Some of this community was not around to witness Pittsburgh Steelers Football circa 1970s. I remember a time of heroes and giants.
Those Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s were larger than life. They graced the cover of Time Magazine. They cut Country Western Albums. They shot up Police helicopters they didn’t punch out 24 hour paper towel dispensers. These Steelers dominated Battle Of The Network Stars & ABC Superstars competition not Dancing With The Stars. The Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s had an entrant in that decade circa 1970s to not win the ultimate Championship (1976) but still sport arguably the NFLs greatest defense of all time.
Those Pittsburgh Steelers earned their place on Time Magazine and in cameo roles around Hollywood like “Cannonball Run” “Heaven Can Wait” and “Black Sunday” Stature was earned in the 4th quarter of close “win or go home” championship football games 4 times over 6 years. The apex occurred late in the 4th quarter of XIV with the Steelers trailing and reeling. Lambert intercepted Ferragamo deep in Steelers territory to turn back the Rams. Then Bradshaw threw it deep into the California night finding Stallworth for two long bombs including the go ahead TD.
Charles Henry Noll Team Emperor was often heard telling an aging veteran that might not have much left in the tank that it might “be time to get on with your life’s work” come 1980. Some felt that was disrespectful. But the Steelers knew then like they know now that it is a business. For the Pittsburgh Steelers it is a business more than most. Art and Dan Rooney don’t own Home Depot or invent streaming video. The Rooney family doesn’t even take action on dog tracks or horse tracks around the east coast or Florida anymore either. The Pittsburgh Steelers are their business. Their business needs to be successful and run for a profit. For those that say the Steelers decisions with Hines Ward, Aaron Smith and the pending decisions on countless aging others is “not the Steelers way” I say you weren’t around in 1980.
Young Steeler Nation, this way was the Steelers way in the original age of glory. Joe Greene got old. Bradshaw injured a wing. Lambert injured a toe. Franco broke our hearts in Seahawk baby blue just as our very own Marine, Hines Ward will with a huge blue and white smile through a horse shoe helmet. But Franco showed up at the Super Bowl the year he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame waving a terrible towel. Just as Ward will.
Hines Ward was the Steelers Marine for 14 seasons. Aaron Smith was a rock on the defensive line through 13 seasons and like Ward 3 Super Bowl appearances. The Steelers problem off the heels of the 70s that led to the failures in the 80s is what has to be the current Steelers front office main focus now.
The Steelers utter inept display in the decade of the 1980s is a direct result of their failure to replace the talent of the 1970s through the NFL draft. It is imperative that with the 24th pick the Steelers get a couple starters for the next decade in the first two rounds. Two shots at top 60 NCAA talents can’t be wasted after picking at 31 and 32 so many times over the last few years. The Steelers were mired in the 80s because of choices like Greg Hawthorne, Walter Abercrombie, Tom Ricketts and Keith Gary. The Steelers need to come up Lamar Woodley Maurkice Pouncey HUGE in April.
This Steelers team of 2012 is in a bit of transition. We are not rebuilding we are reloading. The Steelers must part ways with expensive talent like Ward, Farrior, Smith and possibly Hampton and even Mendenhall so they can fit the next generation of talent under the cap. The entire core has reworked contracts. Ward’s last few yards had to be sacrificed for a future of Mike Wallace. The draft must yield results. The defense must get younger and quicker. The offensive coordinator must find a way to close the deal in the red zone and own time of possession. A consistent kicker must be found in college in Canada or on the wire. The window is open and the new decade is ticking.