Read an Excerpt
By Christopher Walsh
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2011 Christopher Walsh
All rights reserved.
Jim O'Brien told the following story in his book, Doing it Right.
One day during the offseason, Art Rooney was having dinner with sportscaster Curt Gowdy and their wives when the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers learned that Ralph Giampaolo, a longtime member of the Three Rivers Stadium grounds crew, was also there at his dog track in Palm Beach.
Rooney invited Giampaolo up his private box to join them.
"I'll never forget the way he introduced me," Giampaolo recalled. "'This is Ralph Giampaolo, a member of our organization.' Not a member of our ground crew. Not some rinky-dink bum, but a member of our organization. As far as Gowdy knew, I was vice-president of the team. Mr. Rooney made me feel 10 feet tall."
Although Rooney died in 1988, there are still daily reminders of his influence and impact on the organization, including portraits, a statue outside of Heinz Field, and his cigars — which some people swear they can still smell.
When the Steelers recently celebrated their 75th anniversary, a special collection of items was put on display in the Coca-Cola Great Hall at Heinz Field, including throwback jerseys, Super Bowl footballs, and personal mementos of the Steelers.
At its heart though, was a glass case that held an ashtray with three spent matches and an unused vintage cigar. The name on the cigar box read Braces, an El Presidente brand imported from Honduras. And although there were various informative descriptions about who the items had belonged to and what the man was about, only three letters were needed at the front of the case to identify their significance: AJR.
Arthur Joseph Rooney.
1. What's the origin of the Steelers' logo?
2. What are the three "stars" on the logo and what do the colors represent?
3. What color were the helmets when the logo was first used?
4. Who put the logo on only the right side of the helmet?
5. Why is it only on one side?
6. How much did Art Rooney pay to start the franchise in 1933?
7. According to Pittsburgh lore, how did he come up with the money?
8. In 2008, what did Forbes estimate the franchise to be worth?
9. True or false? The Rooney family has always owned the franchise.
10. True or false? In its early days the team played in places like Latrobe, Louisville, New Orleans, and Youngstown to avoid competing with baseball and college football?
11. Which number is bigger: the number of wins during the 1930s, or the number of head coaches?
12. True or false? The Steelers are the oldest franchise in the American Football Conference.
13. Who was considered the NFL's first big-money player?
14. How much was his contract with Pittsburgh worth?
15. What did he delay to sign the contract?
16. What prominent position did he go on to achieve?
17. Who was the last Steelers coach to not have a winning record?
18. Which popular college coach turned down the Steelers' offer to become head coach in 1969?
19. During its first 40 years, how many winning seasons did the franchise have?
20. Who came up with the idea of the Terrible Towel?
21. Who or what became the Steelers' official mascot in 2007?
22. True or false? Since the 1970 merger of the National and American Football Leagues, the Pittsburgh Steelers own the best regular-season record in the NFL.
23. Through the 2010 season, the Steelers had 577 total wins, the fourth most in NFL history. Name the three teams ahead of them.
24. Name the only team to have a better regular-season record in the free-agency era (since 1983).
25. How many head coaches have the Steelers had since 1969?
26. True or false? Mike Tomlin became the youngest head coach in NFL history to both coach in and win a Super Bowl when he led the Steelers to a 27–23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
27. True or false? Only Bill Cowher was faster in winning a Super Bowl after becoming the head coach of the Steelers.
1. It was the logo of the U.S. Steel Corporation (now known as USX Corporation), and later used by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) to represent the whole industry. It was adopted by the Steelers in 1962.
2. The three "stars" are actually hypercycloids, and the colors represent the materials used to make steel: yellow for coal, orange for ore, and blue for steel scrap.
4. Equipment manager Jack Hart.
5. The logo was only used on the right side because the organization wanted to test them out before making a final decision. When the 1962 Steelers finished 9–5 for its best finish to date, they kept them and further marked the occasion by changing the helmets from yellow to black.
7. A big day at the racetrack.
8. $1 billion
9. False. Art Rooney sold it in 1940, only to reacquire it with a partner a year later.
10. According to The Football Encyclopedia, by David Neft, Richard Cohen, and Rick Korch (1994), it's true.
11. Pittsburgh had 22 wins in the 1930s, compared to five head coaches.
13. Byron "Whizzer" White
15. His Rhodes scholarship.
16. Byron "Whizzer" White served 31 years as justice of the United States Supreme Court before retiring in 1993.
17. Bill Austin was 11–28–3 from 1966–68.
18. Joe Paterno
20. Myron Cope
21. Steely McBeam
22. True. Through the 2010 season the Steelers were 384–246–2, for a .612 winning percentage. The teams closest to them were the Miami Dolphins (379–251–2, .600) and Dallas Cowboys (373–259–0, .592).
23. The Chicago Bears (719), Green Bay Packers (690), and New York Giants (656).
24. The New England Patriots are 185–103–0 (.644) since 1993, while the Steelers are 181–106–1 (.630).
27. False. Tomlin did it in his second year, making him the fastest to win a Super Bowl title in Steelers history.CHAPTER 2
It all goes back to the 1860s and the campuses of two rival Ivy League schools, when Rutgers and Princeton decided to a play each other in a new sport that was a hybrid of soccer and rugby, but looked more like an organized riot. On November 6, 1869, they met using modified London Football Association rules and Rutgers won 6–4, despite one of its professors pointing his umbrella at participants and yelling, "You will come to no Christian end." There were roughly 100 people in attendance.
From there, the game quickly began to evolve, with Walter Camp, considered the father of American football, setting down rules in 1876 and continued to revise them until his death in 1925. His numerous innovations included one side potentially having undisputed possession of the ball until it gave it up or scored, the number of players on the field for each team reduced from 15 to 11, and the creation of the quarterback and center positions, in addition to the forward pass.
While football became a major attraction of local athletic clubs, with the Allegheny Athletic Association and Pittsburgh Athletic Club credited with having the first professionals, the first attempt at a pro league was made in 1902 when baseball's Philadelphia Athletics (managed by Connie Mack) and Philadelphia Phillies created pro football teams, joining the Pittsburgh Stars.
After years of unsettled confusion — with salaries rising, players jumping from team to team, and college athletes being used while still in school — an organizational meeting was held in 1920 at the Jordan and Humpmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio, to begin drawing up plans for a centralized league with one set of rules, the American Professional Football Conference. Two years later, the APFA changed its name to the National Football League.
The rest, as they say, is history.
1. What law change benefitted both the Pirates (now Steelers) and Eagles when they entered the NFL?
2. Who came up with the idea to hold an annual draft of college players, with teams selecting in inverse order?
3. When his team entered the league, owner Bert Bell doubled in what capacity for the Philadelphia Eagles?
4. In 1936, a rival league was formed, the second to call itself the American Football League. Which team won its championship?
5. In 1940, a rival league was formed, the third to call itself the American Football League. Which team won its championship?
6. Who was the first NFL commissioner?
7. How many NFL players died fighting in World War II?
8. Who was named commissioner in 1946, and where did he move the league offices?
9. What eventually ended his reign?
10. In 1948, what piece of equipment was banned, and what did officials replace with whistles?
11. When the NFL and All-American Football Conference announced a merger agreement, which three teams were added to the NFL in 1950?
12. What league-changing rule became permanent in 1950?
13. What association was founded in 1956?
14. True or false? The highest scoring season in league history was 1965.
15. Who appeared in the first Super Bowl ad that really became a part of pop culture?
16. After an 11-week trial in 1986, what did the U.S. District Court in New York award the United States Football League in its $1.7 billion antitrust suit against the NFL?
17. Which Steelers were named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1960s?
18. Which Steelers were named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1970s?
19. Which Steelers were named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1980s?
20. Which Steelers were named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1990s?
21. Which Steelers were named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 2000s?
1. A change in Pennsylvania law permitted football games to be played on Sundays.
2. Bert Bell of the Philadelphia Eagles.
3. In addition to owner, Bert Bell was also the Eagles' coach, general manager, publicity director, and ticket director.
4. The Boston Shamrocks.
5. The Columbus Bullies.
6. Elmer Layden
8. Steelers co-owner Bert Bell, who moved the league offices to Philadelphia.
9. He died of a massive heart attack while watching the Eagles and Steelers play in Philadelphia on October 11, 1959.
10. Plastic helmets were banned and whistles replaced horns.
11. Baltimore, Cleveland, and San Francisco.
12. The free-substitution rule.
13. The NFL Players Association.
14. False, it was actually 1948 when NFL teams averaged 23.2 points per game and three of the 10 teams averaged more than 30. The 1965 season saw the second-most scoring, 23.1
15. Farrah Fawcett lathering Noxzema shaving cream on Joe Namath's face in 1973.
17. No one.
18. Lynn Swann, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mike Webster, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Lambert, and coach Chuck Noll.
19. Mel Blount, Mike Webster, Jack Lambert, Gary Anderson, and Chuck Noll.
20. Kevin Greene, Rod Woodson, Dermontti Dawson, Hardy Nickerson, Levon Kirkland, Carnell Lake, and Gary Anderson.
21. Alan Faneca, Joey Porter, and Troy Polamalu.CHAPTER 3
In 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the midst of trying to pull the country out of the Great Depression, the struggling National Football League was ready to make some changes.
After Dutch Clark of the Portsmouth Spartans led the league in field goals with three, and only six were attempted, the goalposts were moved up to the goal line. Passing was allowed from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage instead of at least five years back, and the precursor to hash marks was created when the spot of the ball was moved 10 yards in from the sideline for the subsequent snap after any play ending within five yards of the out-of-bounds line.
But it was also when the eight-team league added two eventual strong pillars with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which were owned by Art Rooney and Bert Bell, respectively. Both certainly had their hands full the first few years, as did the other pioneers.
The Cincinnati Reds also joined the league in 1933, after the Staten Island Stapletons folded, but they only lasted a year. Portsmouth moved to Detroit in 1934, the Boston Braves became the Washington Redskins in 1937, the same year the Cleveland Rams came into the fold.
While the Steelers only won 22 games during their first seven seasons, Rooney and Bell ended up having crucial secondary roles, frequently acting as mediators and buffers between outspoken and frequently stubborn owners George Halas of the Chicago Bears and George Preston Marshall of the Braves/Redskins.
Without them, the league might have developed very differently, or possibly failed to survive.
1. What day is considered the franchise's birthday?
2. How old was Art Rooney when he founded the Pirates?
3. True or false? Rooney had been running a semipro team for years.
4. Who was the first coach?
5. Which team was the first opponent?
6. Where was the game played?
7. What was the estimated attendance?
8. Who scored the first points in a franchise game and how?
9. Who scored the first points in franchise history and how?
10. Who scored the first touchdown in franchise history and how?
11. Who scored the first offensive touchdown and how?
12. Against which team was the first victory? (Bonus: Name the score.)
13. During the first season, what was Mose Kelsch's claim to fame?
14. The 1933 season was the first featuring an NFL championship game. Which team won?
15. What division did the Pirates first play in?
16. True or false? It was the first year the NFL had divisions.
17. How many teams did the NFL have in 1933?
18. How many games did Pittsburgh win its first season?
19. True or false? The Pirates had the league's worst record that year.
20. True or false? They scored the fewest points in the league.
21. True or false? They gave up the most points.
22. In 1934, who was the first replacement at head coach?
23. What season was the first in which Pittsburgh didn't finish last in its division?
24. Who was the first Steelers player to lead the league in rushing? (Bonus: Name the year and number of yards.)
25. True or false? The franchise won its last game as the Pirates.
26. True or false? The franchise won its first game as the Steelers.
27. What year did the franchise record its first winning season?
28. When did it qualify for the playoffs for the first time?
29. Who was the first Steelers player to win the league's most valuable player award?
30. True or false? Chuck Noll won his first game coaching the Steelers.
31. Which was not true of Bill Cowher's first season?
a. The Steelers won his first game.
b. The Steelers won the division.
c. The Steelers were the AFC's top-seeded playoff team.
d. The Steelers won the Super Bowl.
e. All are true.
1. July 8, 1933
4. Jap Douds
5. The New York Giants, who won 23–2.
6. Forbes Field
8. Ken Strong of the Giants scored on a 33-yard interception return and then kicked the extra point.
9. Lineman Cap Oehler blocked a punt through the end zone for a safety.
10. Marty Kottler scored the first touchdown in franchise history on a 99-yard interception return against the Chicago Cardinals.
11. End Paul Moss scored the first offensive touchdown in franchise history on a 10-yard reception from Bill Tanguay against the Chicago Cardinals.
12. In their second game the Pirates defeated the Chicago Cardinals 14–13.
13. The 37-year-old kicker made a last-second field goal to tie the Brooklyn Dodgers 3–3.
14. The Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 23–21.
15. Eastern Division
18. Three. The Pirates went 3–6–2.
19. False, the Chicago Cardinals were 1–9–1.
20. False, the Cincinnati Reds, which somehow managed to win three games as well, only scored 38.
21. True, 208. Philadelphia yielded the second-most points with 158.
22. Luby DiMelio
23. 1935. It went 4–8–0 to finish third in the Eastern Division.
24. Byron "Whizzer" White, with 567 rushing yards on 152 carries in 1938.
25. False, the Pirates lost at Philadelphia, 7–0.
26. False. The Steelers tied the Chicago Cardinals, 7–7.
Excerpted from Steelers Triviology by Christopher Walsh. Copyright © 2011 Christopher Walsh. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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