NEW YORK -- It is the story of their lives. One man is remembered in rich detail, with perfect hair, schoolboy exuberance and an effervescent personality; the other man they truly didn't know. There is a frame carrying two photos next to the register at The Salon in Ames, Iowa. The shop's owner, Frank Randall, proudly hung it so customers would know that John Fox and Pete Carroll, opposing coaches in Sunday's Super Bowl, were once assistants at Iowa State.
Carroll's picture is from 1978, but, like Dick Clark, his face doesn't really change. Fox, wearing what appears to be a Members Only jacket, is the guy on the left.
"Probably the thing I remember the most was the difference in their personalities," says Randall, a retired ISU trainer who worked with Carroll, then Fox six years later in 1984. "Pete was high energy, boom, boom, boom, go, go, go. John was very quiet, very direct, very knowledgeable. No B.S., you know?
"I can remember the first time I told my wife, 'You know what? John Fox used to coach here.' She didn't remember him."
The football world seemingly knows everything about Carroll and nothing about Fox. Much of that is by design. Fox is a disciple of former Steelers coach Chuck Noll, a close-to-the-vest man who used to have a saying about treating the media like mushrooms. You keep them in the dark, Noll said, and feed them manure.
Fox's voice is perpetually hoarse, as if he's just woken up in a room full of smoke. He will not win you over with his hipness, or his friendships with Will Ferrell or Macklemore. It is unknown whether Fox even knows what a Macklemore is. He seems older than Carroll, but is actually four years younger. He is the master of diversion. He'll say something witty, just to make you forget the question he never planned on answering.
Carroll speaks with the smoothness of a yoga instructor. He'll say whatever he wants.
"They're equally fun to play for," says Broncos offensive tackle Winston Justice, who had Carroll as his college coach at USC. "Their differences aren't bad or good. They're just two different people."
Because they're part of such a unique fraternity, Fox and Carroll are bound to have similar experiences. They both got their starts coaching defensive backs, and both spent time in New York as defensive coordinators. Both went through 13 coaching jobs before finding their perfect fits that led them to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Deep down, when you listen to their stories, they're not so different at all.
PETE CARROLL HAS A PERSONAL ASSISTANT WHO USED TO BE A REPORTER
At 11 p.m. Sunday night, Ben Malcolmson was at a Wal-Mart in Secaucus, N.J., searching for a basketball hoop. There are many things Malcolmson thought he'd one day be doing with his life when he was slogging away for the student newspaper at USC about eight years ago. Shopping for a basketball hoop so that an NFL team could loosen up before the Super Bowl wasn't one of them.
But that's what happens when you meet Carroll. His energy -- his positivity -- sucks you in.