The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul

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A stirring portrait of the decade when the Steelers became the greatest team in NFL history, even as Pittsburgh was crumbling around them.

In the 1970s, the city of Pittsburgh was in need of heroes. In that decade the steel industry, long the lifeblood of the city, went into massive decline, putting 150,000 steelworkers out of work. And then the unthinkable happened: The Pittsburgh Steelers, perennial also-rans in the NFL, rose up to become ...

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The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul

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Overview

A stirring portrait of the decade when the Steelers became the greatest team in NFL history, even as Pittsburgh was crumbling around them.

In the 1970s, the city of Pittsburgh was in need of heroes. In that decade the steel industry, long the lifeblood of the city, went into massive decline, putting 150,000 steelworkers out of work. And then the unthinkable happened: The Pittsburgh Steelers, perennial also-rans in the NFL, rose up to become the most feared team in the league, dominating opponents with their famed "Steel Curtain" defense, winning four Super Bowls in six years, and lifting the spirits of a city on the brink.

In The Ones Who Hit the Hardest, Chad Millman and Shawn Coyne trace the rise of the Steelers amidst the backdrop of the fading city they fought for, bringing to life characters such as: Art Rooney, the owner of the team so beloved by Pittsburgh that he was known simply as "The Chief"; Chuck Noll, the headstrong coach who used the ethos of steelworkers to motivate his players; Terry Bradshaw, the strong-armed and underestimated QB; Joe Green, the defensive tackle whose fighting nature lifted the franchise; and Jack Lambert, the linebacker whose snarling, toothless grin embodied the Pittsburgh defense.

Every story needs a villain, and in this one it's played by the Dallas Cowboys. As Pittsburgh rusted, the new and glittering metropolis of Dallas, rich from the capital infusion of oil revenue, signaled the future of America. Indeed, the town brimmed with such confidence that the Cowboys felt comfortable nicknaming themselves "America's Team." Throughout the 1970s, the teams jostled for control of the NFL-the Cowboys doing it with finesse and the Steelers doing it with brawn-culminating in Super Bowl XIII in 1979, when the aging Steelers attempted to hold off the Cowboys one last time. Thoroughly researched and grippingly written, The Ones Who Hit the Hardest is a stirring tribute to a city, a team, and an era.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Put simply, the 1970s Super Bowl rivalry between the Steelers and Cowboys was a study in contrasts between the smashmouth Steelers of struggling, blue-collar Pittsburgh and the computerized complexity of the Cowboys of glitzy Dallas. Pittsburgh won both championships largely because of its spectacular pass-catching pair, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, but the Steelers were also the "ones who hit the hardest." The subtitle's reference to "the fight for America's soul" indicates the overreach of the book: the narrative runs on three concurrent tracks (Steelers, Cowboys, and the steelworkers' union in Pittsburgh), with the third a cursory treatment that stalls the engaging football story. Both teams are traced from their beginnings to the formation of these 1970s championship teams, but the Cowboys are treated mostly as a foil to the heroic Steelers. The book ends abruptly after the second Super Bowl confrontation, with no coda on the 1979 season that saw the Steelers' fourth Super Bowl triumph and the Cowboys' farewell to Roger Staubach. Worth reading for its scoring plays, but there are a lot of misfires here as well.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592405763
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/2/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.34 (w) x 11.22 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Chad Millman is a senior deputy editor for ESPN The Magazine and is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller Iceman: My Fighting Life. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Pittsburgh native Shawn Coyne is a former editor and a publisher who has overseen numerous bestsellers, including Favre, Payton, Taylor, and Namath. He lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 13, 2010

    Loved this one

    I'm a Steelers freak, and I thought I knew a lot about Bradshaw, Franco, Swan, Jack L and the rest of the crew. But I didn't--not until I read TOWHTH. The background on the coaching and ownership side was fascinating. I also loved the Pittsburgh history, especially the stuff about the growth and collapse of the steel industry, and the corresponding demise of the union. It really gave me a sense of the desperation with which these guys played ball--not just to feed their families but also to honor the underdog who was getting his head kicked in during the 70's: the working man. When you're a kid, you see these gladiators on tv, and you think they're all millionaires, but many had second jobs. And as somebody who loved to hate Dallas, I found that side of the story remarkable as well. My worst fears were confirmed-The Cowboys were a money machine-but I found a new appreciation for them, especially in Tom Landry. I'd thought he was a cold-blooded pragmatist, but he was much more nuanced than I'd imagined. And again, not every Cowboy was a millionaire, I learned. Many came from Steelers-type backgrounds. I think my favorite parts were when Shawn Coyne's family history ties into the major events going on at the time. It gave the book a "you are there" feel. Seriously great read-and a fast one too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    Is there any profanity Is there any profanity in it?

    Fucfggff

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Highly Recommend!

    I bought this book for my husband..an avid Pittsburgh Steeler fan. He found it to be informative and interesting.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011

    Made me a fan

    I picked up this book for my girlfriends dad and dexideed to read it before I gifted it. Before reading the book I wasn't really a football or Steelers fan but now I can say that I'm huge Steelers fan and I've come to appreciate the power that football can have.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Such A Good Book.....Just Too Short!!

    This was such a great book about the development of the 1970s Steelers and, to a lesser extent, the 1970s Cowboys. A fine walk down memory lane for a guy who grew up during that decade - but Millman could have added so much more to the book. Loved it, but it could, and should, have been so much more.

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