Sunday, September 30, 2007

From the PG Archives: Rooney Unique in Pro Football Hall of Fame

He Never Played in Big Time But He Gave the Game a Lot

Sunday, September 30, 2007
By Vince Johnson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This story from the Post-Gazette archives was first published on Sept. 7, 1964.

Billy Conn (R) with brother Jackie and former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney. Rooney, a former fighter himself on the U.S. Olympic team was a good friend and Godfather of Billy's son Tim.

Art Came in on a Shoestring And He's Stayed for 30 Years

Art Rooney, who in 30 years of operating a professional football team, has achieved the inscrutable dignity of a philosopher, received an honor yesterday.

He was enshrined in Pro-Football's Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio.

In pro philosopher is an owner who never has won a league pennant. The Pittsburgh Steelers, never as productive as the steel industry from which they derive their name, next week will begin their 31st season with an apparently firm resolve not to disturb the tenets of Rooney's philosophy.

The reasons for Rooney's induction into the Hall of Fame may seem obscure. He never ran for a touchdown in a National League game. Nor did he ever throw a pass or punt. He just sat unobtrusively in the grandstand or press box and chewed on a moist, raveling cigar.

He's Just Himself

But, in the unlyrical language men use in talking about other men, Rooney is simply a great guy.

He is -- and to a much lesser degree still -- a gambler. To him horses are foaled to be bet on. But honesty is more than a policy with him; it is a way of life.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: "To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school,. but so in love wisdom as to live according to its dictates a life simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust."

Welsh and Irish

Rooney's practical brand of wisdom was acquired in "The Ward," a tough, brawling section of the Northside near old Exposition Park. His father, Daniel, a Welshman was a saloonkeeper; his mother, Kathleen, was Irish. The Rooneys had come to the Northside from a small mining town near McKeesport, where, on Jan. 27, 1901, Arthur was biorn. He was one of nine children.

Arthur played football and baseball and boxed. He attended St. Peter's Parochial School, Duquesne University Prep School, Indiana Normal School and finally spent a year at Georgetown University on an athletic scholarship.

He won the welterweight boxing championship of the A.A.U. In 1925 he was player-manager of the Wheeling baseball club in the Middle Atlantic League. His brother, Dan, was a teammate.

Art, an outfielder, appeared in the most games in the league, 106; scored the most runs, 109; made the most hits, 143; and stole the most bases, 58. He hit .369 finishing second. Dan, a catcher, finished third with .359.

As a scrappy halfback, he played semi-pro football for the Hope Harvey, Majestic Radio and James P. Rooney clubs. Then, in 1933, he scraped up $2,500 and bought a Pittsburgh franchise in the National Football League.

Forest (Jap) Douds was the coach. That year the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they were called then, lost six and tied two. Ray Kemp, a tackle, was the first Negro to play in organized football. The star halfback was Angelo Brovellio, from St. Mary's.

In 1938--Coach Joe Bach gave Pittsburgh its first break-even year, six and six.

"Then I made a mistake," said Rooney. "I let Bach go to Niagara University. If he had stayed here, we might have won our share of championships. We got John (Blood) McNally and then Walt Kiesling for coaches.

Johnny Never Worried

"I was at the race tracks all the time and Blood Kiesling usually were there with me. Bach never was a race track man, Blood was one of the few coaches who never worried about his players. His players worried about him. Blood was a playboy."

Bach came back to the Pittsburgh club, by that time called the Steelers, in 1952 and stayed for two undistinguished seasons. He was again followed by Kiesling, whose three seasons were equally undistinguished.

The Justice Played Here

Byron (Whizzer) White, now an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, played with the Pirates in 1938.

"White probably gave as much of himself as any athlete who ever lived," said Rooney. "We traveled by train in those days and the players played cards. All, except White. He'd read books -- I suppose they were law books."

But Rooney rates Bill Dudley as "the best all around football player I've ever seen."

"Dudley," he said, "was a Jimmy Brown on offense and a Night Train Lane on defense. Steve Owens of the Giants, and Greasy Neal, of the Eagles, imposed an automatic fine on their quarterbacks if they called a pass play into Dudley's territory.

"Dudley had his troubles with Jock Sutherland. Dudley liked to play Dudley's game instead of Sutherland's."

Rooney is quite frank about his gambling.

"For a period of years after 1927 I was one of the country's biggest and most successful horseplayers. I'm still considered one of the top handicappers in the country. But I'm only a spot player now. And I never have made as much as $2 bet at any track I had an interest in," he said.

And Rooney added, he never has bet on pro football, baseball or boxing.

The time Rooney went to a race track he was touted. He was 18 years old when he visited the Maple Heights track in Cleveland.

The tout whispered that he had a good thing in the next race. Rooney gave him $100 to play. The tout brought back some tickets and shoved them into Rooney's hand. Rooney counted the tickets and they totaled a play of $50.

But the horse won at 2-1 and Rooney had his $100 back.

One Legend That Is True

Many of the betting legends involving Rooney are apocryphjal. But this one is true.

In 1935, Rooney and Tony Canzoneri, the one-time lightweight champion, were at Saratoga.

Rooney placed a bet, then went to the men's room. The porter started talking football with him and Rooney missed the race. After it was over, a friend came in and told Rooney his horse had won.

Rooney thanked him casually--and continued talking football with the porter.

He had just won $50,000.

In the middle 1930s Rooney ran unsuccessfully for the office of register of wills of Allegheny County. He made a speech in Houston, PA., one night and listener interrupted to inform Rooney it wouldn't do him any good. Rooney was campaigning in Washington County.

A subsequent speech in Syria Mosque was a classic of political candor. Rooney said: "I don't know what the register of wills is supposed to do and I don't even know where the office is. But, if you elect me, I'll hire people who will know."

In reporting the incident, Time Magazine commented that a rare species of political Diogenes had been discovered in Pittsburgh.

First published on September 30, 2007 at 3:34 am

Steelers of '60s didn't win often, but the team was a-changing characters like Bobby Layne

Courtesy of American Iron and Steel Institute.
Steelers John Henry Johnson, left, Bobby Layne, Dick Hoak and Buddy Dial hold the original Steelmark in 1962. The logo was adopted that year for the team's helmets.

Sunday, September 30, 2007
By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The go-go '60s came with some radically different bookends, and not just with the Steelers.

It started with uncomplicated times that conjured images of Camelot. Bill Mazeroski's home run slew the Yankees. A new president played touch football on the White House lawn. And some swashbuckling Steelers introduced Baby Boomers to life in the fast Layne, as in quarterback Bobby Layne, along with coach Raymond (Buddy) Parker's rogues' gallery of Tom (The Bomb) Tracy, Buddy Dial, Eugene (Big Daddy) Lipscomb, John Henry Johnson, Ed Brown, et al.

"Lots of characters," mused Dick Hoak, who was a rookie running back in 1961 and a witness to history before he collected five Super Bowl rings as the longest-tenured assistant coach in franchise history.

It ended with Rocky Bleier wounded in Vietnam, a 13-game losing streak under future emperor Chuck Noll and the Steelers ready to make a fresh start in a new alignment and the first home of their own.

The one constant in a decade of tumultuous change? The franchise again failed to win a title. They may not have been the Same Old Steelers, but they posted the same old results. It's always darkest before the dawn.

Through the lens of time, the early '60s were less innocent than they appeared. But before pro football took off like an Atlas rocket in the Mercury Program, pro quarterbacks still partied into the wee hours and then drew up plays in the dirt on crisp autumn afternoons.

It has been said that Robert Lawrence Layne, who quarterbacked Detroit to three NFL titles in the 1950s, never once threw a pass that spiraled and never passed up a night out. Mr. Layne, who died in 1986, never got the Steelers over the hump in his twilight years, but he is a member of the Legends Team and one of the all-time free spirits.

"He used to say he wanted to run out of money and breath at the same time, and he came pretty close," said Mr. Hoak. "But he was as good a two-minute quarterback as there was."

And all the stories of late-night antics?

"They were all true," he added. "A lot of them you can't print, and the ones you can't print were true, too."

A Hall of Famer who played without a face mask, Mr. Layne passed for 66 touchdowns and ran for eight more in his time with the Steelers, during which the perennial losers were 33-28-3. The high point came in 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the year the Steelers first put the American Iron and Steel Institute's Steelmark logo on the right side of their gold helmets. Their nine wins stood as a franchise record for a decade, and they earned a spot in the Playoff Bowl, also known as the Losers Bowl, pitting the runner-ups in each division against each other.

Asked once how he could play so well after staying out all night, Mr. Layne once said: "I sleep fast."

As proof, the Steelers had assembled in Miami over New Year's Eve for the Jan. 6, 1963, game against the Lions. Mr. Hoak ran into his quarterback in the hotel lobby at about 1:30 a.m.

"He said we were going upstairs to play cards, and that I was going to be his good luck charm," Mr. Hoak recalled. "Before you know it, it was 5 or 6 in the morning and we had a meeting at 9 o'clock. I said, 'Bobby, I've got to get some sleep.' And he said, 'Aw, go on, your luck's no good anyway.' When it came time for the meeting, his hair was combed, he was freshly shaved and it looked like he had slept for 10 hours. I guess he could sleep fast."

The Steelers lost, 17-10, to the Lions in the second postseason game in their history. It was Mr. Layne's final game, and his last pass was an interception in the final seconds. It was also the game the Steelers switched to black helmets but kept the new logo, which was put only on the right side. (The official version is that the logo was attached only to one side to see how it was received, and when the fans liked it, that's the way it stayed. Conspiracy theorists spin all kinds of variations, however.)

The times were a-changing, and not just because the team had introduced the novelty of cheerleaders. Yes, the Steelerettes and the Ingots adorned the sidelines in the '60s.

By 1963, the year the San Diego Chargers of the upstart American Football League put the steroid Dianabol on their training camp tables, future president George W. Bush was a senior cheerleader at his prep school in Massachusetts and a fateful day awaited President Kennedy in Dallas.

The Steelers had been stunned by the off-season death of All-Pro defensive lineman Eugene Big Daddy Lipscomb, who died of a heroin overdose on May 10, 1963, in a Baltimore apartment after a night out in his new yellow Cadillac convertible. At 6-foot-6, 290 pounds, he played just two seasons with the Steelers but was named to the Legends Team. In retrospect, his death was an early illustration of a decade notorious for sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

America, in turn, struggled to come to grips with the Nov. 22 assassination of President Kennedy. Three days later, the NFL went ahead with its Sunday schedule, and the Steelers settled for a tie with the Bears. That game was played just hours after Lee Harvey Oswald was killed on live TV by Jack Ruby.

In the final game of that season, the Steelers needed to beat the Giants -- a team they had shut out 31-0 earlier at home -- to advance to the NFL title game for the first time.

The inside story, as once written by Myron Cope in True magazine, was that quarterback Ed Brown decided to go on the wagon in the week leading up to the game. He played shakily, and the Steelers suffered a sobering 33-17 defeat to finish fourth.

"After that year, things started going bad," Mr. Hoak said.

Parker's strange ways

To this day, Buddy Parker trails only Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher on the all-time win list. His teams posted winning records four times in eight years, matching the number of winning seasons compiled by all of his predecessors combined. Yet he left the Steelers with a clouded legacy.

Preferring veterans over rookies, Mr. Parker mortgaged the future for the present. In 1961, for example, he traded five of the first seven picks, including the No. 1, but still got Myron Pottios and Dick Hoak. (The two players were opponents in a 1956 WPIAL title game, with Mr. Hoak's Jeannette team prevailing over Mr. Pottios' Charleroi.) Two years later, the Steelers didn't pick until the eighth round because all the early picks had been packaged in trades.

A moody, brooding man with a volatile temper, Mr. Parker often cut or traded players after a galling loss.

"He was an excellent offensive coach. And he was great when you won, but you never knew what would happen when you lost," Mr. Hoak said.

"On a plane ride home, he would walk back in the aisle of the plane and ask a player to get up so he could sit next to a guy who may have fumbled or dropped a pass. He'd sit there and call him every name in the book," he added. "One time, we lost a preseason game, and he put the whole team on waivers. The commissioner's office called the next day and said he couldn't do that. He told them 'Why not? They all stink.' He would just lose it."

Fans never forgave Mr. Parker for a trade he made three days after the 1963 loss to the Giants. To shore up his defense, he traded receiver Gilbert (Buddy) Dial -- a fan favorite -- to the Cowboys for the rights to negotiate with defensive lineman Scott Appleton. Mr. Appleton then signed with the AFL's Houston Oilers, and the Steelers were left empty-handed.

The typical sentiment of irate callers who reached Mr. Parker's home was: "You must be crazy."

In other fits of rage, Mr. Parker often threatened to quit only to be talked into coming back. But midway through a winless exhibition season in 1965, when U.S. combat troops had already been dispatched to a place called South Vietnam, he resigned. This time, it was accepted, and the Steelers started over.

"When this team gets lucky, it'll be lucky for 10 years," Mr. Parker once said.

No one could see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

Younger Rooneys take over

In 1964, the Beatles appeared on the "Ed Sullivan Show," Cassius Clay won the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, and marchers for civil rights sang "We Shall Overcome."

And on Sept. 6 of that year, Steelers owner Arthur J. Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Making the speech on his behalf was David L. Lawrence, former mayor and governor, who was a force behind the idea of a Three Rivers Stadium as part of Pittsburgh's Renaissance.

An NFL pioneer, The Chief had argued successfully in 1956 for the right of the players to form a union. He endorsed the system under which NFL owners agreed to share TV revenues. And he was even offered the job of commissioner after his friend and one-time partner, Bert Bell, died watching a Steelers-Eagles game in Philadelphia in 1959. Although he turned down the job, he helped broker the deal that seated Alvin (Pete) Rozelle on the 23rd ballot in 1960, just as the upstart AFL challenged the football establishment.

But the Steelers still hadn't won a title, and Mr. Rooney often ducked down alleys to avoid his critics who held him responsible for every bad trade, every bad personnel decision and every bitter defeat -- all of which were in plentiful supply.

"Nobody feels any worse than I do about losing," Mr. Rooney told those who would listen. "Some of those years were good. It was all fun. We traveled on a train or a bus, and you got to know everybody. You got close with everybody."

The torch had been passed to a new generation of Rooneys, however.

Dan, who was less than a year old when the franchise was founded, took over day-to-day operations in the '60s and represented the Steelers in most league matters. He had served the Steelers in every position from water boy to laundry washer, and it was Dan who took back control of the team by accepting Buddy Parker's resignation.

In addition, Arthur Jr., three years younger than Dan, took over scouting and personnel.

The meaning of 'Heidi'

So much happened it was tough to keep up with it all.

The Pill liberated women. Cities were torched in race riots, including one in Pittsburgh after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. More and more Americans felt misled by President Lyndon Johnson, a tough-talking Texan who had declared a war on poverty but left it to his successors to find an exit from Vietnam. There was an arms race, a space race, a generation gap, a credibility gap and the band played on.

The establishment Packers won five NFL titles in seven years under Vince Lombardi -- the coach, not the trophy -- who was credited with saying winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. The anti-establishment AFL, with its two-point conversion and names on the backs of jerseys, lit up scoreboards and packaged a Beaver Falls quarterback as Broadway Joe Namath. After a spending spree almost wrecked both leagues, a merger was worked out to create the Super Bowl and a common player draft.

Meanwhile, a 1965 Harris survey registered a seismic shift. Sports fans said they preferred football to the national pastime of baseball by a margin of 41 percent to 38 percent. The "Heidi" game of 1968 between the Jets and Raiders, when TV cut away from a dramatic finish to show a movie, convinced the networks of the power of America's passion.

In Pittsburgh, John Henry Johnson became the first 1,000 -yard rusher in franchise history, performing the feat twice in a Hall of Fame career. On Nov. 28, 1965, Ray Mansfield played at center against the Browns and remained at the position for 181 more games. The Steelers had nine passes intercepted in a 1965 game with the Eagles to tie an NFL record. They also allowed 12 sacks in a 1966 game against the Cowboys, a record shared with three other teams. The Steelers trotted out a 1967 uniform with a gold V-shape; it was called the Batman jersey because it resembled the outfit worn by Adam West, TV's caped crusader.

Leaving Forbes Field

While the concrete shell of Three Rivers Stadium rose near the Bridge To Nowhere, the Steelers played their final games at Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium while practicing at the Allegheny County property of South Park.

The players dressed in what was a Red Cross shelter, which they called the Hospital. In the absence of lockers, players hung their clothes on hooks. The showers, when they worked, often lacked hot water. Rain or snow barged in through broken windows. The commodes had no seats to leave up. There was no track to run on, so the players ran through the woods. Wily veterans would get to the tree line, sit down for a rest and then rejoin the rookies as they ran back to the Hospital. After the first frost, the field would turn into a quagmire. Practice was sometimes held in a barn, but the dust from leftover hay clogged eyes and noses. Players had to drive to team headquarters Downtown in the Roosevelt Hotel to get paid.

But the place had its moments.

"Buddy Parker would practice in the mornings and have meetings in the afternoon. We'd go out to lunch at the South Park Inn, grab a couple of beers and come back for the afternoon meeting," Mr. Hoak said. "One day, after the offense met, I walked by the defense's meeting. The lights were off. The projector was running, and there was a click, click, click from a reel of film that had run out. Everybody in that room was asleep."

A man with a plan

After enduring three different coaching reigns in the decade, Dan Rooney launched a coaching search to lift the cloud that hung over the family. Joe Paterno had turned down the job. Cleveland assistant Nick Skorich was under consideration, but it was a Cleveland native and a former Browns player who impressed him the most.

On Jan. 27, 1969, Chuck Noll was introduced to Pittsburgh via a conference call. A defensive coach with the Baltimore Colts, he was asked his thoughts about coming to Pittsburgh, the City of Losers, given the history of the Steelers.

"We'll change history," he replied.

Mr. Noll, who was called The Pope by former coach Paul Brown because he was always right, laid the foundation for the turn-around by selecting Mean Joe Greene from North Texas State with the fourth overall selection in the NFL draft. Terry Hanratty, Jon Kolb and L.C. Greenwood were also chosen in that draft.

Another metamorphosis was afoot. To complete the merger between the AFL and the NFL, the Steelers agreed to bolt the establishment and play the next season in the American Football Conference of the realigned NFL. Art Modell of the Browns said he'd move too if the Steelers went with him, and the Baltimore Colts also switched. Each team got a $3 million payout for moving. For the Steelers, it promised a fresh start.

Before training camp was over, and with President Nixon withdrawing troops from Vietnam, word arrived that Rocky Bleier had been wounded in battle. On Aug. 20, in an ambush in a rice paddy, the Army infantryman was wounded in the left thigh, and shrapnel from a grenade tore into his right leg and foot. A 16th round draft choice out of Notre Dame in 1968, Mr. Bleier received a get well card from The Chief during his recuperation in a Tokyo hospital.

Astronauts had left bootprints on the Moon that summer, but the Steelers tracked more mud into their record book.

They won their first game under Noll, then suffered 13 straight losses -- a record number for a franchise branded as a perennial loser. Joe Greene seethed so much during the streak he once tossed a football into the stands during a game against the Eagles, and he was ejected from two other games for flagrant penalties.

"I'm not going to accept the losing," he said, drawing a line in the dirt.

The Steelers shared the NFL basement with the Bears, whose only win that season was over the Steelers. A coin toss was scheduled in early 1970 to determine who would get the No. 1 pick in the draft.

"Our record didn't change. But our sense of destiny, the way we felt about ourselves, changed under Chuck," said Mr. Greene. "He had a plan."

First published on September 30, 2007 at 12:00 am
Next Sunday: The 1970s Tuesday: The Steelerettes and the Ingots and the cannon shot heard 'round the stadium. Robert Dvorchak can be reached a

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bob Smizik: It's same old, same old

Neal Huntington

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates' much-maligned motto of "We Will" has been around for a long time and the subject of many jokes. It's time for a change. Here's the perfect replacement.

"Business As Usual."

It's short, snappy and, more important, it sums up the philosophy of the organization that is winding down its 15th consecutive losing season.

With the announcement yesterday that Neal Huntington will succeed Dave Littlefield as general manager, the face of top management totally has changed in the past nine months. Unfortunately, the policies of management have not.

It's business as usual for the Pirates. It's still baseball on the cheap, no matter how it is spun or who's doing the spinning.

The elevation of Bob Nutting to principal owner in January, the naming of Frank Coonelly as president earlier this month and now the hiring of Huntington has placed new men at the top of the organization, but nothing more.

This is not a criticism, it's a fact.

Coonelly was hired by Nutting to implement what appears to be the identical philosophy the club has operated under for much of the past 12 seasons or since Kevin McClatchy, with considerable help from G. Ogden Nutting, bought the team in 1996. Huntington, who previously had served as an assistant general manager with the Cleveland Indians, was talking pretty much the same game Littlefield did when he took over in July 2001.

We know it's all about player development. We know it's important to get a strong foothold in Latin America. We know the Pacific Rim is teeming with talent. And we know that other small markets -- Cleveland, Minnesota and Oakland, to name three -- have been successful.

Oh, that it were so easy.

It's entirely possible that as Coonelly and Huntington met with Post-Gazette reporters yesterday they thought they were preaching a new gospel. After all, they haven't been around for these 15 losing seasons. But there was nothing new in their spin. It was the same old, same old.

What ails the Pirates is not so minor that it can be cured by replacing McClatchy with Coonelly and Littlefield with Huntington. There need to be major changes in the club's spending policies. It's easy to remember Littlefield for a serious list of major blunders and hard to remember that he, too, once was a bright, young star.

Littlefield's resume was spectacular. He had a background both in scouting and player development. He had worked in small markets, Miami and Montreal, and, of real significance, he had been mentored by Dave Dombrowski, the certified genius who took a downtrodden Florida franchise to a World Series victory in 2003 and who took an even more downtrodden Detroit franchise to the American League pennant last year.

Of Littlefield, Dombrowski said, "He really assisted me in everything. There wasn't anything -- not an area -- he was not exposed to. He's a very intelligent individual, well-rounded, extremely personable. He has progressed so much more quickly than you'd expect."

It's easy to say Littlefield failed in Pittsburgh. It's just as easy to say he, like Cam Bonifay before him, was defeated by the broken system that has kept the Pirates on the bottom.

Huntington appears to a bright guy and well versed in the ways of baseball. But he comes with a lesser pedigree than Littlefield. What's more, his resume reads like he was demoted from the inner circle of Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro. His most recent duties have been advance scouting on the major-league level, not usually a position of high influence in an organization.

Huntington strenuously maintained otherwise. "I never lost any role in terms of strategic planning or long- or short-term decision making," he said.

Just as Coonelly said on the day he was hired, Huntington insisted the Pirates can win with a Bob Nutting-payroll, which is the lowest in the National League Central this season.

"I have full conviction and full commitment from Bob and Frank that the resources I believe are necessary to do what we want to do in scouting and to do what we want to do in development will be there."

But will the resources be there when the time comes -- and it has to if a team ever threatens to be good -- when salaries will dramatically escalate?

None of this is to suggest the Coonelly and Huntington might not be the people to end this losing. Maybe their player-personnel decisions, their draft choices, their free-agent signings will trend toward being successful instead of too often catastrophic. Most certainly, the Pirates' luck on such matters is due for a change.

But let no one forget this: Despite the new faces, for the Pirates it's business as usual.

First published on September 26, 2007 at 12:00 am
Bob Smizik can be reached at

Bob Smizik, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Peabody High School, began his journalism career at The Pittsburgh Press in 1969. He covered high school sports for two years, the Penguins for one year, the Pirates for six years and Pitt football and basketball for five years before becoming a columnist in 1983. He joined the Post-Gazette in 1993 as a columnist.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Once loyal employees, Whisenhunt and Grimm would love to knock off players they used to coach

From left: Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Tomlin, Russ Grimm.Three of the four finalists for the Steelers' head coaching job early this year will stand on the field Sunday in Arizona.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There will be Ken Whisenhunt, who took the Cardinals' offer rather than wait for the Steelers to go through a more protracted interview process.

There will be Cardinals assistant head coach and line coach Russ Grimm, who thought he had the Steelers' job only to learn a day later he did not.

And there will be Mike Tomlin, who is tied with Bill Cowher as the only Steelers' rookie coach to win his first three games.

As Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger acknowledged Sunday, it should make for an interesting week.

"It's going to be a great game, I think," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "Arizona is going to come at us with everything they have. Whis wants to win that game, I think, more than getting to the Super Bowl and winning it. I know they're all excited to play us."

Whisenhunt was the Steelers' offensive coordinator the past three seasons under Bill Cowher, and their tight ends coach for three seasons before that. Grimm, a native of Scottdale in Westmoreland County who played at Pitt, was the Steelers' offensive line coach since 2001 and promoted to assistant head coach in '04 in part to help him get a head coaching job.

As it became more evident that '06 would be Cowher's last season, Whisenhunt and Grimm quickly became prime candidates, if not the candidates to succeed him. Whisenhunt even opted out of the Atlanta Falcons search for a coach when he told them he wanted to wait for the Steelers' decision.

He changed his mind after interviewing with Arizona and accepted its offer.

The Steelers choice then came down to Grimm and Tomlin, a young outsider seen as a long shot. Grimm thought he had the job on Jan. 20, and there were published reports that both Grimm and Tomlin would be the new head coach. Tomlin was given the job Jan 21 and introduced as the new coach at a news conference Jan. 22.

Team president Art Rooney II acknowledged that "leaks," including those from the NFL office, led to confusion and that there might have been a misunderstanding on Grimm's part.

"I think it's fair to say Russ was close," Rooney said in January. "We gave serious consideration to giving Russ the job and he merited it. That's why we made him a finalist."

It's fair to say Grimm would like nothing better than for the Cardinals to beat the Steelers Sunday.

Keisel joked about it when he said the Steelers would "get ready to go down and smack Russ around."

"It's going to be cool, I think," Keisel said. "It'll be interesting to go out there and face Whis, who we're used to going against. It'll be nice to see them again."

But neither Grimm nor Whisenhunt will get to play against the Steelers, and it's hard to tell if their passion for this game can be passed to players who weren't emotionally involved. Only three Steelers from last season are on the Cardinals' roster -- special teams player Sean Morey, defensive end Rodney Bailey and center Chukky Okobi, signed by Arizona two weeks ago after the six-year veteran was released by the Steelers before the opener. They also have tight end Tim Euhus, who spent the first week last season on the Steelers' roster.

The Cardinals have played well despite a 1-2 record. Each of their two losses came in the closing minute on the road, in their opener at San Francisco and Sunday at Baltimore. They beat a good Seattle team at home.

Tomlin can become the first Steelers coach to win his first four games. Jim Mora was the last rookie coach to go 4-0 in 2004 with Atlanta. He was fired after the '06 season.

Wally Lemm holds the NFL record by winning the first 10 games he coached. He took over for Lou Rymkus after the Houston Oilers opened 1-3-1 in the 1961 season of the old American Football League. The Oilers won their next 10 games, including the AFL championship against San Diego. Lemm then quit to become head coach of the old St. Louis Cardinals.

Those Cardinals are in Arizona today, and a rivalry with the Steelers, at least for one year, began the day Whisenhunt was hired. It intensified when Grimm was hired after the Steelers spurned him. It picked up in the offseason when Whisenhunt and Roethlisberger disagreed over why the quarterback had a poor 2006. Roethlisberger has since taken some not-so-subtle swipes at the "old" Steelers offense under Whisenhunt vs. the new one under Bruce Arians.

"Obviously they're going to be coming off a hard loss and coming at us with everything they have," Keisel said. "I think it's going to be our biggest test of the year."

First published on September 25, 2007 at 12:00 am
Ed Bouchette can be reached at

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Is there a catch to Miller being 'the guy'?

Monday, September 24, 2007
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Three weeks in a row now, a Steelers tight end has caught a Big Ben bullet in the end zone.

Three weeks in a row now, the Steelers have been methodical, inelegant, lopsided winners.

Three weeks in a row now, the authorities have contended that the connection between the two, if any, is almost purely happenstance.

"It's never by design, at least never a main focus," said Jerame Tuman, who scored yesterday's seemingly obligatory tight end touchdown in the second quarter of a 37-16 destruction of San Francisco. "It's just that we've got a great playmaker in Heath Miller, and a lot of our success comes off play action."

Tuman might correctly posit that tight end accomplishment would drop precipitously without the continuing ground force that is Willie Parker, but it's more than all right to think that the Steelers' tight ends are just awfully good.

"We've never been bashful about saying that," coach Mike Tomlin said in the moments after steering this Steelers team to the first 3-0 start around here in 15 years. "[But] we take what the defense gives us. I thought they did a nice job. You have to give those guys credit. They have two corners that can play some football in Walt Harris and Nate Clements, and the tight ends just stepped up big. Heath had a good day."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hugs tight end Jerame Tuman after scoring a third-quarter touchdown against the 49ers at Heinz Field, Sept. 23, 2007.

The constant pressure Harris and Clements brought to the Steelers wideouts might have been the primary ingredients in another sometimes curious offensive stew that consisted of more Roethlisberger completions to tight ends (five) than to wide receivers (four). But how long must we recite this sublimating tight end gospel without blurting out the somehow uncomfortable truth that Heath Miller not only can be, but probably should be considered a star in this league.

"I don't think I'm going to be 'the guy,' " Miller said with his typical borderline sheepishness. "The good thing about this offense is that we're all capable of making plays. I'm seeing different looks every week, but it's all just a matter of staying consistent and knowing that if you do that, something's going to shake out."

What shook out yesterday included four Miller catches for 82 yards, three of them on scoring drives, including a 20-yarder that sustained the drive that culminated in Roethlisberger's play action 9-yard toss to Tuman for a 14-6 lead that was never threatened.

"They were in a zone," Tuman said. "The linebacker went with me when I turned it out to the right, but he was too late."

Too late by two steps to prevent the fourth tight end touchdown of the young season. Miller and Matt Spaeth both scored at Cleveland in the opener, Spaeth again last week against Buffalo, and even with Spaeth out with a thigh injury yesterday, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians put two tight ends in the formation frequently, triggering another round of serious damage.

After three games then, three Steelers tight ends have 14 catches for 175 yards and four touchdowns. If that weren't production enough, you'll note that it was Tuman along with Najeh Davenport whose crackling blocks sprung loose [Allen] Awesome Rossum on a 98-yard kickoff return that flipped the only Steelers deficit of the season after all of 12 seconds.

"I was going back toward the wedge, tracking their '4' (the fourth attacker from the left boundary), and when I hit him I felt Allen go right off my butt," Tuman said of what would be the third-longest kickoff return for a touchdown in Steelers history. "I knew it was going to be big."

Who knew, or would claim to, that Miller was going to be the force he has become in this offense even as the No. 1 pick in 2005? His first pro catch was for a touchdown. His 87-yard scoring play in last year's opener against Miami is a Heinz Field record. He has caught touchdown passes in all three season openers since draft day and continues to develop a reputation as not only a willing but often a devastating blocker.

Steelers tight end Heath Miller (83) appears to catch a third-quarter pass on the 1 yard line but was ruled out of bounds after a challenge by the 49ers. 49ers linebacker Hannibal Navies (55) was in on the play.

"Hopefully that's something we can learn from," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said about the holes Miller shot in the 49ers' 3-4 defense. "Ben looks for him a lot. We had defenses called today where we should have been tighter on him, but at the same time you saw a couple where we were tight on him and he still made plays. One was called back."

That's the one on which Miller beat backup linebacker Hannibal Navies around the right perimeter, looked back for Roethlisberger's throw, reached around the head of the linebacker and made the catch with one, but not two feet in bounds. An incredible athletic play overturned on a replay challenge, the kind of play that might make you wonder why Heath Miller can't be "the guy."

I mean, if he isn't already.

First published on September 24, 2007 at 12:00 am
Gene Collier can be reached at or 412-263-1283.

Fast Willie's wheels getting a lot of mileage

Monday, September 24, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Based on the quality of competition -- three teams without a winning record last season -- and their absence from the 2006 playoffs, it would be the height of foolishness to so much as suggest the Steelers should have Super Bowl ambitions.

But based on their near-flawless play against those opponents it would be the height of foolishness not to suggest the Steelers are a team that can take its Super Bowl hopes seriously.

The San Francisco 49ers were the latest team to be rendered almost totally ineffective by the Steelers. The 49ers came to Heinz Field yesterday undefeated and doubtlessly with some serious aspirations of their own. They left soundly beaten, 37-16, and full in the knowledge they have significant deficiencies.

That same can't be said of the Steelers.

Their defense overwhelmed another opponent and has allowed only 26 points and no first-half touchdowns in three games. It held Frank Gore, who led the NFC in rushing last season, to 39 yards on 14 carries and contributed a touchdown of its own on cornerback Bryant McFadden's 50-yard return of an interception.

Their special teams were solid overall and spectacular in one area as Allen Rossum rambled for 98 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return after San Francisco had taken a 3-0 lead.

Their offense was vintage Steelers, controlling the clock, getting big plays from Ben Roethlisberger, who looks very much like the 2005 version of Big Ben, and, most of all, getting the kind of always steady, sometimes sensational running from Willie Parker, which any team with championship aspirations absolutely must have.

It was the fourth consecutive 100-yard game for Parker and his fifth in the past six games dating to last season.

Because he is every bit as much Modest Willie as he is Fast Willie, there will be no self-promotional bellowing from this very grounded young man. But it's pretty clear Parker is emerging as one of the NFL's elite running backs. He was sixth in the NFL, third in the AFC, in rushing last season with 1,494 yards. He was third in the NFL going into yesterday.

Because he is small by NFL running back standards -- 5 feet 10, 209 pounds -- it once was believed Parker could never handle the heavy-duty inside work the Steelers require. He had the look of a complement to a Jerome Bettis, but never a replacement. It took a while to dispel that myth, and even after last season's outstanding play there were doubters. The truth of the matter is that he has a chance to be better than Bettis.

"He's a complete back," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He runs inside. He runs outside. He gets a lot of credit for his speed, and he's very fast, but he's a tough runner. He gets tough yards. He's a competitor. He gets better with each carry.

"He wants the ball. He wants to be part of it. He wants to be the reason we win."

He is a large reason why they win. Roethlisberger was outstanding in making plays yesterday. His ability to bide time, evade defenders and make crucial completions were mindful of 2005. But the Steelers are a team that must win by the run, and Parker gives them that opportunity.

He was supposed to be the second-best back on the field yesterday, behind Gore who ran for 1,695 yards last season. He clearly was not. He clearly was the best back on the field.

On his first three carries, which didn't come until late in the first quarter, Parker ran for 13, 5 and 6 yards. In a second-quarter drive that produced the offense's first touchdown, Parker ran for 23, 2 and 17 on his first three carries. He knocked off a 15-yarder in the fourth quarter. It's not just that he's a threat to go all the way every time he touches that ball, it's that he's capable of being stopped at the line of scrimmage and turn the play into a 4-yard gain.

At his news conference last week, Tomlin said, "We're going to ride Willie until the wheels fall off." That's what Parker was waiting to hear.

After his 24-carry game, Parker said, "They're not falling off. Hopefully, they're a long way from falling off. I'm not tired. I want more carries."

That's about as boastful as Parker will get. He's the anti-Chad Johnson. He doesn't want to draw attention to himself, he wants to draw attention to his team.

"It's not just me, give the credit to the guys up front," he said to open his postgame comments.

About the lack of attention he gets on the national stage, he likes it just fine.

"I just take it week by week and go out and play and at the end of the year, you [the media] can do the ranking.

"I don't care about all that. All I care about are the guys in this locker room. As long as we know in this locker room what I bring to the table, that's all that counts."

They know in the locker room and they're finding out beyond the locker room that Parker is for real, and a major reason why the Steelers are, too.

First published on September 24, 2007 at 12:00 am
Bob Smizik can be reached at

49ers will need more than Gore on offense

Nancy Gay
San Fransisco Chronicle
Sunday, September 23, 2007

49ers running back Frank Gore (21) is taken down by the Steeler defense in the first quarter.

(09-23) 19:53 PDT Pittsburgh --

Three games in, and the 49ers - no longer invincible - have discovered their own inconvenient truth: Frank Gore, playing his guts out week after week, cannot carry them.

Their 2-0 record, constructed out of Popsicle sticks, paste and a winning margin of four total points, disintegrated Sunday on the road once an elite NFL defense took direct aim at the 49ers' most dependable scoring threat.

The Steelers stacked the box, planted safety Troy Polamalu in the rushing lanes, blitzed quarterback Alex Smith and gradually overpowered San Francisco 37-16, sending streams of Pittsburgh folks home from Heinz Field early.

And yes, the 49ers did throw the ball to tight end Vernon Davis, as per his request. Not that he caught them all.

Or that his four receptions for 56 yards helped all that much, especially when referee Gerald Austin interpreted a third-quarter Davis catch-and-tumble reception at the Steelers' 32-yard line as an incomplete pass.

But as coach Mike Nolan pointed out, there was more variety in the heavily critiqued 49ers attack this week. More bootlegs for Smith, who finally threw his first touchdown pass, a 21-yarder to Taylor Jacobs in the blowout fourth quarter. More shotgun. An unusual pass attempt to heretofore unused vertical threat Ashley Lelie, who appeared to rationalize Nolan's lack of faith in his free-agent wideout by dropping the ball.

Gore, along with his teammates on offense, realize they no longer can live by the run on first and second down, or the what-the-heck field goal. Certainly they can't depend on the generosity of their mistake-prone division opponents.

"I tried. But they came and played good defense," said Gore, a man of few words and simple truths who had 14 carries for 39 yards against the Steelers' third-ranked defense. "We've just got to play better offense right now. We're struggling."

By failing to capitalize early on prime opportunities, the 49ers practically invited the fourth-quarter rout. In point of fact, there was the first-quarter sack of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger by outside linebacker Hannibal Navies, who forced a fumble on the play and recovered the ball at the Steelers' 22-yard line. Navies' effort was wasted when the drive stalled at the 4-yard line.

"It's real frustrating. Like I said, you get a touchdown, it's better for the team. Three points is good but seven points is better," Gore said. "It would have been a better game."

Settling for three points time after time because of dropped passes, poorly timed routes and a lack of urgency has caught up to the 49ers, and they're now 2-1 with a renewed sense of purpose.

"There were a lot of plays in that game that would have made a difference," Nolan said. "We had a couple of dropped balls in the first half that would have made a difference."

Nolan, though, would not use the critical ruling on the Davis noncatch - a point when the 49ers trailed 17-6 and really could have used a touchdown - as an excuse why his team lost.

"I would like to think, because we can control this, that we lost the game," Nolan said. "When you start putting it on somebody else, I can't control that."

Did the Steelers take Gore out of the game?

Not as much as the 49ers did, by falling into such a deep hole. "You're passing because of that," Smith conceded.

Pittsburgh had not allowed an individual 100-yard rushing performance in 27 games, including the playoffs, dating back to the 2005 season. In their past 52 games, the Steelers had allowed only one player, then-Colts running back Edgerrin James, to exceed the century mark in rushing yards.

This season, the 3-0 Steelers of the Mike Tomlin era have returned to attack mode on offense as well, outscoring opponents 97-26.

Their ability to neutralize Gore on Sunday is not striking. It is a trend. Teams are stacking eight and nine players in the box against him, and the NFC's leading rusher last season saw this coming back in training camp.

For a single-minded guy such as Gore, a player who defines himself by his ability to pile-drive his 223 pounds into stacked defensive fronts and bust through chunks of daylight, the 49ers' inability to butt heads on offense has gotten to him.

"Yeah, man. I mean, all of the guys, we've got to come together, man. We ain't together right now, man. The defense is doing all they can out there and we ain't matching them at all," said Gore, who has 175 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries after three games.

Take away his 43-yard touchdown run at St. Louis, the 4th-and-1 third-quarter burst, and Gore's average per carry drops from 3.4 yards to 2.6.

What Gore left unsaid was this: It's time for Davis, for Smith, for Darrell Jackson and Arnaz Battle and the rest of the 49ers' offensive players to pull their weight. Gore and kicker Joe Nedney shouldn't bear the individual strain of scoring the points, week after week.

The good news is, the message was received.

"We left some plays out there on the field. There were big chunks there," Smith said. "That was a good defense we faced. And I think we'll learn a lot from this game."

E-mail Nancy Gay at

Steelers' relaxed approach fuels strong start

Steelers linebacker James Harrison hits the 49ers' Maurice Hicks in the third quarter.

By John Harris
Sunday, September 23, 2007

There was a casual, almost cavalier attitude among Steelers players in the locker room following their final practice for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

With everything that their new coach touches turning to gold -- not to mention outscoring their first two opponents, 60-10 -- the Steelers weren't behaving like a team preparing for a big game in two days against another 2-0 team.

"Friday is sort of our winding-down day," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "Coach is not going to try to run us to death. He's going to have us fresh and ready to play. That's why everybody's a little bit more relaxed."

Confidence mixed with overconfidence can make for a dangerous combination.

Instead of taking San Francisco for granted yesterday, the Steelers took the 49ers to the woodshed, 37-16, at Heinz Field.

"That is the battle. We talk a lot about how it's not the destination, it's the journey," coach Mike Tomlin said of the Steelers' first 3-0 start in 15 years. "We have to appreciate the now and be who we are. This team is doing a nice job of living in the present. When you do that, you prepare, you have good men, you're capable of doing what they did today."

Steelers running back Willie Parker rushed for 133 yards on 24 carries against the 49ers.

What the Steelers did against San Francisco is exactly what they did last Sunday against Buffalo, and two Sundays ago in Cleveland.

They methodically dismantled another opponent -- intimidating the 49ers with a swarming, suffocating defense, killing them softly with a balanced offensive attack paced by running back Willie Parker, and going for the jugular with big plays on special teams.

"As bad as we played last year, we don't want to go out and have that type of season again," said Farrior, who leads the Steelers with 20 tackles. "That's what we can control -- our effort. We're going to play hard every down, every play, and it's showing up out there."

For a change, the Steelers didn't blow the barn doors off early.

They trailed, 3-0, in the first quarter, marking not only their first deficit in 2007 but the first points they've allowed in the first half this season.

Before the 49ers could build on their momentum, the Steelers created some of their own.

Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin speaks with return man Allen Rossum on the sidelines at Heinz Field, Sept. 23, 2007.

Allen Rossum fielded the ensuing kickoff and scooted 98 yards, untouched, making it 7-3. San Francisco had held the lead for 12 seconds.

"They drove down the field and got a field goal on us, and we answered right back," Rossum said.

Since acquiring Rossum, who has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, Tomlin promised there would be days like these.

Tomlin said Rossum displayed flashes of breaking a return in the first two games, that it was a matter of time before he carried one all the way back to the house.

"We didn't get off to the start that maybe we wanted to in several phases. Things that we haven't done thus far this year," Tomlin said. "There's no blink in the men. They stayed the course. Hopefully, that's the personality of this football team, but you can't deny the spark of that special teams play."

Steelers linebacker James Farrior sacks the 49ers' Alex Smith in the fourth quarter.

Farrior can't deny Tomlin's influence on the Steelers' fast start.

"He's brought a lot of new energy to the team," Farrior said. I feel like he brought an extra spark that we probably were missing last year."

It's still early in the season, but so far Tomlin's Steelers haven't missed a beat.

John Harris is a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at

Steelers clicking on all cylinders

Steelers tight end Jerame Tuman celebrates his third-quarter touchdown.

By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, September 23, 2007

The caliber of competition remains questionable, although in offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' opinion, that was a top-10 defense the Steelers' offense scored 23 points against Sunday at Heinz Field.

What can't be debated is the 3-0 Steelers are firing on all cylinders in the wake of their 37-16 hammering of San Francisco.

The offense stayed patient and managed a touchdown with 37 seconds left in the first half and a field goal on its first possession of the second half, establishing control on the scoreboard in a game the Steelers were dominating on the field.

The defense came within a missed sack by Brett Keisel of scoring one more touchdown than it allowed. Keisel got a hand on quarterback Alex Smith but couldn't get him on the ground just prior to Smith finding Taylor Jacobs for a meaningless touchdown.

"It's a fine to me," Keisel said, ignoring the play's degree of difficultly. "I was very upset that I missed that play. I just came too hot. And he stepped up at the right time, and I got nudged in the back at the right time."
You can't have everything.

What the Steelers got from their offense and defense was more than enough, and they received more than they envisioned from their special teams.

After the Steelers allowed 63- and 44-yard kickoff returns a week ago against Buffalo, coach Mike Tomlin said he wanted that stuff cleaned up.

The special teams responded and contributed a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Allen Rossum for good measure.

"Probably my easiest touchdown that I've ever scored," Rossum said. "I was untouched. I only had to make one move.

"My 4-year-old could have run through that hole."

Steelers returner Allen Rossum returns a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter Sunday against San Francisco at Heinz Field.

Rossum's return, which immediately wiped out the first deficit the Steelers had faced this season (3-0), was designed to go left. His one move involved cutting back to the middle before eventually finding the far sideline.

It came off a tweaked kickoff-return formation not previously displayed by the Steelers.

Instead of lining up in their standard 6-3-2, the Steelers opted for a 6-1-2-2.

The difference was tight end Jerame Tuman lining up 10 or so yards behind the first line of six and approximately 20 yards ahead of what previously had been a wall of three blockers directly in front of deep men Najeh Davenport and Rossum.

"Their kicker does a great job of that surprise onside kick, the lob kick," Tuman said. "I was at a distance where I could play that and still get back on the return."

Tuman did so, and the return worked like clockwork.

"I'm supposed to come back and trap the 'four' and (Rossum) runs right off my butt," Tuman said. "That's pretty much what he did."

The special teams also came up large when punter Daniel Sepulveda, subbing for Hines Ward on the "hands" team, recovered an onside kick with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left.

"I talked to (49ers kicker Joe) Nedney after the game," Sepulveda said. "He said as soon as they saw me that's right where they were going."

The Steelers had been preparing Sepulveda for just such an emergency.

At 3-0, they've got all their bases covered.

Mike Prisuta is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at or 412-320-7923.

Ed Bouchette On The Steelers: Franco's catch makes writer's Top 10 plays list - barely

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Steelers
"The Immaculate Reception" by Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris.

The Steelers today will show on their big screen in Heinz Field what they've chosen as the seventh top game in their history, as part of their 75th season celebration.

They picked a Top 10 and show one at each home game. No. 1 will be shown at the final game of the season Dec. 16.

Here's hoping No. 1 is not the same old cliche -- the Immaculate Reception game. That may be the best ending of any game in Steelers history, but it is far from the most important one.

The Steelers asked some of us to pick our Top 10 and supposedly that helped them come up with their Top 10. I made the Immaculate Reception game 10th on my list and might have kept it off altogether except I did not want to have to explain why I forgot to include that game.

I did not consider my list based on games that merely had fantastic finishes such as the IR game, or even how visually entertaining they might have been (if so, some losses would be included there, such as in Denver in the 1989 playoffs) or if they were among the Steelers great comeback victories.

I chose mine based on the importance to the franchise, weighted heavily with big-time games such as Super Bowls. There may have been a hundred more interesting games played in the regular season than in the postseason, but so what? Big games are big games.

In fact, I did not pick one regular season game in my Top 10. That may be a fallacy of my list because I've seen some great regular-season games, but the fact I can't remember one more important than any I saw in the postseason is enough for me.

For the record, I also consider the Immaculate Reception game way, way overrated. It may be the greatest play in NFL history and the franchise's first playoff victory, but it was a dud of a game overall, and I don't believe the victory meant as much to the organization as many say it did. They went out and lost their next game, the AFC championship to Miami at home, and then went out and had their Three Bricks Shy of a Load season in 1973, when they went 10-4 and lost to Oakland in their first playoff game.

Bouchette's Top 10
Dec. 29, 1974
at Oakland
AFC Championship
24-13 W

Jan. 12, 1975
vs. Minnesota
Super Bowl IX
16-6 W

Jan. 18, 1976
vs. Dallas
Super Bowl X
21-17 W

Jan. 21, 1979
vs. Dallas
Super Bowl XIII
35-31 W

Feb. 5, 2006
vs. Seattle
Super Bowl XL
21-10 W

Jan. 15, 2006
at Indianapolis
AFC divisional playoffs
21-18 W

Jan. 4, 1976
vs. Oakland
AFC Championship
16-10 W

Jan. 20, 1980
vs. Los Angeles
Super Bowl XIV
31-19 W

Jan. 22, 2006
at Denver
AFC Championship
34-17 W

Dec. 23, 1972
vs. Oakland*
AFC divisional playoffs
13-7 W

*-Immaculate Reception game

Some explanations: I chose No. 1 because few gave the Steelers a chance to go to mighty Oakland and beat the Raiders. By upsetting them, it put them in their first Super Bowl. I chose No. 3 because it legitimized them as a great team, No. 4 because they became the first to win three Super Bowls and No. 8 because it sealed their dynasty.

I picked No. 5 because they finally won one for the thumb after 26 years and No. 6 because it not only was an upset, but a great game, a great finish and it established the Steelers as the team to beat that year.

My weakest pick may be No. 9, but that completed the most incredible road run to get to a Super Bowl in its 40-year history to that point.

The 'new' Steelers offense defies description

Coaches compile streamlined mechanism from past architects

Sunday, September 23, 2007
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At the dawn of sustained Steelers competence, a seminal event falling somewhere after the Beatles but before Bee Gees, there was something called the sophisticated trap offense. Directed by the professorial Chuck Noll, the STA featured two primary running backs instead of one, relatively nimble offensive lineman pulling and trapping and sometimes failing to do so, and the occasional deep throw, which was not timed, despite any urban legend to the contrary, to coincide with the 1972 release of Deep Throat.

Despite its success, the sophisticated trap offense in time gave way to the relatively unsophisticated East Coast orthodoxy of Bill Cowher and his first offensive coordinator, Ron Earhardt.

Some historical framing of offensive architects is necessary today, mostly because the Steelers play host to the San Francisco 49ers with an offense that is very new and very effective even when its very nature is not very evident.

I mean, I see it working, but what is it?

It's not the STA certainly, and not the old East Coaster. It's nothing like Chan Gailey's CAUTION WIDE LOAD, the first Pittsburgh appearance of five wide receivers in one set, and it's not the Kevin Gilbride compromise on the run and shoot, chuck and duck, buck and wing, or whatever he had cookin' in San Diego. Mercifully, it has none of the incoherence of the Ray Sherman project. It appears distantly related to the motion trickery of Mike Mularkey and the more moderate new balance approach Ken Whisenhunt tailored to the then-callow Ben Roethlisberger.

But again, what is it?

Thankfully, when you put that question to first-year head coach Mike Tomlin, and to his first-year Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, they don't say, "It is what it is."

"It's a compilation of years of being with a lot of different people," said Arians, who started drawing plays when Tomlin started kindergarten. "We're really still trying to find out what we do best, but everything starts off the running game."

That's in keeping with Pittsburgh liturgy, but the teachings are from almost everywhere else. Arians first studied attack theologies at Virginia Tech and Mississippi State, then at Alabama and Temple, then with the Kansas City Chiefs and then again at Mississippi State, his first coordinator job; then with the New Orleans Saints and then again at Alabama, his second coordinator gig; then with the Indianapolis Colts, where he was Peyton Manning's first pro quarterbacks coach. He was the offensive coordinator with the Browns before Cowher hired him as his receivers coach in 2004. Almost anybody's coaching DNA could turn up in Arians' first Steelers offense, including those of Bear Bryant.

"There's a lot of wishbone influence in the play action area," Arians said the other day. "There's stuff all the way back to Terry Bradshaw's Louisiana Tech hard sprint draw and throwback action. Tom Moore [the Colts' and former Steelers offensive coordinator] was a big influence, a lot of Joe Pendry. We're fortunate that our quarterback is really a good ball handler, and we're able to do some things that Steve DeBerg used to do."

Steve DeBerg?

"In Kansas City," Arians said.

That's where they met, and there is much about the offense you have seen in the season's first two weeks that has been taken from many such meetings, including from the intersection of Arians and Tomlin.

"We'd met a number of times, and coached against each other when I was in Cleveland and he was with Tampa Bay," Arians said.

When they met last winter, Arians didn't need much coaxing to stay on after the Cowher departure, and Tomlin didn't need any coaxing to elevate him to coordinator.

Just two games deep in this new Steelers era, the new offense has absorbed nearly as many glowing notices as the club's reliably superb defense. In two weeks, the offense has produced 60 points and 41 first downs of near perfect balance, 20 rushing, 20 passing, one via penalty. It has averaged 392.5 yards per game, 65.5 more than the league average. It has been cited for only two turnovers and kept the ball an average of nearly 36 minutes a game.

"We're just trying to highlight what our guys do well," Tomlin said. "We have more than 11 guys who are capable of doing things well -- three or four wide receivers, two or three tight ends, two fullbacks who have special abilities, a couple of tailbacks. We just want to use all the weapons at our disposal. The end product is multiple personnel groups, it's distributing the ball to a variety of people."

On top of all that, Arians has already advertised some no-huddle capabilities that haven't gotten much exposure. There is no name for this offense, Arians said, and for all its evident potential, it's hard to get a handle on it, which might just be its competitive strength. In fact, maybe that's it.

It's not the no huddle, it's the no handle.

First published on September 23, 2007 at 12:00 am
Gene Collier can be reached at or 412-263-1283.

1950s Steelers weren't pretty or very successful, but they were unquestionably tough

Sunday, September 23, 2007
By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jack Butler, who joined the Steelers as an undrafted player in 1951, set a franchise record with 52 interceptions, a mark later broken by Hall of Famer Mel Blount.

His gait was stiff, the consequence of two knee replacement surgeries, and his hair has grayed. But the eyes were still piercing and his black jersey with the gold No. 80 conjured up images of an era when tough men in tough times still played without face masks.

When the Steelers in their throwback uniforms registered the 500th win in franchise history last Sunday, 13 real-life throwbacks who are members of the all-time Legends Team were honored with a curtain call at halftime. Jack Butler was among several players from the 1950s who heard the cheers once more.

The Steelers of Mr. Butler's era lost more games than they won, but they established a tone that still defines a franchise playing its 75th season -- the blood-and-guts, hard-nosed style of Pittsburgh's Team.

"The Steelers always have been a physical team and always will be," Mr. Butler said before the game. "We didn't make a lot of money, but we loved the game. We played the game the way we thought it should be played. Other teams may have beaten us, but we always gave them battles. We always gave people their money's worth."

He first stepped onto a football field with the Steelers 57 years ago when he was a rookie at training camp under coach John Michelosen, the last NFL coach to use the single wing, an offensive relic designed for power running. At that camp in Cambridge Springs, the Steelers scrimmaged so long and so brutishly that a steady stream of battered players slipped off to the bus stop to head back home.

"Some of those guys, they didn't have to [get] cut. They just left on their own," Mr. Butler said. "The coaches would guard the exits to keep guys in camp. The only ones who made the team were the ones who survived."

In the '50s, the Steelers were 54-63-3 under four different coaches and finished with more wins than losses only twice. They started games by handing off so often to running back Fran Rogel that fans took up this chant: "Hey diddle, diddle, Rogel up the middle." But they were as indomitable as the brawling, bruising, shot-and-a-beer town they represented. The story is that opponents hated to play here because they'd be so banged up that they'd usually lose the following week.

Away from the gridiron, Pittsburgh was in the midst of its first Renaissance. Civic leaders such as Richard King Mellon, who understood that the city was choking on its own smoke, had brought in consultant Frank Lloyd Wright, who took a look at the industrial vista and said: "It would be cheaper to abandon it."

The generation that had liberated Europe and fought kamikazes from aircraft carriers in the Pacific Theater had settled down to parent the Baby Boom and create the suburbs, but a Cold War had already started and there was another hot war in Korea.

And a new-fangled technology called television was in the early stages of showcasing pro football to an audience that had spending money and leisure time.

Seeds of growth

When the franchise was still the football Pirates, Ed Kiely filed game accounts as a cub reporter for the International News Service.In 1950, he was hired by Steelers owner Art Rooney even though public relations was, in his words, "a mortal sin" for a newsman.

Radio began broadcasting pro football games here in 1936, with Joe Tucker behind the microphone, and the first NFL game to be televised was a 1939 contest between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Eagles on an experimental NBC station. But newspapers were still the dominant medium.

"Anything great always starts small," said Mr. Kiely, now 89. "I remember when I used to get in the car and drive to Uniontown, Brownsville, Charleroi and up into the Beaver Valley and ask them to please put our name in the paper. I remember building the press box on the 50-yard line at Forbes Field and how crude it was. The poor guys from the out-of-town papers hit their heads on the beams if they didn't duck down low enough."

By 1953, the Steelers were on TV. The Saturday night home opener on Oct. 3 was televised coast-to-coast by the DuMont Television Network, which owned and operation a station in Pittsburgh that was later sold to Westinghouse and became KDKA-TV Channel 2.

"We built stuff on the roof for TV. It looked like Shantytown," Mr. Kiely said.

By 1958, when the Colts beat the Giants in sudden death overtime of the championship game, the NFL and TV were beginning a marriage that turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Toughest Steeler ever

The prototype of steely toughness was an undersized lineman who to this day is the only player to have his number officially retired by the organization -- Hall of Famer Ernie Stautner, whose 14-year career began in 1950.

A native of Germany whose family emigrated to Albany, N.Y., when he was a toddler, Mr. Stautner fought as a Marine in the battle of Okinawa when he was 17. After World War II, he played football at Boston College and, at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, was drafted by the Steelers.

Mr. Stautner played in nine Pro Bowls and was named to the Steelers all-time team for their 50th anniversary. Primarily a defensive lineman, he also played offensive guard and tackle for a time. He missed only six games in his career despite having broken ribs, separated shoulders, smashed noses and gnarled hands.

Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jim Parker once said of him: "That man ain't human. He's too strong to be human. He's the toughest guy in the league to play against because he keeps coming head first. Swinging those forearms wears you down."

Andy Russell, a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Steelers in the '60s and '70s, remembers the game in which Mr. Stautner suffered a compound fracture of the thumb, and the bone was sticking out of his skin. He closed his first over it to set the break and asked what the defense was. Everyone in the huddle expected Mr. Stautner to go to the hospital after the opponent punted, but he wrapped a ball of tape around his fist and played the rest of the game.

"He never missed a down," Mr. Russell said. "He is clearly the toughest Steeler to have ever played the game."

Priestly intervention

Joining Mr. Stautner on the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1950s was Jack Butler, a Pittsburgh native who fits into a special category. He didn't play high school football and attended a seminary before he enrolled at St. Bonaventure University.

The school's athletic director was Father Silas, who had played sandlot football with Mr. Butler's father and had asked him to go out for the team. When Mr. Butler wasn't drafted by the pros, Father Silas, who was known as Daniel Rooney before he became a priest. recommended him to his brother, the Steelers owner,

He made the Steelers as a 170-pound defensive end and signed for $4,000, about $800 more than he would have been paid as an English teacher. But when an injury opened up a spot at cornerback, Mr. Butler settled in. He didn't miss a snap as a defensive back for the next eight seasons and played in the Pro Bowl four times. A devastating knee injury against the Eagles in 1959 abruptly ended his career.

"He was one of those warriors who had to be carried off on his shield," said Art Rooney Jr., son of the founder.

In his career, Mr. Butler intercepted 52 passes, including four in a 1953 game against the Redskins. The total stood as a franchise record until it was broken by Mel Blount. When Mr. Butler's playing days were over, only Dick (Night Train) Lane and Emlen Tunnel, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame, had more career interceptions.

In addition to scoring five touchdowns on defense, Mr. Butler also had seven career pass receptions, four of which went for touchdowns.

He later became a scout and headed the scouting combine BLESTO Inc. until his retirement last June. It has been said that he is the best Steelers player prior to the Super Bowl era who is not in the Hall of Fame, but Mr. Butler isn't concerned about such things.

"I've lived a charmed life. I got paid to play the game I love. I never had a job outside the NFL," said Mr. Butler, who lives in Munhall. "Yesterday's gone. There are many more things much more important to be than [in the Hall of Fame]. If it were to happen, it would be an honor and a privilege. If it doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world. There are more important things to me than that. I had eight kids, and they all went to college. I have 15 grandkids. I had a job in football for 56 years. I have a lot of great memories."

In addition to being on the Legends Team, Mr. Butler has the inside track for a spot on the 75th anniversary team that will be announced in November.

Passing on Johnny U

Training camp in 1955 was held at St. Bonaventure, in Olean, N.Y., and Jack Butler would stay after practice to catch passes from a strong-armed, crew-cut rookie who played high school football at St. Justin on Mount Washington and was once selected ahead of North Catholic's Dan Rooney as quarterback on the Pittsburgh Catholic All-Star team.

When the 1955 camp broke and the players were driving back to Pittsburgh for a Sunday exhibition game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mr. Butler gave the rookie a ride.

"You know, I think they're going to cut me," his passenger said during the drive home.

"No," Mr. Butler replied, reassuringly. "They have to give you a better look."

The next day, in the ninth paragraph of a Sept. 6 story in The Pittsburgh Press, the release of quarterback "Jack [sic] Unitas" was announced.

"Unitas, a Pittsburgher, was the biggest of the quarterback candidates. However, with Ted Marchibroda and Vic Eaton seeing the most of the understudy passing duties, the University of Louisville passer never got a chance to play in a ball game," the story said.

Mr. Unitas hung around Pittsburgh working construction and playing sandlot ball for $6 a game. He got another chance with the Baltimore Colts in 1956, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth began in earnest.

Johnny U. won the first of two straight NFL championships in 1958. When he retired after the 1973 season, he held 22 records, including most passes completed, most yards gained passing and most touchdown passes. Mr. Unitas, who was especially effective in the waning seconds of a game, was the league MVP in 1964 and 1967, and he played in 10 Pro Bowls. Sid Luckman called him the greatest quarterback of all-time.

Vic Eaton played one season and didn't complete a pass.

Tough practices, weak drafts

The Unitas decision was made by coach Walt Kiesling, one of the more curious characters in franchise history.

A Hall of Famer, Mr. Kiesling played 13 seasons in the days of leather helmets. He had three different stints in three different decades as a coach, compiling a 30-55-5 record. He did coach the Steelers to their first winning season and their first win ever against the Browns, but he also was Art Rooney's pinochle partner and frequent companion at the racetrack.

Mr. Kiesling is credited with breeding toughness into the Steelers image.

"We'd practice two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon every day. We'd kill each other," Mr. Butler recalled of the last three Kiesling years. "If there weren't a bunch of guys bleeding or fighting during practice, we were loafing."

Personnel decisions were another matter.

When the Steelers had the bonus pick in the 1956 draft and could choose any player in the country, Mr. Kiesling selected Gary Glick, a back from Colorado State who had had a non-descript career. Chosen later in that draft were Hall of Famers Lenny Moore, Forrest Gregg, Sam Huff, Willie Davis and Bart Starr.

Supervising the following year's draft, with Jim Brown still on the board, Mr. Kiesling picked Purdue quarterback Len Dawson. Mr. Dawson had a limited role with the Steelers in three seasons but later became a Hall of Famer and Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mr. Kiesling resigned for health reasons prior to the 1957 season, and Raymond (Buddy) Parker took over. The new coach promptly traded two No. 1 draft picks to San Francisco for quarterback Earl Morrall. He later peddled Morrall and two draft picks to Detroit for bar-hopping quarterback Bobby Layne.

A rivalry is born

The '50s had their notable moments.

In a 1952 game against the New York Giants, with snow flurries swirling around Forbes Field, Lynn Chandois returned the opening kick for a touchdown only to see it negated by a penalty. But he returned the re-kick 91 yards for a touchdown, and the Steelers were on their way to the biggest win in franchise history. In that 63-7 victory on Nov. 30, the Steelers knocked out two New York quarterbacks, leaving defensive back and future Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry to finish the game.

In addition, the rivalry with the Browns was born. Cleveland joined the NFL after winning four titles under Paul Brown in the All-American Football Conference.

The Browns dominated the NFL and won the first eight meetings with the Steelers -- it wasn't until this season that the Steelers finally took their first lead in the all-time series -- until a historic game on Oct. 17, 1955, at sold out Forbes Field. Led by a four-touchdown performance by receiver Ray Mathews, the Steelers won, 55-27.

As a kid playing football at McKeesport High School, Mr. Mathews used to sneak into Forbes Field to watch Bullet Bill Dudley play. He joined the Steelers in 1951 and was the Hines Ward of his day. Also a member of the Legends Team, he wore his throwback jersey as he exchanged stories with Mr. Dudley last week.

"It was a different atmosphere back then. The game was rough, but it was fun," said Mr. Mathews, 78. "You had a chance to get somebody back, because after a play was over and the whistle blew, you could hit anybody. They used to send me in motion a lot, and a guy would hold me. Then the play would go the other way, and I'd race over and hit him just as the whistle was blowing. That was fun."

Although he never played on a championship team, he enjoyed his time in the arena.

"The main thing about it, we weren't getting the best players. We'd have two or three guys who were the nucleus of the team. It wasn't that the other guys weren't trying, their heart wasn't in it," Mr. Mathews said. "If you don't have the heart to play this game, I don't care how much you cuss or yell. You have to hit somebody. You have to draw blood somewhere. You have to think about getting that elbow up. That's the name of the game -- just getting somebody's attention. The right way. That's football."

First published on September 23, 2007 at 12:00 am
Next Sunday: The '60s Robert Dvorchak can be reached at or at 412-263-1959.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

From the PG Archives: Rooney Tells How Big Deal Was Arranged

Originally published December 9, 1940

Friday, September 21, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bert Bell Chief Negotiator With Thompson in Sale Of Local Eleven
"Prez" Art Rooney has lost his title.

When he bought half of the Philidelphia Eagles yesterday after selling his Pittsburgh Steelers, the popular Northaide sportsman passed up any office in the eastern organization.

"I'll just go down on Saturday nights for the games." Rooney said last night in a telephone conversation with the Post-Gazette from Washington just after the National League had placed the stamp of approval on his rapid-fire selling and buying. "I certainly hated to give up the franchise in the old home town but it would have been poor business to refuse the proposition for a second-division ball club at the terms which were offered.

To Keep Home Here

"You can assure my friends back in Pittsburgh, however that I am not going to move to Philly. I'm satisfied to liver over there at 940 North Lincoln avenue on the Northside with those five young sons of mine."

Rooney revealed how the big deal which aroused sports fans throughout the country was consumated. Alexis Thompson, wealthy young New Yorker who is the new Steeler owner, had tried unsuccessfully to buy the local club for some time. Then he turned to Philadelphia and sought the Eagles. But Bell, owner of the Philly franchise, did all the bargaining last week when the two squads were split in a number of meetings with Thompson, Greasy Neale, Heinie Miller and Walter Kiesling. It all ended with Bell selling the Steelers rather than the Eagle franchise.

Bell Arranges Deal

"I never talked to Thompson until today after all the details were practically ironed out," Rooney asserted last night. "Bell did all the dickering. I feel certain that Pittsburgh fans will like their new owner and that he will give them a strong team."

Thompson told the "ex-Prez" that he expects to reside here during the football season.

From the PG Archives: Rooney Sells Pro Football Club To Boston Promoter

Originally published December 10, 1940

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Will Hire "Greasy" Neale as Coach -- Rooney Buys Into Eagles -- Bears Get armon, Cards Get Kimbrough in Draft

A new owner and a new coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers; a new co-owner and a new co-coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, a division of Steeler and Eagle players, some Steelers becoming Eagles and some Eagles becoming Steelers, are the main complications Pittsburgh pro football fans are expected to try to straighten out today.

The new owner of the Pittsburgh pro eleven is Alexis Thompson, persistent and wealthy young New York sportsman who hounded Arthur J. Rooney, local promoter, through last season with an offer to buy the Pittsburgh franchise in the National Football League, a Rooney possession the past eight seasons.

Thompson's choice for coach is Earle (Greasy) Neale, well known hereabouts as a former major league baseball player, ex-coach of Wash-Jeff and West Virginia University football, and for the past seven seasons, backfield coach at Yale.

With a part of the purchase price, said to be $160,000, paid him by Thompson, Rooney bought 50 percent of Owner Bert Bell's holdings with the Eagles and took with him Steeler Coach Walt Kiesling, who becomes co-coach of the Eagles, with Heinie Miller, present head mentor.

Rooney is reported to have paid Bell $80,000.

Players transferred

Under the new setup, Philadelphia transferred Ends Red Ramsey and Joe Carter, Tackles Phil Ragazzo and Clem Woltman. Guard Ted Schmidt, who formerly played for Pitt, and Backs Foster Watkins and Joe Bukant to the Steelers.

At the same time, Steeler players George Platukis, Walt Kichefski and John Klumb, ends; Clark Goff and Ted Doyle, tackles; Carl Nery and Jack Sanders, guards; and Boyd Brumbaugh, Jack Noppenberg, George Klick and Rocco Pirro, backfield performers, were transferred to the Eagles roster.

Perhaps the most definite point in the whole affair today was the announcement out of Washington, D.C., where all those complications came into the news yesterday during the annual business sessions of the professional loop, that a club would operate in Pittsburgh and another in Philadelphia, next season.

Thompson, an enthusiastic young sportsman of 30, vice-president of a drug company and son of a former director of a steel company, formed a syndicate three months ago, the East-West Sporting Club, to buy a franchise in the league, intending at that time to place it in Boston.

Thompson inherited a $6,000,000 steel fortune at the age of 15.

"I made only $5,000 this year, and it was a good year financially at home," Rooney said. "I figured that if that was the best I could do I would have to do something about it. The war situation and conscription, with regard to football players, also had me worried."

Rooney estimated his football losses over the eight years he held the Pittsburgh franchise to be around $100,000. He bought the franchise for $2500.

Will operate here next year

How long Thompson will maintain the franchise in Pittsburgh Rooney was unable to state.

"All I know is that he has said it will be in Pittsburgh next season," he said.

From the PG Archives: Grid "Pirates" Pass Out; They're the "Steelers" Now

Originally published March 2, 1940

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Steelers Primary (1933 - 1940)

The Pittsburgh Steelers make their first showing in the National Football League this fall.

They are Art Rooney's Pittsburgh Pirates, renamed now following a contest in which several thousand pro football fans submitted approximately 0,000 suggested nicknames.

They are named the "Steelers" because of the city's position as the world's leading steel center. The new name will bring an end to the confusion caused by two Pittsburgh Pirate teams, the National League baseball club and the pro grid aggregation.

The contest produced 21 winners, only one of whom is a woman. Each winner will receive two 1940 season tickets, which means the contest for the selection of a new name will set back Prexy Rooney the equivalent of $200.

The first actual contest entry was received Jan. 2 from Arnold, Uniontown Daily News Standard sports editor. One of his suggestions was the Steelers.

One man submitted 65 names touching virtually everything but the Steelers.

The feminine winner was Miss Margaret O'Donnell, 125 Hawkins Avenue.

Another winner was John H. Harris, president of the Hornets hockey club.

Contest entries came from as far away as Two Rivers, Wis., where the 1939 Pirates trained, and nearby Green Bay, where they played an exhibition game with the Packers.

Pittsburghers who shared in the prize-winning name were:

James J. Fallon, Jr., 323 Carson St.; Fred J. Litschge, 6103 Penn Ave.; Harry J. Milton, 3379 Parkview Ave.; Thomas Jones, 1502 Berkshire Ave.; John Vaiksnor, 2124 Sarah St.; P.J. Malloy, 102 Beelen St.; Arnold Thornburg, 1300 Beaver Ave.; Joseph K. Elkins, 67 Deary Ave.; Miss O'Donnell and hockey mogul Harris.

Others among the 20 winners were Andy Vuskey, Bridgeport, O., promoter who put on a Pirate exhibition game in Wheeling in 1935; Joseph Gafney, Johnstown; Frank Murman, Jeannette; Ronald Corbett, Clarion; Joseph Santoni, Charleroi; John Tirek, CCC Camp, Waterville; Frank Lesh, Beaver Falls; John F. Riley, North Braddock; Victor Salderelli, New Florence; Edward King, Butler, and Uniontown Sports Writer Goldberg.

Rooney and his head football coach, Walter Kiesling, looked over Conneaut Lake Park late last week as a possible training site for the Steelers.