Responding to Terry Bradshaw’s Criticism of Steeler Coach Mike Tomlin

If there is one thing I have come to know and understand over the last few years covering the NFL is its a brotherhood. Sure some former players have issues with others who had been with rival teams but normally there is a public face masking any contempt. That has been blurred in recent years when former colleagues have become a part of the media covering the league.

tomlinNow come on Terry…keep it above board. In all honesty we should have seen this coming from Bradshaw. He was critiqued very harshly as a QB in a time where you didn’t have the 24 hour scrutiny we have now. Not tabloid garbage mind you. People forget he was called dumb by the media. “‘Lil Abner in cleats”…etc… etc Millions upon millions of people reading you’re dumb for years. He’s never recovered from it.

How do we know this?

Consider the fact Terry Bradshaw left the Steeler organization following the 1983 season yet didn’t return to Pittsburgh until 2002 for an onfield tribute. He didn’t attend the funeral of former Coach Chuck Noll in 2014 and had a strained relationship with the organization and the fans of Pittsburgh for decades. Not only has time not healed all wounds but the preferential treatment afforded many high profile quarterbacks such as John Elway and Peyton Manning have drawn the Hall of Famers ire.

bradshawDo you remember following Peyton Manning’s loss in Super Bowl XLVIII to Seattle he scoffed “If you like winning good during the season and losing Super Bowls, that’s your guy?”

Do you remember right before Super Bowl XXIV when Bradshaw was quoted “John’s problem is he’s been babied. You know, babied by the city until this year and babied by the coach (Dan Reeves) a little bit. It’s just too easy. And you know what I went through in Pittsburgh a little bit. There’s nothing worse than just getting hammered. You fight that stuff. I think John’s got to get tougher.”  National pundits, who treated Elway as a media darling, shot back their criticism of Bradshaw’s comments and were silenced by his next bombshell.

The weekend of Super Bowl XXIV, Bradshaw as a part of CBS coverage, sat in a round table discussion on the game. When it came time to give their predictions Terry offered “I don’t see how Denver can win this game. This sucker could get as bad as 55-3.” Not backing from his criticisms of Elway.  What was the final score? Try 55-10! How off was he??

Let’s face it Terry Bradshaw is the opinionated uncle you pre-warn guests coming to your family’s Thanksgiving Dinner about. Yet his Hall of Fame status and career achievement winning 4 Super Bowl titles lend him that license. What he had to endure at the hands of the press and even NFL Films before their triumph in Super Bowl X, has left him scarred. If he had to overcome harsh criticism why can’t others?? Therefore he subjects others to it even though he still rails against his treatment in Pittsburgh.

Even filming Chuck Noll- A Football Life Bradshaw said on camera he wished Noll had dealt him away and didn’t like playing for him. So now he says Mike Tomlin is a cheerleader as a coach which begs to question which is it? Should the coach be driving and demanding like Chuck Noll as he had instead?? The same coach he didn’t attend his funeral and still speaks ill of their professional time together?? Does he feel as though Tomlin isn’t authoritative enough as a disciplinarian in his tenure in Pittsburgh? What fuels the criticism??

When Tomlin fired back “But what do I know? I grew up a Dallas fan. Particularly a ‘Hollywood’ Henderson fan.” A complete dig at Bradshaw in a tongue in cheek way. You’ll remember right before Super Bowl XIII Henderson was quoted “Bradshaw is so dumb he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the “c” and the “a”… prompting a funny response from Henderson: hollywood

The entire episode really illustrates what is before Coach Tomlin. I agree with Bradshaw in the fact that he is not a great head coach at this point. However 1 more Super Bowl appearance and he’ll become the 13th coach to have his team play for it all 3 times dating back to 1950. A 2nd Super Bowl win and he’ll become the 11th coach in the last 50 years to do so. Seven of which are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Bill Belichick will be the instant he is eligible. Not to mention the first black coach to do so.

Much like Bradshaw in his day he needs that 2nd championship to make the sporting press and critics cite him as great. His teams have evolved from the run first, defensive stalwart he inherited from Bill Cowher to a team that relies on its flamboyant passing attack with dynamic receivers and timely defense.

Hmmmm… isn’t that what happened with Bradshaw’s first two championship teams which leaned on Franco Harris & Rocky Bleier and one of the greatest defenses ever?? Bradshaw matured & had 300 yard passing games as the Steelers won Super Bowls XIII & XIV?? He ironically was the NFL’s MVP in ’78 and MVP of both those Super Bowls. Yet he emerged from being the Trent Dilfer of his day when he stood in and threw the 64 yard clinching score to Lynn Swann cementing his 2nd championship back in Super Bowl X.

The more you study the situation there is more to parallel their marches than meets the eye. Is a Super Bowl between Pittsburgh and Dallas looming in a little over a month?? Coach Mike Tomlin, the playoffs start in 2 weeks…. your mission should you choose to accept it…

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

SUPER BOWL XIII CHAMPION 1978 PITTSBURGH STEELERS

In the “Battle of Champions”, Super Bowl XIII on January 21, 1979 the defending champion Cowboys took on the Steelers in deciding who was to be the team of the decade. The first Super Bowl with a kickoff pushed back so that it would conclude in front of a primetime audience.

xiiipsThis was arguably one of the best Super Bowls of the first 25 that were played. Even though the Steelers had bested Dallas in Super Bowl X, this could make things even.  The discrepancy of 10 Steelers in the Hall of Fame vs. 3 for Dallas is beyond ridiculous considering Pittsburgh barely won 35-31.  Of course Cowboy fans point to a bogus “incidental contact” pass interference call between Benny Barnes and Lynn Swann, then you have the Jackie Smith dropped pass…nevertheless referee Fred Sweringen blew that interference call…it’s important because John Stallworth was out for the second half and the Steelers couldn’t move the ball.

Let’s take a trip back in time. Aside from Oakland and Miami, the Steelers and Cowboys were viewed as the best teams of the 1970’s.  The Steelers had won it all in 1974 and returned to the Super Bowl as a powerful defending champion. Pittsburgh repeated as champions and established themselves as a dynasty.  They dropped off the championship mantle for ’76 and ’77 yet were poised to return in 1978.

xiiips2In their absence the Dallas Cowboys had retooled themselves and ascended to the Super Bowl XII championship with Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett added to the mix. The young players that joined the Cowboys in 1975 like Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, and Randy White were now starters and superstars.  Now they were set to do what Pittsburgh had done and repeat as Super Bowl champions.  So for the second time they’d meet in a Super Bowl with one team coming in as a defending champion.

In 1978, the NFL saw rule changes that allowed receivers to only be chucked within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. This “Mel Blount rule” along with a rule allowing pass blockers to extend their arms liberalized the passing game. Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers became a new team as he led the league with 28 TDs thrown. The Steel Curtain wasn’t as stout as it had been in the mid 70’s yet they allowed the fewest points in the first 16 game season with 195 allowed. Franco Harris was still a 1,000 yard rusher at this time.

So this powerful 14-2 challenger went down to Miami’s Orange Bowl to take on the defending champion Cowboys who finished 12-4. For only the second time in the 13 year history of the Super Bowl, we would have two teams facing that each previously had won the game before. The first was the Steelers meeting the Cowboys in X, so everyone anticipated a great game for XIII. Two prime champions faced off and an epic battle ensued.

The Steelers opened up the scoring 7-0 with a Bradshaw to John Stallworth pass from 28 yards out.

After the Cowboys came back and tied the game with a Staubach to Tony Hill pass, Dallas “Doomsday Defense” struck. “Hollywood” Henderson and Mike Hegman sacked Bradshaw with Hegman stealing the ball and scoring with it. The Steelers were down 14-7 when a few plays later…

Each team’s defense forced multiple turnovers during the first half. The majority of the 2nd quarter had the teams deadlocked at 14 when the Steelers sustained a drive just before halftime. With seconds to go, Bradshaw connected on his 3rd TD of the half with this pass to Rocky Bleier.

Terry finished the first half with 253 yards with his 3 touchdowns and would become the first QB to throw for over 300 in a Super Bowl. Keep in mind this was the same quarterback that had nearly played his way out of a job in 1974. All the footage of his mistake prone ways as a young player were being extinguished in the mind as he put on this bravura performance in the 1st half.

Up 21-14, the Steel Curtain started to crack as Staubach started to move the ball in the 3rd quarter. Right when they were going to tie the game at 21, Jackie Smith dropped a sure touchdown on a 3rd down forcing them to settle for a field goal and a 21-17 deficit. Dallas, demoralized by the turn of events lost momentum for most of the second half.

After a questionable pass interference put the Steelers on the Cowboys 22, Franco scored on this trap to make it 28-17. We were getting late in the 4th quarter also.

Following an accidental squib kick, DT Randy White mishandled the football and fumbled as he was hit by Tony Dungy. Now the Steelers were poised for the kill at the Dallas 18 yard line.

It was not all over… Although the Steelers led 35-17 with a little more than  6 minutes left in the game, Staubach’s championship mettle shone through. The crack in the Steel Curtain became s fissure as the Cowboys scored twice from 90 and 48 yards out respectively. Yet Pittsburgh held on to win 35-31 and unseated the Cowboys as champions.

super-bowl-logo-1978Super Bowl XIII was a celebration with the two best teams facing off in the big game.  Rarely does that happen. Great games like that to climax the season leave you wanting more but you have to wait until next season to get that fix. To think the NFL’s #2 (Cowboys) and #3 (Steelers) ranked defenses were shredded by 35 and 31 points respectively. No one saw that coming.

Bradshaw was the runaway MVP as he passed for a Super Bowl records for yardage (318) and touchdown passes (4). Much like Ben Roethlisberger today, it was the defense and the running game that carried the QB to his first Super Bowl win. Terry had a good game in his second, Super Bowl X, but it was this one that validated his career and sent him to the Hall of Fame.

It’s impossible to see this championship ring and not think of the Super Bowl game first.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

RIP Coach Noll

RIP Coach Noll

SUPER BOWL X CHAMPIONS 1975 PITTSBURGH STEELERS

At what point do you begin to erase an earlier label that was given to you as a player?  Can you totally overcome a negative stigma associated with that label?  At what point does a team peak with its full talent on display??superbowlx

Just think that only a year and a half earlier, the Steelers were 3-1-1 at midseason, and mired in a quarterback controversy between “Jefferson St” Joe Gilliam and Terry Bradshaw. Pittsburgh won with defense and a running attack in spite of the quarterback. After alternating between the ineffective Gilliam and Bradshaw, Noll finally gave the nod to Bradshaw.

Many speculated Pittsburgh wasn’t ready for a black quarterback. Did you know the 1974 Steelers were the only Super Bowl champion that completed less than 50% of their passes?? Gilliam went 4-1-1 in his starts completing 45.3% of his passes (96 of 212) for 1,242 yards 4TDs and 8 interceptions. Bradshaw finished completing 45.3% of his throws (67 of 148) for 785 yards 7 TDs with 8 interceptions. Terry, having gone 5-2, was sacked more and threw interceptions at a higher rate than Gilliam. So he really never beat him out.

superbowlxblack2After an upset victory in Super Bowl IX established them as league champion, the confident Steelers rolled through the next year with Terry Bradshaw at the helm. The Steelers were led by their famous front four known as the “Steel Curtain”, their powerful running game, and Bradshaw received some credit for being the quarterback of the champs.  Yet the respect afforded the Steelers QB was begrudging and not to the level of previous winners like Unitas, Staubach, Greise, Dawson, Starr, or even Fran Tarkenton who hadn’t won one yet appeared in Super Bowls twice.

The 1975 season began with a first time champion who was one of the youngest teams in football.  They were just developing as a team having come through the ’74 season with 8 rookies on the roster.  They hadn’t hit their peak as a team. Even Bradshaw was just shaking off the bad play that had him labeled as “Lil Abner” and a “dumb” quarterback.

He hadn’t lived up to his billing as the number 1 player in the 1970 draft until now, but with a pair of second year receivers in Swann and Stallworth, they were developing to complement the running game.  The strength of this team was its defense and running game.  Franco Harris again rushed for 1000 yards and the Steelers went 12-2 in the regular season. The Steelers were beginning to become bigger than life with Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Jack Lambert and company.

The patch worn by each team in Super Bowl X.

The patch worn by each team in Super Bowl X.

Bradshaw had improved as a quarterback in 1975 as he emerged as a leader. He completed 57.7% (165 of 286) for 2,055 yards 18 TDs to just 9 picks. Yet his moment finally came in a Super Bowl performance that put him on the level of the quarterbacks who were treated with more acclaim. His stats were good but it was the way he stood strong in the pocket to deliver the game clinching 64 yard touchdown to Lynn Swann while being knocked out.

You could see he knew was going to get clocked as he side stepped Cowboy linebacker DD Lewis and gathered himself to throw deep. Much like present Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is thought of now. He was carried to his first Super Bowl by his teammates. In his second, he validated himself among the great quarterbacks by making the play to win the game.

super-bowl-logo-1975Super Bowl X validated the career of Terry Bradshaw and he didn’t have to look over his shoulder the rest of his career. Two more championship triumphs were to follow and this ring commemorated the Steelers becoming a dynasty. Bradshaw would go on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, however the contributions of “Jefferson St” Joe Gilliam shouldn’t be forgotten.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

This article is dedicated in the memory of Joe Giliam.

SUPER BOWL IX CHAMPION 1974 PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The first NFL championship in 42 years where the game ball was given to Steeler patriarch, the late Art Rooney. It had been a long time coming for all the decades of despair this team had been through. From the war time merging with the Philadelphia Eagles to form the “Steagles”. To the failed ability to recognize quarterback talent by cutting future Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Johnny Unitas. Nothing good had happened for this organization for decades.

Enter Chuck Noll.

superbowlixNoll was hired to be the Head Coach after serving under Don Shula’s Baltimore Colts regime in 1969. His last game with the organization was the loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. By then Noll was defensive coordinator after serving for years as a defensive line coach, most notably with the early 60’s San Diego Chargers in the AFL.

They say the player is the father to the coach a man becomes and Noll had been a lineman in his playing days. So instead of building his team first with a quarterback or featured runner, he drafted defensive tackle Joe Greene. He would build his defensive masterpiece from the ground up. A point often forgotten is the selection of LC Greenwood in the 10th round that same year.

A closer look at the front of the ring.

A closer look at the front of the ring.

In 1970, quarterback Terry Bradshaw was selected as the #1 overall pick. They finally had their quarterback of the future but the chief building block was Noll’s defense and in particular his defensive line. Five years later they were the best in pro football and came to be known as “The Steel Curtain”

Of course the Steelers had the great class of 1974 to put the finishing touch on what would become a football dynasty. However a look back and you can truly see how Pittsburgh’s first NFL championship had AFL roots.

If the AFL hadn’t been around to offer Chuck Noll his first coaching job at the professional level in 1960, would he have been in place to take the Steelers job in 1969?? Also look at the make up of the Steeler team from a draft and racial standpoint. Mining talent from historically black colleges and smaller schools was an AFL trait, not an NFL one. What Noll did in Pittsburgh was recreate the San Diego defensive line of the early 1960s he wasn’t allowed to in Baltimore.Steel_Curtain_Time_Magazine

  • Joe Greene – North Texas St.
  • LC Greenwood – Arkansas AM & N
  • Ernie Holmes – Texas Southern
  • Dwight White – East Texas State

So think of Joe Greene as a latter day Earl Faison or Ernie Ladd who had come from Grambling. By the time we include the late quarterback “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam from Tennessee State, Mel Blount from Southern, and John Stallworth from Alabama A&M, this team resembles the 1965 San Diego Chargers or 1969 Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL more than it did the 1968 Baltimore Colts.

super-bowl-logo-1974Many former players have talked about the racial quota that existed in the NFL back when. Well along with Vince Lombardi and Hank Stram, Chuck Noll broke that system for good and let talent flourish. First the Steelers took $1 million to move in with the AFL teams to form the AFC in 1970 with the league merger. Than Chuck Noll built the best AFL team he could through the draft

In doing so he brought Pittsburgh a championship it so desperately sought. It would not be the last.

RIP Coach Noll

RIP Coach Noll

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

This bauble was what each player and coach received after their 16-6 win vs the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX.

Top Ten Quarterbacks Ever!

The position of quarterback is unique in the sports world. No other position commands more respect, need to process information in a more condensed timeframe, or expected to lead his team with his play and demeanor like that of a quarterback. Point guards in basketball call out the plays but the team is defined by their big men and scoring comes from either forward positions or the shooting guard.  Pitchers share pitch calls with the catcher and the relief pitcher finishes a tight game to help the pitcher get a win.  The quarterback has to do all of these things which include last second touchdown drives in a two-minute drill. He doesn’t get to turn the game over to a reliever.  He is easily the central nervous system of the team and without his efforts they’re paralyzed to move the ball or win.

The greatest quarterbacks ever master all of these qualities.  The art of the pre-snap read, then to decipher what the defense is doing in under 2 seconds and where his teammate are going to be, while making the right throw.  All the while 4 to 5 fire-breathing defenders are closing in to do bodily harm.  So what makes the great ones, who stand amidst the masses, and calmly deliver the football?  There are all time quarterbacks who are winners and championship teams whose quarterback went along for the ride. The all time greats willed their team to victory through their play.  Here is my all time list.

  1.  Joe Montana: First 3 time Super Bowl MVP while quarterbacking 4 Super Bowl Champions in San Francisco. Performed the signature play of a dynasty with “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship. Beginning in 1983 as a starting QB he led 10 straight teams to the playoffs (49ers ‘83-’90, Chiefs 93 & 94). Ushered in the West Coast offense as a staple while leading more than 30 4th quarter come from behind drives.  Had 8 3,000 yard seasons including his last.  Although 1989 was statistically his best season, in 11 games in 1987 he threw for his career high of 31 TDs.  The best.

  2. Johnny Unitas: Frank DeFord once said that “All quarterbacks today are descendants of Johnny Unitas.”  The benchmark every quarterback is still be measured by.  Retired with more than 40,000 yards passing, 3 NFL Championships, a 4th with a Super Bowl III loser.  Engineered the first two minute drill in the last minutes of the 1958 NFL Championship.   His leadership, demeanor, throwing style, and playing style molded the next two generations of youngsters with how the game should be played.  Still holds the equivalent of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak with 47 straight games with a touchdown pass.  I think Unitas feat is greater.  Had 11 seasons with over 2500 yards passing.

  3. Otto Graham and Paul Brown

    Otto Graham: The first quintessential winner who was part of a system (Paul Brown’s) that led Cleveland to 10 straight championship appearances. From 1946-1949 the Cleveland Browns ruled the AAFC winning all for league titles.  Then once merged into the NFL: 1950-1955 the Cleveland Browns were in every championship game winning 3 of them while battling the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Rams.  The first quarterback on a Wheaties Box and Mapo Oatmeal commercials so youngsters could “be like Mike.” Statistics don’t measure the man and what he meant for his football team as a leader.

  4. Brett Favre: Winningest quarterback ever. Embodied the epitome of a gunslinger and was durable. He broke the record of most consecutive starts for a QB in October of 1999 at 114 straight and kept it going until he retired after 2011 with over 290, nearly tripling it. First MVP of the league in 3 consecutive seasons.  He brought the Packer’s franchise out of the doldrums of the NFL and made them winners in Super Bowl XXXI.  Favre threw for a conference record for TD passes with 38 and 39 respectively in 95 and 96. Would go on to throw for the most yards & TDs in history.  A gunslinger from the word go, his first taste of NFL action in 1992, he replaced Don Majkoski and hit Kittrick Taylor with a game winning TD with under a minute to go.  A flair for the dramatic.  Had 1 stretch to begin 1999 where he engineered 4 straight 4th quarter comebacks in successive weeks with under 2 minutes to go.   One of a kind.

  5. Our #4 Brett Favre and #5 Dan Marino

    Dan Marino: A completely transcendent performer with a quick release that burst onto the scene in 1983.  His record breaking year of 1984 was the single greatest passing performance ever.  He shattered the single season record for TDs in a season at 48, blowing by the old record of 36.  He became the first to throw for 5,000 yards in a season.  Also threw for 44TDs in 1986.  His attitude and throwing motion struck fear in defenses for most of his career.   His undermanned Dolphins never won the Super Bowl during his tenure. Went on to throw for 61,000 yards and 420TDs over his career.  His release (on film) was under 9 frames when the typical frame rate for most QBs was 12 – 13.  So when you see film of someone almost sacking him, had they been someone else it would have been. By the way, it was Marino who has the most 4th quarter comebacks at 36 to John Elway’s 34…just so you know.

  6. Tom Brady: A 3-time Super Bowl champion who quarterbacked the Patriots to team of the decade status in the ‘00s.  A technical quarterback with an emotional streak that went from being a serviceable player to one of the best ever. He holds the single season record for TDs at 50, directed the only 16-0 regular season, and still in his prime can achieve another milestone or two.  Entering the latter stages in his career and still writing his history.

  7. Terry Bradshaw: The number one draft pick in 1970 who became the first 4 time Super Bowl winner and MVP of the 13th and 14th editions.  He led the Steelers to 4 championships in 6 years.  Had a rocket arm and was a tough runner early in his career.  Became a more complete quarterback as the Steelers attack took to the air in 1978 with the rules changes.  Played big in big games.  He iced Super Bowl IX with a TD to Larry Brown and had his first 300 yard game in Super Bowl XIII while setting the TD pass record in Super Bowl’s at 4.  Held the Super Bowl record for longest TD (to Stallworth75 yards) and nearly matched it with a game winning TD pass to Stallworth at 73yds in Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams.

  8. Roger Staubach: Tremendous quarterback who began as a scrambler, evolved into a true pocket passer and retired as the highest rated quarterback ever in 1979.  Was efficient and led the Cowboys to 8 playoff appearances in 9 years. A fearless leader who brought Dallas from behind 23 times in the final two minutes or in overtime.  Roger the Dodger morphed into Captain Comeback and was one of sport’s biggest icons.

  9. John Elway: The rocket arm quarterback who brashly demanded a trade before he ever played a game.  The heir to Staubach’s comeback mantle by producing 30 wins in the final two minutes or in overtime. Produced some of the most breathtaking drives in playoff history.  Passed for numerous 3,000 yard seasons and won a record 5 conference championships including 2 Super Bowl championships.  Had one of the strongest arms in NFL history and the architect of 34 4th quarter comebacks and many of the breath taking variety.

  10.  Steve Young: Greatest left hander in history.  Replaced Joe Montana and led the NFL in passer rating 4 straight years, made 3 NFC Championships, and won one Super Bowl during that era.  He went on to set a record for passing efficiency in 1994 and led the 49ers to the playoffs 7 straight seasons and 4 berths in the NFC Championship Game.  He was also a fearless and rugged runner.  A weapon that allowed the 49ers to play offense 11 on 11 since teams rarely account for the quarterback.   Saved many drives with his ability to run. 

So who’s your top ten?!?!