Setting the DeLorean time circuits to 1985. Back to the Future competed with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure at the box office. Tears for Fears wanted us all to Shout because Everybody Wants to Rule the World. After 12 games your Pittsburgh Steelers stood at 7-5, poised to return again to the playoffs as they had in 1984. Miami’s Siamese quarterback, Woodstrock had been surgically separated, only to have David Woodley come to Pittsburgh and share QB duties with Magnum PI, I mean, Mark Malone. Which is just about all you need to know to know how the season ended up. We lost our last four games to finish 7-9, and out of the playoffs.
That we did not make the playoffs, however, did not mean our team was bereft of talent. The team was not that different from the one we fielded the year before, nor the record. in 1984 we finished 9-7, beat the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Dan Marino’s Dolphins in the AFC Championship game. Malone and Woodley, Erenberg and Abercrombie were less than memorable. Louis Lipps and John Stallworth, however, were split wide, and had real talent. Stallworth of course made it into the Hall of Fame, Lou (they’re saying Lou, not boo) Lipps made it into the Pro Bowl.
It was, as per usual, on the other side of the ball, however, where the Steelers were stronger. Keiths Gary and Willis were football’s equivalent of hockey’s Hanson Triplets- guys who seemed more interested in putting a hurt on the enemy than winning the game. Our defensive backfield sported Donnie Shell still from the glory years and a young Dwayne Woodruff. Another Steeler defensive back played a prominent role that year, as Tony Dungy served as our defensive coordinator.
It was our linebacking corps, however, that was the strength of the defense. No, we no longer had Hall of Famers Lambert and Ham, but we did have Robin Cole, Bryan Hinckle, David Little, Mike Merriweather and Dennis “Dirt” Winston. Some were near the end of their time in the spotlight, others at the beginning, but all of them enjoyed long and successful NFL careers.
In addition, we still had Mike Webster, a Hall of Famer, and as our kicker, Gary Anderson who like Donnie Shell, should be in the Hall of Fame. All of whom were coached by the Emperor Chaz who also has a bust in Canton.
My goal for this walk down memory lane is neither to show off my memory, nor to practice my google-fu. Rather it is to remind us all that a.) we’re not in the playoffs yet and b.) even when we have disappointing seasons we have reasons to give thanks. It’s already been a roller coaster ride of a season. We’ve had drama. We’ve had grievous lapses and embarrassing losses. We’ve had dominating wins, and frightening injuries. We’ve had more JuJu joy, and Conner strong success.
This is my first season without my dad to talk to. It’s my first season writing for BTSC. My hope is it will be my seventh season celebrating a Super Bowl victory. But even if it’s not, I’m grateful for every member of the Front Office, every coach and player on the team, and every citizen of Steelers Nation.