in Super Bowl XLVI 2012 Bill Belichick, Robert Ninkovich, David Diehl & Anthony Lucas
 »  Home  »  News  »  4 Croatians in Super Bowl XLVI 2012 Bill Belichick, Robert Ninkovich, David Diehl & Anthony Lucas
4 Croatians in Super Bowl XLVI 2012 Bill Belichick, Robert Ninkovich, David Diehl & Anthony Lucas
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  02/5/2012 | Sports , News | Unrated
Bill Belichick, David Diehl and Robert Ninkovich three Croatians competing in Super Bowl 2012 on the Lucas Oil Stadium named after the fourth Croatian

Photo from

I did not check the history of Super Bowls, but the fact that three Croatian Americans are playing today in a single game on the Lucas Oil Stadium named after the fourth Croatian is a day to celebrate. Belichick & Diehl Two Croatian-Americans face off at Super Bowl for the second time. First time was in 2008. Since they play for opposite teams, Croatians will cheer all the way to the end. Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots is 46th Super Bowl, the most watched show in America, could be the world. With a victory, Patriots coach Bill Belichick becomes the Greatest of All-Time. With the victory, Giants offensive guard David Diehl gets his second ring. Robert Ninkovich is playing for the Patriots The Lucas Oil Stadium is named after another Croatian-American Anthony Lucas b. Antun Lučić, considered as the father of petroleum engineering in the USA. I wonder if any of Croatian media except CROWN, will cover this story?

Nenad Bach

Bill Bellichick

Bill Bellichick

William Stephen "Bill" Belichick (born April 16, 1952) is an American football head coach for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. After spending his first 15 seasons in the league as an assistant coach, Belichick got his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1991. Of his five seasons coaching Cleveland, only one featured a winning record, and Belichick did not serve as head coach again until 2000 with the Patriots. Since then, Belichick has coached the Patriots to four Super Bowls; three victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX, and a loss in Super Bowl XLII. He was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year twice, for the 2003 and 2007 seasons. During the 2007 season, the Patriots became the first team ever to finish the regular season with a 16–0 record; however, that team lost in the Super Bowl.


Bill Bellichick

Belichick is a Croatian American. His father, Steve Belichick (born Stephen Biličić), played for the Detroit Lions and was an assistant coach and scout with the United States Naval Academy football team for 33 years. Bill reportedly learned to break down game films at a young age by watching his father and the Navy staff do their jobs.[31] His paternal grandparents Ivan Biličić and Marija (Mary) Barković emigrated from Karlovac, Croatia (from the village of Draganić) in 1897 and left for the USA, where they settled in Monessen near Pittsburgh.


With a Victory, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Becomes the Greatest of All Time

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has already stamped his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

By guiding his fifth team in the last 11 seasons to the big game and having already won three world championships, Belichick is in rare company as a coach.

Only Chuck Noll has more Super Bowl titles than Belichick, and with a victory over the New York Giants Sunday evening, the hooded one will tie the Steelers' legend at four Super Bowl victories apiece—the most in NFL history.

Belichick would have more rings than the NFL’s all-time leader in victories—Don Shula, the innovator of the West Coast offense and three-time super bowl champ, as well as Bill Walsh and the 250-win, five-Super-Bowl-appearance, fedora-wearing cowboy legend: Tom Landry.

In fact, the only coaches with more NFL titles than Belichick would be co-founder of the NFL, George "Papa Bear" Halas with six and the peerless Vince Lombardi with five.  For what it’s worth, all of Halas’s and three of Lombardi’s championships came pre-Super Bowl era.

What Belichick has been able to accomplish over the last 11 seasons is nothing short of remarkable.

Belichick has averaged 12 wins per season, amassing 134 regular season victories against only 42 total losses.  Belichick has led teams to nine division titles, five AFC championships and a 16-5 playoff record to date.

Consistency over an extended period of time is the hardest goal to accomplish in the NFL, and Belichick has made it look easy.

The 134-42 record over the last 11 seasons registers at an incredible .760 winning percentage.

Consider the fact that only one of the legends mentioned earlier even had a .700 winning percentage—that being Lombardi at .706. The others—Shula finished at  .677, Halas at .640, Walsh at .609, Landry at .606 and Knoll with a .566 winning percentage, respectively.

With free agency, me-first superstars, reality TV aspirations and incestuous agents all prevalent in today’s NFL, Belichick’s run may be more impressive than any coach in the history of the league.

What Belichick has done is truly develop a program, a team and a family at the NFL level. The Patriot way—as it is often described in the media, is the team-first mentality that Belichick has implemented to his coaches and players.

How Belichick achieves this feat is as impressive as his victory total.

Belichick caters to no one, even the superstar QB Tom Brady.

Additionally, Belichick has routinely brought in players that other NFL teams have given up on and turned them into productive assets. 

Furthermore, if a player doesn’t produce or put the team first, they usually find a pink slip in their locker sooner rather than later.

The embrace of this team concept is rare to see in professional athletics these days.

Contrary to what some observers may think, this success is not solely due to having superior talent—in fact, only seven current Patriots were on the roster when New England last made it to the Super bowl.

Obviously, Tom Brady has been the one constant on the roster from the first championship run to this present attempt to climb the mountain 11 years later.

Not only has Belichick overcame the roster upheaval during this amazing run, but also injuries.  When the face of the franchise—star QB Tom Brady—was lost for the season in game one a few seasons ago, Belichick still found a way to get his team to an 11-5 record.

Brady missed 15-and-a-half games that season, and they still won 11 games!

Jay Cutler was lost for the year when the Chicago Bears were 7-3 this past season, and they couldn’t even get to double digit victories.

Not only does Belichick navigate the tricky free agent waters and overcome injuries, he also uses his roster in unique ways.

This year, we have seen Belichick once again use a receiver in his multiple defensive-back packages.  The Patriots have employed both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defensive front the same way a basketball team jumps into and out of one-on-one and zone defenses.

And oh, those tight ends—one of his tight ends lead the team in receptions and receiving TD’s and another tight end has gotten carries out of the I-back position, in addition to his blocking and receiving duties.

Love him or hate him, Bill Belichick is a great football coach. With a victory Sunday, he becomes the greatest of all time.   


David Diehl

Giants' Diehl Remembers Chicago Roots

Offensive guard grew up on Chicago's south side

David Diehl may earn a living in New York, but he won't soon forget his roots. He wears them Under his sleeve.

"This is the Croatian shield, a Gerb," Diehl said Thursday while pulling up the sleeves of his New York Giants football jersey, revealing a tattoo on his left bicep.

"And this is a tattoo of Chief Illiniwek. That was my first tattoo ever," Diehl said while rolling up his right sleeve. "I stay true to my roots."

They're roots that started in a small town in Croatia and moved to 55th & Francisco where his father Jerry Diehl worked first as a milkman then as a beer vendor.

"At the old Comiskey Park, so I remember Ribby & Rhubarb all that stuff as a kid and going to games," he recalled with a smile as big as the Dan Ryan.

"Throughout all the years I saw my dad weather the long hours, came home late, he never complained."

Maybe that's why nine years into the NFL, despite making his second trip to the Super Bowl, he still goes to work each day like his first.

"The lessons that he taught me were when someone pays you to do something and somebody hires you to do a job, you go to work," he said.

He's south side Chicago through and through, except for one thing.

"I named my daughter Addison," he said, laughing about the north side street housing the Cubs. "But! I'm a south sider true to heart!"


David Diehl

David Diehl

His Croat origins are from his maternal grandparents. His grandfather, Ante Bekavac, emigrated to United States from Lovreć in Croatia, while his grandmother (born Semanić) is from Croatian islands. Thanks to his grandmother, Diehl was raised in Croatian spirit; he wanted to represent his Croatian descent through a tattoo of the Croatian coat of arms on his left arm.[4] Diehl stated that his favorite tattoo is his Croatian coat of arms. He visited Croatia in June and July 2011, in search for his roots.


David Diehl with two Croatian fans.

David Diehl in the city of Split 2011, Croatia, on the stadium of the soccer club "Hajduk". Photo by Ivo Čagalj.

David Diehl in Split 2011. Photo by Ivo Čagalj.

David Diehl announcing the 2012 Super Bowl with Hajduk's shawl. will be useful after the Super Bowl

Awaiting the Super Bowl in the city of Split, Croatia.

City of Split, one of the most beautiful cities on the Mediterranean. To have snow here is an extremely rare event.

David Diehl Super Bowl winner, pride of Croati and Croatians around the world

Diehl Helps Giants Dial Up Super Bowl Win

INDIANAPOLIS – They'll be dancing in the hallways at Brother Rice High School come Monday morning. Former Crusader David Diehl won his second Super Bowl title Sunday night with the New York Giants.

The lineman was part of a New York team that made NFL history as they charged down field on their final drive to beat the Patriots, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Unbelievable," Diehl said. "I mean, you look at this season and the way that we fought and stuck together. We accomplished something that nobody on the outside looking in thought we could do.  But the people in our room, the players on this team, our coaches, our organization - nobody said this could be done except for us and we believed in one another. Let everybody say what they want to say. The Giants are World Champs, baby.”

The crowd was eerily quiet as Eli Manning and the Giants took over for one last drive in the final four minutes.

Like he’s done countless times during the 2011 season, Manning made a series of precision passes – five to be exact, including a 38-yard out route to Mario Manningham that sparked the drive – and set New York up inside the 10-yard line. Ahmad Bradshaw finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to win the game.

Manning, who was 30-for-40 passing, threw for 296 yards and 1 touchdown, earning his second Super Bowl MVP award against the Patriots.

“We moved the ball down the field, and Eli [Manning] made some great plays,” said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. “[Mario] Manningham made a huge play to get us down there. We tried to take a little more time off the clock, but it didn’t work that way. Thank God it worked out.”

“It was a great game with two great teams,” Manning said. “We played to the very end. It was just a great effort on both sides. There were some big plays being made.”

The Giants led early, going up 2-0 on a safety at 6:08 in the first quarter. Justin Tuck pressured Tom Brady, who dropped back into his own end zone. Manning followed that with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz on their next possession to take a 9-0 lead at 5:28 of the first.

The Patriots eventually tacked on 17 points throughout the second and third quarters. Steven Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal in the second and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw touchdown passes of 4 and 12 yards to Danny Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez, respectively.

Lawrence Tynes edged the Giants back in position with field goals of 38 and 33 yards in the third quarter and the Patriots were held scoreless in the final 15 minutes.

“I’m excited to win a championship,” Manning said. “I’m excited for my teammates. There are a number of guys, this is their first one. There are some other ones who are getting their second and more, but I’m just excited for them.”

As for the Patriots, this is their second straight loss to the Giants in the Super Bowl, having lost in 2007 to New York as well.

“They obviously played well tonight,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “Very competitive football game, they just made a couple more plays then we did.  By the way our guys played, fought, fought all year, fought tonight, and we had our chances. We just couldn’t quite make enough plays.  Giants made a few more than we did.”

Asked if this is what it felt like during their last loss to the Giants, Brady didn't disagree.

“We just didn’t make enough plays," he said. "In the first quarter, we didn’t have the ball a ton. The second quarter, we played a little bit better. Third quarter, we started well and it came down to the fourth quarter. [The Giants] made some plays there at the end. We went out there to win the game. We just didn’t make enough plays.”


Rob Ninkovich - Iron, man

For Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, the family business was - and to some extent still is - iron. On both sides of his family, the men are as proud of their membership in Local 1, Ironworkers of Chicago, as they are of their rich Croatian heritage, and the output of their labor can be seen all across the city. Point to a skyscraper here, or a bridge there, and there's a decent chance one of Rob Ninkovich's relatives helped build it.

His father, Mike Ninkovich, was raised to be an iron worker. So, too, was his grandfather on his mother's side, John Bukovac. Two of his cousins, Steve and Scott Starcevich, are iron workers. A great uncle, Vince Sicich, was killed while working on a bridge down in Peoria.


The Lucas Oil Stadium named after Anthony Lucas b. Antun Lučić in Split, Croatia,
who is considered as the father of petroleum engineering in the USA

The Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis named after Anthony Lucas b. Antun Lučić in Split, Croatia
Many thanks to Mr. Slavko Kapsa for this information.

The Lucas gusher in Spindletop, Texas 1901:
On This Spot on the Tenth Day of the Twentieth Century a New Era in Civilization Began

Anthony F. Lucas - Antun Lučić 1855-1926, born in the city of Split in Croatia,
the father of petroleum engineering

The Lucas Gusher 1901, source of the photo The portal to Texas history.
This is one of the most important events in the history of the petroleum industry

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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  • Comment #1 (Posted by slavko kapsa )

    Dear Nenad, Go to Wikipedia, type in Anthony Francis Lucas. You will find another Croatian whose name is also connected to the superbowl experience of 2012. The Lucas Stadium is also Croatian in name as result of the "Spindeltop Oil" in Texas.
  • Comment #2 (Posted by an unknown user)

    I want Dave Diehl to go on the Who Do You Think You Are TV show. I want to learn about his family roots. Diehi is different kind of name. Is he Croation and German too?
    I also want more people to learn more about Croatia. I think it would be so interesting.
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