View Full Version : Ed Bouchette on the Steelers: A tour any fan will wish they made

10-13-2008, 12:25 AM
A look inside the team, the issues & the questions
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Steeler Nation: A Pittsburgh Team, An American Phenomenon" by Jim Wexell.

Greg Lloyd talks about his anger growing up, about his ex-wife and how he believes she forced their son to lie that Lloyd put a gun to his head.

And he talks about how he came to the Steelers an angry young man.

"That anger was there because I came from a little old black college right here in Fort Valley, a sixth-round draft pick, and then I've got these big jokers coming from these big schools and they are wimps and they [stink] and they're getting millions of dollars and they're there for two years and they're gone. They're set for life if they take care of their money, but I've got to make that up. I can play three years and not make that up. But I'm going to do it in practice. I'm going to find out if they breed them the way as they do in Fort Valley. Do you think you can play this game better than me? Well let's strap it up."

Lloyd paused, according to author Jim Wexell, and then stated, "There's no way that we shouldn't have won two Super Bowls."

The chapter on Lloyd is worth the price of admission alone in Wexell's latest and best book, "Steeler Nation: A Pittsburgh Team, An American Phenomenon." But this is not just another book on former Steelers and what they are doing now. It's different, based on the author's 9,928-mile road trip over six weeks around the country, from Pittsburgh through the South, across the Southwest to California up to Seattle and back home across the midsection of the nation.

Along the way, Wexell, his car toted behind a friend's RV, stopped to visit the small towns and large ones of current and former Steelers, taking time to interview their friends and families. He also stopped at various Steelers bars throughout the nation and was at times treated as royalty by fans.

The Irwin resident took time off from his job as a Steelers freelance beat writer -- he's covered the team since 1995 -- during the 2007 season for his research. The result is a delicious read about the life of Steelers fans and players' families away from Pittsburgh.

"The idea for the book struck me while reading Kevin Chong's road trip book Neil Young Nation," Wexell writes. "Chong made no point or broke no new ground. He just drove around North America and talked to people about rock and roll. The journey was the thing, and it was a fun read. I decided to do the same with Steelers Nation, the only true sports nation."

He scored a touchdown in doing so as dramatically as that 8-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward last Sunday in Jacksonville.

He visited the small town of Tenmile in southern Oregon, population 539, where Troy Polamalu grew up with the family of his uncle Salu Polamalu. Troy Aumua lived in a violent suburb of Los Angeles without a father, and a mother who had to work to support her five children. Troy visited his cousins in Tenmile and did not want to leave. His uncle, with his mother's permission, took him in and Troy asked to change his name to Polamalu.

As Troy told Wexell about his experience in Santa Ana, "My mom worked so I was basically on my own. I'd stay out till 12 or 1 in the morning. I'd go out late at night with 15 cents in my pocket and walk a half hour to get some candy. I loved candy so much my front six teeth were black. But I'd walk down the middle of the road so no one could jump out at me."

Wexell paid a visit to Colorado Springs and interviewed Aaron Smith's four older brothers and how their late father, a 6-foot-5, 320-pounder was a disciplinarian, to say the least. He kicked three of the brothers out of the house at age 16 and Aaron was forced out at age 12 and grew up in poverty.

"I got kicked out because I wouldn't do the dishes," brother Steve said.

"Aaron ... was so fearful of his father he began sleeping with a Bokuto -- a long wooden sword used to train Samurai fighters -- next to his bed," Wexell wrote.

"He even slept with it next to his bed the next couple years after my father passed away," Steve Smith told the author. "It tells you a little bit about what type of childhood we had."

Wexell produces gems like this over and over throughout his 223-page book.

You can find the book, published last month, at Orders@PittsburghSportsPublishing.com, or by calling 724-861-3554.

Seems like a-must-buy book 4 a Steelers fan. Did anyone read it?

Galax Steeler
10-13-2008, 03:31 AM
That book sounds very interesting I will have to consider buying one.

10-13-2008, 08:40 AM
Im always up for good reading material.

10-13-2008, 02:50 PM
I'll pick it up with probally my next paycheck, then I will give y'all a review.

10-13-2008, 02:57 PM
Not a reader, but anything about the great Steelers always sparks my interest.