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Elvis
05-08-2008, 02:54 PM
In the '70s, new coach, great drafts turned Pittsburgh into City of Champions

Sunday, October 07, 2007
By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette With the right to the first overall choice in the 1970 draft riding on a coin flip, Dan Rooney deferred to Chicago's Ed McCaskey to make the call while NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle readied his thumb beneath a 1921 silver dollar.
The Bears called heads. The coin spun about a foot in the air and thunked down on a table in a New Orleans hotel. Lady Liberty's image was face down. The eagle side was up. The Steelers had won the toss between the two worst teams in football.
So hardened to losing was the city that the Post-Gazette headline to the top story in the sports section was: "Honest to Goodness -- Steelers Win."
In hindsight, winning the toss was an omen. By the end of the decade, the headlines spoke of triumph after triumph. The team with the NFL's all-time inferiority complex developed a sterling silver swagger. And a city once described as hell with the lid taken off turned into the City of Champions.
Alchemy should work so well.
The franchise that had seen such quarterbacks as Sid Luckman, Johnny Unitas, Len Dawson and Bill Nelsen get away used the first pick to select Terry Bradshaw, a rifle-armed, fleet-of-foot bundle of raw energy who endured a rocky start to become an integral part of the glory days.
A new wind was blowing other ways as well. The Steelers moved into Three Rivers Stadium, and a scratchy-voiced showman named Myron Cope, with his impeccable sense of timing, joined the broadcast team.
"If that stadium had never been built, we'd never have won," Steelers founder Art Rooney once said. "We had second-class facilities in the old days, and we were a second-class team. We went to being a first-class club."
Only a handful of veterans made the transition from old Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium to the new multi-purpose facility and a new start in the American Football Conference, but they noticed a new attitude in the new players coming aboard.
"I don't think they know about the old losing image. They didn't know the Steelers are supposed to lose," lineman Ray Mansfield said at the time. "When I first came to Pittsburgh, even if we won a few games, there was always an expectation of doom."
Still, the bandwagon had plenty of room as the climb started.
Oh, those draft picks

For an outfit notorious for botching the draft, the Steelers set a standard that was the envy of the NFL. Chuck Noll believed in molding young talent by building through the draft. Art Rooney Jr., son of the founder, was in charge of personnel with super scout Dick Haley,
Joe Greene was already on board, and Mel Blount arrived in the Bradshaw draft. Jack Ham was added in 1971. The coach preferred Robert Newhouse as a running back in 1972, but the scouts sold him on Franco Harris. Then came the mother lode in 1974 -- Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster before the fifth round was over. There was no other draft like it before or since.
But in addition to all those future Hall of Famers, the Steelers scored big in lower rounds, especially with players from traditionally black schools. Credit went to a new talent evaluator, Bill Nunn Sr., who as sports editor of The Pittsburgh Courier had named an annual All-Star team of players from black schools.
He recommended draft choices and free agents such as L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Joe Gilliam and Donnie Shell.
By the end of the decade, not a single player on the Super Bowl roster had ever worn another team's uniform. They were all home-grown. A total of 22 players were measured for all four Super Bowl rings.
In a sporting sort of way, Steelers history has a biblical quality. The first 40 years of wandering through the wilderness is the football version of the Old Testament. The new age dawned with a play known by a religious name and interpreted as an act of providence.
'Dee-fence! Dee-fence'

But before the Steelers ascended to the ranks of winners, they had to vanquish the Browns. Cleveland had won 34 of the first 45 games played against the Steelers, and the radio stations in a city where the river caught fire looked down their noses at Pittsburgh.
The breakthrough came on a gray, gloomy Sunday in 1972, with the teams tied for first place, in a game The Pittsburgh Press called Armageddon. It was a chance to right everything for all the bad years, and a resolute bunch of blue-collar fans packed Three Rivers Stadium to be part of it.
A throaty roar went up an hour before the game and never let up. Those who were there on that Dec. 3 game to witness a 30-0 victory can attest that the reinforced concrete actually pulsated as primal voices, without prompting, chanted "Dee-fence! Dee-fence! Dee-fence!" while savoring every delicious moment.
"I got the feeling that if we didn't win, the fans were going to come out of the stands and win it for us," said linebacker Andy Russell, who intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, leading to 10 points.
From that day on, the Steelers have never failed to sell out a game.
After finishing first in the division for the Steelers' first title of any kind, the Oakland Raiders came to town for the first playoff game here in a quarter century. It was as fun to watch as a street fight. The Steelers allowed their first touchdown in December and fell behind late in the game.
On fourth down, with time nearing expiration, Art Rooney got into the elevator on his way to consoling his team. Then a 17-second sequence buried the Same Old Steelers for good.
A pass thrown to Frenchy Fuqua, who was belted by Jack Tatum the instant the ball arrived, caromed backward end over end. Franco Harris picked it out of the air at shoe-top level at the 42-yard line and ran into the end zone with five seconds left.
In the bedlam, referee Fred Swearingen phoned the press box to confer with Art McNally, the NFL's director of officiating. "You have to call what you saw," the referee was told.
Since none of the officials saw anything to negate the result, Mr. Swearingen raised his arms to signal a winning score, making official the single most electrifying play in NFL history. The fact that the collision and the reception maintain an element of controversy only adds to the mystique.
There was no Super Bowl trophy that year, but the play lives on. Two figures greet passengers headed to baggage claim at the Pittsburgh airport. One is of a young George Washington, who fought to claim the fort that became Pittsburgh. The other is of Franco Harris reaching out to recreate the city's moment of unabashed joy -- the Immaculate Reception.

Elvis
05-08-2008, 03:03 PM
:coffee: Memories like this are classic in my opinion. :helmet:

The_WARDen
05-08-2008, 04:45 PM
Isn't it 2008? :doh:

Galax Steeler
05-08-2008, 05:01 PM
Those were the days and there will never be another team like we had in the mid 70's.

rich4eagle
05-08-2008, 07:18 PM
The Steelers of the 70's the Steel Curtain were the greatest teams in the history of Pro Fooball hand down

VTsteel
05-08-2008, 08:21 PM
:thumbsup:

Elvis
05-09-2008, 06:30 AM
Isn't it 2008? :doh:
:noidea: Obviously, you Dont get it :doh:

LambertIsGod58
05-10-2008, 05:45 AM
I was very young when the teams of the 70's dominated the league. Those guys are like family to me. And it's the guys on those teams that made me a life long Steelers fan. It's been said many times, but you'll never see another team like we did back then. They were special!!

millwalldavey
05-10-2008, 04:32 PM
It's beautiful to have such a wonderful heritage.