About Three Bricks Shy

About Three Bricks Shy: And The Load Filled Up

ROY BLOUNT
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155jnc8
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  • Book Info
    About Three Bricks Shy
    Book Description:

    Thirtieth Anniversary EditionAny number of writers could spend an entire season with an NFL team, from the first day of training camp until the last pick of the draft, and come up with an interesting book. But only Roy Blount Jr. could capture the pain, the joy, the fears, the humor-in short, the heart-of a championship team.In 1973, the Pittsburgh Steelers were super, but missed the bowl. Blount's portrait of a team poised to dominate the NFL for more than a decade recounts the gridiron accomplishments and off-the-field lives of players, coaches, wives, fans, and owners.About Three Bricks Shy . . .is considered a classic;Sports Illustratedrecently named it one of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time. This thirtieth-anniversary edition includes additional chapters on the Steelers' Super Bowl wins, written for the 1989 paperback, as well as a new introduction by the author.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7968-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Franco Harris, who hated getting hit, told me something once, about running with the ball, that I didn’t get down in my notes. It was something to this effect: as much as he wanted to comprehend the whole problem of a long run, to anticipate the whole open-field maze and to improvise a continuous mind-body flow of cuts and angles that could only end in the end zone….

    Essentially what he said was, you can see too many possible tacklers. Not so much because you’re anxious, hearing footsteps in that sense, as because you’re trying for too ingenious a solution...

  4. INTRODUCTION TO THE 1989 EDITION
    (pp. xv-xvi)

    In 1973 I had the great fortune (except that this was back before sports books started making people rich) to spend a season amidst the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I wrote a book. Andthenthey became the greatest football team of all time. (That is whatSports Illustrated’s pro football maven, Paul Zimmerman, recently called the ’74 and ’75 Steelers, and since that is what he said, I agree with him.)

    Even though the Steelers waited until after my residency to win four Super Bowls in six years, I did not hold this against them. I kept coming back. The...

  5. ABOUT THREE BRICKS SHY
    • 1 ABOUT THE TITLE
      (pp. 3-5)

      Pro football players are adults who fly through the air in plastic hats and smash each other for a living. I now know a bunch of them, and I think they are good folks. They are made up, loosely speaking, of rickety knees, indoctrination, upward mobility, pain tolerance, public fantasies, meanness, high spirits, brightly colored uniforms, fear, techniques, love of games, Nutrament (a diet supplement used., sometimes with steroid drugs, for “bulking up”), corporate kinesthesia, God-given quickness, and heart. Sober, one of them told me, “What it boils down to is, sacrifice your body with a picture in your mind.”...

    • 2 A LITTLE BACKGROUND
      (pp. 6-11)

      One day late in December 1972, Andre Laguerre, then managing editor ofSports Illustrated, summoned me, one of the staff writers, and said he wanted somebody to live with a pro football team for a season and write a book about it.

      Well. I was thirty-one years old and just divorced, so I was at suitably loose ends, but otherwise I wasn't sure about the idea. I came into sportswriting unexpectedly from a newspaper job in which I made fun of, and occasionally deigned to talk to, politicians. I was the natural man, the politicians were the connivers. I was...

    • 3 WHY PITTSBURGH
      (pp. 12-21)

      A good many of my colleagues could not understand why I chose Pittsburgh of all the places in the NFL. Members of theSports Illustratedstaff are always tearing off to exotic places. I remember photographer Jerry Cooke pulling up in front of me in a taxi outside the Time and Life Building one evening. He noticed I was standing there with a suitcase.

      “Where areyougoing?” he asked.

      “Pittsburgh,” I said.

      There was a pause.

      “Where are you going?” I said.

      “China,” he said, and then he rode away.

      Well, I had never covered the Steelers but I...

    • 4 NAMES
      (pp. 22-43)

      Judging from the roster, none of the Steelers had what you could call a really great name. No such name, that is, as Fair Hooker of Cleveland or Jubilee Dunbar of the 49ers or Coy Bacon (Coy Bacon! How about Arch Spareribs!) of San Diego, or Tyrone Daisy and Drane Scrivener, rookies in camp with the Cowboys, or Dallas veteran Jethro Pugh, who named his daughter Jethrolyn Jo; or Ivan Cahoon of Gonzaga, who played tackle for the Packers from 1926 to 1929; or Wesley Leaper, who played end for the Packers in 1921 and 1923; or Veryl Switzer, a...

    • 5 FIRST DIP INTO THE SCENE
      (pp. 44-51)

      I made a preliminary visit to Pittsburgh in the middle of June, to get an apartment high atop Mount Washington, in a building whose top-floor restaurant, Christopher’s, afforded the city’s best view of the Golden Triangle, and to check out the rookies’ orientation week.

      In the past the Steelers had worked with their rookies in training camp for a week before the veterans arrived, but this year they weren’t thinking much in terms of new blood. They were just bringing the new crop in to appraise them briefly in the flesh, to check their times in the 40-yard dash, and...

    • 6 TRAINING CAMP
      (pp. 52-84)

      Training camp was from July 16 to August 24 at a small Catholic seminary, St. Vincent’s College, thirty or forty miles east of Pittsburgh near Latrobe. It was in Latrobe that the first game between teams made up entirely of paid players ($10 each) was played in 1895. The country is pretty, green, rolling. Within a couple of miles from St. Vincent’s you can buy red, lush, tangy “Vine-Riped Tomatoes” from a roadside stand, or “Refrigerated Eggs” from a man named Clair L. Frye’s egg-vending machine on the side of the highway in front of his farm. Nearby towns include...

    • 7 MOOSIE AND THE OLD RANGER
      (pp. 85-95)

      Mansfield and Van Dyke were indeed humorous company, but they didn’t see football as any kind of joke. “Well, Bruce and I laughed our ass off about this,” Ray said, when I asked them for a funny game story. “We were playing the Baltimore Colts. We were backed up to the 1-foot line, it’s cold, we were losing bad, we wanted to get the game over. They’re booing us, throwing snowballs at us, at home. Guys were ducking snowballs in the huddle. Well, in those days we had girls called the Steelerettes doing dances and shit behind the end zone....

    • 8 CONTACT
      (pp. 96-104)

      The reflections of Moosie and Old Ranger have led us directly into an essential subject, of which eye contact is only an interesting sidelight. At the heart of every sport except pure races is some form of hitting, of solid connection—the merging for a fruity instant of good wood and fat pitch, a firm forehand’s flowing thunk, the shwunk of a round leather ball through stretchy cords. (“Shooting and hitting is a sensation unlike any other.”—Bill Bradley.) “Only connect…” “Right on the button.” Two hard things meeting in a moment of give.

      Football, especially. “That battle of the...

    • 9 THE EXHIBITION SEASON
      (pp. 105-114)

      The afternoon of the first exhibition game, against Baltimore in Three Rivers, I ran into the Chief and his son Tim in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Hilton as they were meeting Cardinal Cooke. You were likely to meet anybody, from Horse Czarnecki, the groundkeeper at Pitt, to Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, with Art Rooney. He had earlier introduced me to two noted old-time Pittsburgh fighters: Billy Conn, who told about a time when he was visiting a rich woman in Florida, and she complained that the coons were stealing and eating from her fruit trees, and he said,...

    • 10 NOLL
      (pp. 115-128)

      “There is no way you can have a beer with Noll and relax,” more than one Steeler person said. I was finding that true one Saturday night early in the season, having a Heineken’s with him in the lounge of the Sheraton Inn south of town, where the Steelers ate hamburgers and slept the night before every home game—“so they won’t be bothered by two o’clock feedings,” said Noll. A thirtyish diminutive fan whose tie was hanging outside his buttoned sport coat came up, wobbled slightly, beamed, and said, “We love ya, Coach. By God, ya just don’t know...

    • 11 BEATING THE LIONS, THE BROWNS AND THE OILERS
      (pp. 129-131)

      The Steelers opened their regular season by beating the Lions 24–10. The defense stopped Detroit on the ground, made Greg Landry pass, and Pine Edwards and Supe Blount each made crucial interceptions—typically the big defensive play was the saver. And this time the offense showed some sustain, as they say. “We don’t one-two and then bingo,” said Bradshaw. “We boonk, boonk, boonk and then TD.” The age of Detroit middle linebacker Mike Lucci was a big help—Lucci was slow, in his last year as a pro, and the Steeler offensive line pushed him around. Frustrated, he kicked...

    • 12 THE PREMISES
      (pp. 132-144)

      Before Three Rivers was built the Steelers played at Forbes Field or Pitt Stadium and their offices were in the Fort Pitt Hotel. For many years they were on the ground floor, and people would enter or leave by stepping through the window. All sorts of sporting and charitable activities were organized there, from prizefights to funerals for Irish paupers. For the latter, the Chief would send out his sons as pallbearers. Newspapermen, old ballplayers, pugs, horseplayers, people looking for a few bucks to tide them over, and politicos loafed there. When the operation expanded and the Chief and Fran...

    • 13 STEELERS AWAY FROM WORK
      (pp. 145-154)

      Whenever friends of mine would visit me in Pittsburgh, some of them women for whom football had no charms, they would come away surprised at how easy and friendly the Steelers and their wives were. “What nice people,” my friends would say.

      Nice people,” I would say. “I introduce you to gladiators and their women and you say they’re nice people? You could have met nice people back home.” But they were, nice people. A Steeler wife of the not-too-distant past had been known to go into the bathroom at parties—not at big parties, but at small gatherings including...

    • 14 GOOD-BYE, JOHNNY U.
      (pp. 155-159)

      The San Diego game was not a love story, although the Steelers won it, 38 (their highest point total of the year, about three points shy of 41) to 21. It was Pittsburgh native Johnny Unitas’s last game as a starter, most likely, and he was terrible in it.

      Unitas played for a small Catholic high school in Mount Washington, St. Justin’s, and as a junior quarterba~k he beat out Dan Rooney for the city all-Catholic team. “I don’t know how he did it,” said Dan. “I was a senior.

      Unitas weighed only around 130 pounds leaving high school, so...

    • 15 FANDOM
      (pp. 160-173)

      As Unitas was discounting sentiment, Steeler fans on their way out of the stadium were expressing feelings of letdown, and you couldn’t blame them. The first half had been too easy to be purgative and the second half had been a drag. Except for a 47-yard breakaway by Preston Pearson and a 21-yard burst by Bradshaw, the Steelers’ running attack had been bottled up all day. I asked one exiting fan why he was complaining so, when after all the Steelers were still unbeaten. He thought a minute. “Put it this way,” he said. “Last year they were a team...

    • 16 THE BENGALS, THE JETS AND THE BENGALS
      (pp. 174-183)

      After all that grumbling about conservative football let me say that the Steelers didn’t play it. The offensive was supposed to, but it managed to be wayward. After the San Diego game I asked Ham how come his friend Wagner had scored before he had in ’73. “I’ve given up that aspect of the game,” said Ham airily. In Cincinnati it appeared that the Steeler offense had too.

      Most teams are right-handed but the Steelers were left-handed. That is, teams generally line up with their tight end to the right, a strong-right formation, and run more often to that side....

    • 17 TERRY AND TERRY AND JOE
      (pp. 184-191)

      The Steelers as a matter of fact considered signing such a former pro quarterback as Mike Taliaffero or Kent Nix, and they might well have activated Parilli if a league rule had not prevented it; and Rocky Bleier was trained as the emergency snap-taker in case a noquarterback situation arose (though Mansfield maintained he was the logical choice for the job; he knew all the plays and also how to take a snap, since he and Clack practiced their snaps on each other). But when the story came out that the Steelers might acquire Unitas from the Chargers (which wasn’t...

    • 18 THE CHIEF AND FAMILY
      (pp. 192-203)

      “Take a gas mask,” said Noll, who hated cigar smoke.

      “Take ten dollars,” said Uncle Jim, who knew we were going to play the horses. “No more.”

      “You better take a can to pee in,” said Richie Easton.

      Richie, a chunky sanguine Syrian who drove a newspaper truck for a living and drove the Chief in his Imperial for recreation, and was one of the Chief's closest friends, was thinking of the Chief’s disinclination to stop, for any reason, once he got rolling on the open road. The Chief, Richie and I were on a four-day trip to Liberty Bell...

    • 19 BURNING OUT THE REDSKINS
      (pp. 204-207)

      Before the Redskin game, which was a Monday night TV game, Bobby Layne was in the Three Rivers press lounge with two friends from Texas, a big black man named W. W. and a white dwarf named Rooster. It was the same Bobby Layne of whose greatness at moving the Steelers in closing moments Baldy Regan had said, “He could make two minutes seem like an eternity.”

      I don’t think it would be unreasonable to report that Layne and W. W. and Rooster had been doing some drinking. Layne said W. W. used to be a great high school running...

    • 20 RACE
      (pp. 208-212)

      “I never judge a person on the color of his skin,” said Bradshaw. “I have a black man working for me who doesn’t have any fingers. But I hire him, ’cause I trust him. Black kids come over and throw the football with me. To me, the color issue’s not an issue at all. There’s an old saying, you’re sitting under a skunk but can’t smell him; maybe that's the way it is. But I don’t see it.”

      “Ralph!” exclaimed Dwight White one day in the training room, when Berlin betrayed an ignorance of a WAMO (the local soul station...

    • 21 MAD DOG
      (pp. 213-215)

      Dwight White was into letting things happen. As a rusher he was headstrong, in spite of the way he knocked out or broke several teeth in college: “The quarterback was scrambling so I was after the cat. He goes like he’s bracing for the blow. But this eat’s like a coward—he crumples to miss the lick. I dive, he goes on the ground, and I keep right on going over his head. I’d just got a new helmet and it was half on and half off. I went right into the ground with my mouth.”

      As an announcer of...

    • 22 OAKLAND AND DENVER
      (pp. 216-218)

      Football language is very sexual. Rushes are said to “put their ears back and come”; before a game someone may walk around the dressing room crying, “Get it up! Get it up! Get it up!” Against the Oakland Raiders in game 8 the Steeler Front Four got it way up and came and came. Clever Ken Stabler was knocked out of the game early by L. C. (“Attaway Bags, fuck him up!” a Steeler cried on the sidelines), and Stabler’s replacement at quarterback, Daryle Lamonica, liked to drop back and throw the long one, which made him the Front Four’s...

    • 23 THE BODY
      (pp. 219-223)

      I got to talking to one of the Steelers about the people—press, executives, attendants, hangers-on—around the team. The player pointed out that these people were skinny, bulbous, stooped, listing or minuscule, nearly everyone of them. “It’s the most cataclysmic collection of fucked-up bodies I ever saw,” the player said. I had been pretty much discounting the bodies of all these people and dealing with what they had to say. I was brought to realize how much more a player, whose professional medium is largely body, must relate to people in bodily terms.

      Few of the Steelers looked ogreish...

    • 24 SCOUTING
      (pp. 224-226)

      I liked scouts. They had not too much officiousness and a lot of stories. For instance, about the 40-yard dash: the Cowboys once mistakenly timed a prospect in the 35, and drafted him second, he seemed so fast; 40er scout Joe Perry wangled his son, who had one eye, a tryout and then beat him in the 40 in camp, breaking his confidence (“aybe I shouldn't have done that,” Perry said); a scout once timed a prospect over 40 yards down an airport corridor; a scout once reported a prospect’s time as “4.9, but he had one leg in a...

    • 25 LOOSING TWO BARELY
      (pp. 227-230)

      The Steelers had not won in Cleveland since 1964. This would have seemed to be the year to do it, they had beaten the Browns so badly in Pittsburg a few weeks before, but Cleveland coach Nick Skorich was quoted as saying, “We’re not intimidated by the Steelers anymore.”

      How did Sam Davis feel about Skorich’s statement? “Can’t listen to that stuff,” he said. “If you get too psyched up, you can’t do shit. It’s like getting so mad in an argument you can’t convince the other guy. If you don’t get psyched up at all you can’t do shit....

    • 26 FRANCO, FRENCHY AND PRESTON: DANCING AND BLOWING
      (pp. 231-233)

      During the doldrums of the regular season’s last couple of weeks, as Cleveland won the division title and the Steelers settled for a wild-card playoffbt;rth, a special players-only meeting was called to get everybody on the right track. The only jarring note was struck by Preston Pearson, who said, “You guys got to get meaner. I don’t mean this personally, Sam,” he said to Davis, “but I know you’re not mean enough.” He also said Franco was going to have to stop dancing.

      Now Bill Nunn will tell you, “That’s a good touch on a kid, if you can see...

    • 27 MEAN JOE
      (pp. 234-236)

      The Steelers made the playoffs by beating the Oilers 33–7 and the 49ers 37–14, in two ragged games. In the Houston game, at home, Ron Shanklin had a man land on the back of his neck and “when I tried to get up, nothing happened. I thought I was pushing off the ground with my hands, but when I looked around I discovered I was still lying on the ground and my arm was back behind my head. I couldn’t tell where my arms were or my legs were until I looked at them.” He began to get...

    • 28 MONEY, AND SUPE
      (pp. 237-240)

      “0ur problem,” said Players’ Association exec Ed Garvey in considering why the public tends to have little sympathy with players’ bargaining demands, “starts with the word ‘player.’ ” Most of the Steelers agreed more or less with Mel Blount: “Football is all work. You wouldn’t play football if you could do somepn’-rother else and make some money. ’Cause every time you get on the field you put your health in danger.” The players have just a few years to make football money and if I had to take sides between them and the owners it would not be with the...

    • 29 HANDS
      (pp. 241-251)

      One afternoon during practice I was watching the linemen pound away at each other, wump, clack. Van Dyke paused to say, “What are you doing?”

      “Trying to get a feel for this,” I said.

      “If you really want to get a feel for it you should put on some pads and get out here and get blocked,” he said.

      I answered him in much the same terms Groucho Marx uses in the role of an attorney inA Day at the Races, when Eve Arden, in the role of an acrobat, asks him to put on her suction-cup shoes and...

    • 30 THE PLAYOV
      (pp. 252-258)

      As I was getting some faint measure of feel for the game, the Steelers were losing theirs: it is hard to be intense in Palm Springs.

      Some interesting things did happen there. The Chief used the term “bikinkies”—as in bikinky bathing suits; Joe Greene ate hot sauce until, according to some observers, steam rose from his head; a Steeler got a free massage at a local parlor by telling his masseuse she was under arrest; Van Dyke exemplified cold-blooded football humor by saying companionably to Walden, who’d been having a highly uneven season punting and was getting up in...

  6. …AND THE LOAD FILLED UP
    • 1 SUPERBOWL, 1975: “YOU’RE A PART OF ALL THIS”
      (pp. 261-272)

      I backed off, took a little run and butted Mean Joe Greene right in the numbers. Really. I had sneaked down onto the Steelers’ sideline during the last two minutes of their Super Bowl victory, which I felt a part of. I had spent the whole 1973 season hanging around with the Steelers, to write a book calledAbout Three Bricks Shy of a Load… The Year the Pittsburgh Steelers Were Super but Missed the Bowl. Now, with the clock ticking down, the Steelers were about to consign my title to ancient history. I had more or less taken the...

    • 2 SUPER BOWL, 1975, P.S.
      (pp. 273-274)

      Before the opening kickoff, Pittsburgh’s starting defense and Minnesota’s starting offense lined up along the same corridor under the stands waiting to be introduced to 80 million people. But Edwards lined up with the Viking offense! Had he defected? Taken leave of his senses? No. He had stepped over to chat with a Viking he’d known in college. Who would not acknowledge his presence. The Vikings had apparently been instructed to remain silent. None of them would utter a syllable to the bouncy, scrubby Steeler who had infiltrated their file.

      “What’s wrong with you guys!” demanded Edwards, looking them all...

    • 3 JOE GREENE: “HE DOES WHAT HE WANTS OUT THERE”
      (pp. 275-286)

      “I am not a dirty player,” says Charles Edward (Mean Joe) Greene. “I have at certain times had violent urges, but I don’t think I ever have hurt anybody. Tried to a couple times, but I don’t think I have. Yeah, guess I have. In high school. I was dirty then. Kick ’em.

      “I do play football no-holds-barred. Any edge I can get, I’ll take. I’d grab a face mask only in a fit of anger. Uncontrolled anger is damn near insane.”

      Greene once shattered three or four of Cleveland Guard Bob DeMarco’s teeth, and they were big teeth way...

    • 4 RAY MANSFIELD: HOW TO RAISE YOUR BOY TO PLAY PRO BALL
      (pp. 287-290)

      Since I have done a good deal of work in the sportswriting field, people ask me, “Where did you get that unusual tan?” (I go to a nearby tannery every spring, layout twenty-eight dollars and a little something for the attendant, and have myself dipped.) “What is the right grip for squash?” (Grasp the squash firmly by the neck with your left hand, then take a knife with the right hand and bring it down in short, crisp strokes on the part of the squash not covered by the left hand.) But most of all they ask me, “How do...

    • 5 SUPER BOWL, 1976: “YOU CAN’T COVER IT”
      (pp. 291-296)

      I don’t know who he was or what outfit he represented, but the man in the maroon pants in the Konover Hotel on Miami Beach last Super Sunday morning said it for us all. His eyes were slits or wished they were, his moustache looked as if he had passed out on it wrong, and his sport coat was sort of bent out of whack. He was carrying from the media buffet table a plate full of eggs, sausages, toast, marmalade and cantaloupe, along with a glass of tomato juice, his commemorative Naugahyde briefcase and a handful of press releases....

    • 6 SUPER BOWL, 1976, P.S.
      (pp. 297-298)

      Baseball’s Oakland A’s have proved that intrasquad squabbling needn’t hold a team back. But harmony is a nice championship virtue too. During Super Week ’76 a TV crew was at the Steeler hotel filming interviews with the Steelers’ celebrated Front Four—Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. Suddenly Steeler reserve Reggie Harrison hollered across the pool to the TV people, “Why don’t you talk to theMVPof the Front Four? And he pointed to Steve Furness, who had played outstandingly in relief of the injured Greene and hadn’t gotten much credit for it. Harrison’s remark...

    • 7 THE SHORT, HAPPY LIFE OF JOE GILLIAM
      (pp. 299-305)

      Billy Dee Williams inThe Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars #& Motor Kings, the movie about preintegration baseball, reminds me of Joe Gilliam: skinny, springy, with a lot offrustrated zest in him. But that movie was too trivial and soft to show the way frustrated zest marks you. Joe Gilliam’s looks are more bothersome than Billy Dee Williams’s. Gilliam is a gaunt twenty-five-year-old.

      After practice sometimes you used to see Gilliam hanging silently by his hands from a goalpost crossbar, his minimal body forming a Y in the air, nobody paying him any mind. He looked sort of ethereal up there,...

    • 8 HOLDING OUT WITH BLOUNT
      (pp. 306-310)

      It has been established earlier in this book that Mel Blount was wrong when he said to me in 1973, “Your greatgrandfather probably owned my great-grandfather.” (“No,” my father assured me, “your great-grandfather didn’t own Mel’s great-grandaddy, because your great-grandaddy didn’t own anything.”) But as a football player, Mel himself was owned by the Steelers. When training camp opened in 1977, however, he was withholding his services. And demanding to be traded. And suing Steeler head coach Chuck Noll for $5 million.

      The suit alleged slander. Last year Noll accused Oakland Raider defensive back George Atkinson of being part of...

    • 9 SWANN’S WAY
      (pp. 311-313)

      I keep watching for some really new departure on a football field. Say a referee were to intercept a pass. There he goes, streaking downfield: no one is sure whether to tackle him. Now we know there is something funny about the officiating.

      In the meantime I enjoy watching Lynn Swann dance with the ball.

      Whenever I see Swann hang and twist inimitably in the air to snatch a pass away from glowering, jealous defenders, I think of W. C. Fields stomping away from a Charlie Chaplin movie, growling, “The son of a bitch is a ballet dancer.”

      Swann began...

    • 10 SUPER BOWL, 1979: SPOTS AND WATER AND ROCK
      (pp. 314-317)

      The Pittsburgh hotel was the Marriott, out by the airport. That’s where the Steelers were staying, and that’s where half the population of Pittsburgh was loafing. In other parts of the country you call it “hanging out.” In Pittsburgh you call it “loafing,” as in, “Oh, yeah, I used to loaf with that guy.” Around the pool at the Marriott was half the population of Pittsburgh, loafing and wearing shorts-wearing Steeler shirts, Steeler hats and, since there is no such thing as Steeler shorts, just plain shorts that they bought somewhere, when they got to Florida probably, because people in...

    • 11 SUPER BOWL 1980: STILL CAN’T COVER IT
      (pp. 318-322)

      Every year at this time, I go to the Super Bowl and fail to cover it. I might as well try to cover Christmas. Oh, I generally dig up some startling facts during Super Week. One year I learned that Ernie Holmes, the Steeler tackle, had bought his old high school. After hearing that it was closed down, he went back to Texas and bought it.

      High school is where I realized that I was never, myself, going to play in anything like the Super Bowl. I came to that realization after quitting eighth grade football the first day of...

    • 12 DWIGHT WHITE: MAD DOG RETIRED
      (pp. 323-326)

      It’s Sunday afternoon and almost everybody in the Pittsburgh area is watching the Steeler game. But Dwight White, who used to be a rabid Steeler, has it behind him. He hasn’t looked at the TV here on his patio since the first quarter, when he switched over toThe Wall Street Report. White is peering in the opposite direction, downhill from his backyard in the prosperous suburb of Ross Township, through the telescopic sight of the Winchester 30-06 rifle he says he keeps ready. The Steelers intercept a pass. White pulls the trigger. Click. “Don’t make me out to be...

    • 13 “FRANCO THINKS OUT EVERYTHING”
      (pp. 327-336)

      Franco Harris has, as they say, enormous presence. This is partly because he’s enormous, partly because he has the face of a sheikh or a Moorish prince or a young Old Testament prophet, and partly because he doesn’t seem to be entirely present. He looks almost as if he just woke up and isn’t sure whether he slept well enough or not and is determined to make up his own mind about it.

      “On a football field you don’t have time to stop and think,” says Harris’s former teammate Joe Greene. “But Franco thinks out everything. You watch Franco run,...

    • 14 BLOUNT IN GEORGIA
      (pp. 337-350)

      Hup! How often do we get to watch a black Georgia Steeler cowboy work? Mel Blount, the only such cowboy extant, is up on his cutting horse Straw King, and the two of them, in centaurial concert, are singling a calf out from the rest of a penned-up bunch.

      Calf tries a move to his left.Tharomble tharop, rrk, dirt flying, Blount and Straw King are there. Calf cuts back to his right. Tharomble tharop, rrk, clods in the air, Blount and Straw King are there. Calf can’t get open! Can’t run his pattern! It’s a bit like watching a...

  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 351-351)