Growing up with Steve Mariucci
By Mike Counter (Office of Communications)
If you could spend an hour with Steve Mariucci, you’d walk away feeling you’d made a new friend. The NFL Network announcer has a magnetic personality and, simply put, Steve is real—even in the midst of a career which has taken him from quarterbacks coach with the Green Bay Packers to head coaching jobs with the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions.
He was on campus recently to tape an interview for the College’s television show. I help produce “Conversations from St. Norbert College” and it’s always fun working with the guests, but this occasion was a little different. I’ve known Steve—Mooch—since high school.
When I heard he was coming to town as part of the NFL Network team to work the Dec. 21 Packers/Vikings game, I just had to ask him if he would take part in the show. He agreed, and his interview is airing this month.
In conversation with
Michael Marsden (Academic Affairs), Steve talks about life in the NFL, before, during and after football. I hope you can view the show where you live. If not, this story will give you an idea of what Mooch is all about as a person.
I was raised in Aurora, Wis., a small town up north that borders Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A stone’s throw away is Iron Mountain, Mich., where Steve Mariucci earned his stripes.
I got to know Steve back in the 1970s through his sister, Sandy, who was a friend of mine. Steve was attending Northern Michigan University and playing college football at the time. He led the Wildcats to a Division II National Championship in 1975 as their starting quarterback.
Even though I was younger than Mooch, we connected, and I could tell back then he was destined for big things. He had such an incredible drive and work ethic. Steve and his childhood friend Tom Izzo, who is also from Iron Mountain, used to spend the summer months running the steps leading to Giant Pine Mountain, the world’s largest man-made ski jump, to get in shape for their sports seasons. They knew what they wanted and went after it, Steve in football and Tom in basketball. (Tom is now the head basketball coach at Michigan State University.)
Steve and I maintained our friendship through the years. We’d talk on the phone or drop notes and cards in the mail. We had something in common. Steve was a football coach and I was a sports broadcaster.
Our paths came together again in 1993 when Steve was quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers and I was a sports anchor/reporter at WBAY-TV in Green Bay. We had a blast the few years he was in Titletown. In fact, his recommendation helped get me the job at WBAY. Steve introduced me to a young Brett Favre, and told me, “Just watch how good this kid’s going to be.” Funny thing was, Favre was telling me the same thing about Mooch.
As it turned out, they were both right. Steve went on to be head coach at the University of California-Berkley and then embarked on his NFL coaching career. He is currently an analyst for the NFL Network. If he wants to, he’ll be a head coach again in the near future. We all know Favre has punched his ticket into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The two have remained great friends.
The thing that impresses me most about Steve Mariucci in light of all his success is that he hasn’t lost his values. Despite the rigors of coaching, he puts his family first. Steve is very much the same person I admired 30 years ago. Money and fame haven’t changed him. In fact, he and Izzo have gone back home to Iron Mountain every summer for the past nine years to hold a charity golf outing that benefits their local school and other charities in the area. They have given back a great deal of money and time to their local community.
We still talk every month or so and it’s rarely about what he’s doing. He always asks me about my job at St. Norbert College. He always asks if I still enjoy my work here, and how my family is doing. I feel Steve is at peace with who he is as a person and that’s why he has no problem putting others first. Rare in this day and age.
When our chat ends, without fail, I let him know what he means to me. I’ll end the conversation by saying, “Steve, I’m proud of you, man.”
Mike Counter is senior media production specialist at St. Norbert College. He spent 23 years in the broadcasting business before joining the College.
"Conversations from St. Norbert College" is broadcast every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. New shows appear the first Thursday of each month. The series airs on Time Warner Cable Television channel 4 in Green Bay, Howard/Suamico and Seymour; channel 4 in the Fox Cities; channel 2 in Neenah/Menasha; channel 5 in De Pere, Ashwaubenon and Bellevue; and on NET cable channel 46 in Pulaski.
The show may also be seen on Wisconsin on Demand (WIoD), Time Warner Cable's local video on demand channel 1111, listed under your community, then St. Norbert College. It is all local, all the time and available free to Time Warner Cable's digital cable customers in 70 communities in northeast Wisconsin.
“Conversations from St. Norbert College” is also airing in Milwaukee, Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
If you would like to purchase a copy of the television show, contact Mike Counter at