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HISTORY INDEX | THIRTIES PIRATES | FORTIES STEELERS | FIFTIES STEELERS | SIXTIES STEELERS

The Steelers 1979 season begins here>>>

GREG HAWTHORNE STILL SIDELINED

“You don’t want to see anyone injured,” explained Coach Noll, talking about the Steelers first round draft pick. “You have to roll with these things. We don’t know when he’ll be ready to run. We want to give him complete rest and see what happens. He pulled a hamstring shortly before our mini camp but wanted to keep playing. But it’s like having a cut. If you keep picking at it, it won’t heal.”

Hawthorne understood what his inactivity meant. “Every day I miss, I’m getting that much further behind. I’m not a vet or an older guy who can get hurt and not have to worry about picking up the system.

I need to be down with the rest of the guys, but when I do go back, I don’t want it to happen all over again.”

ROOKIES BRING SMILES TO 1979 TRAINING CAMP

While the Steelers had to deal with a rash of injuries in the first week of training camp, some of their thirty rookies were ensuring Coach Noll and his coaches were still smiling.

Larry Douglas, a receiver out of Southern and Rick Kirk, a defensive end from Denison were displaying skills that coaches were keen to see in camp. Kirk exhibited quickness and a nose for the ball while Douglas was fast off the line.

“Kirk looked pretty good over there in your drills, didn’t he,” Coach Noll inquired of George Perles who was now the team's assistant head coach.

“He sure did,” confirmed Perles. “My, he’s awful quick and he’s always around the ball,” added Perles. “That’s the difference. A lot of people are quick, but they don’t know where the ball is. Kirk knows where it is all the time.”
“That’s what we want,” a smiling Noll acknowledged. “People who know where the ball is.”

Defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer spent time tutoring the Steelers second choice in the draft, 220-pound linebacker Zack Valentine. Widenhofer showed a lot of patience with the rookie who was hesitant in covering his man.

“Control him. Control him,” shouted Widenhofer to encourage Valentine to handle the receiver rather than allowing the receiver to gain the upper hand. “If you don’t control him,” he’s going to control you,” explained the coach.

CUNNINGHAM NOT SLOWING DOWN

Of the veterans in camp, tight end Bennie Cunningham (pictured left signing autographs at camp) showed no signs of slowing down despite undergoing surgery during the off-season for an injured knee. Cunningham had entered camp with the rookies to take advantage of early drills.

Robin Cole, the team’s first round draft pick in 1977 was also returning after surgery. Cole played all the 1978 season with a broken arm. A calcium deposit that formed over the break hid the damage from X-rays. Every time he made a hit, Cole felt pain, but doctors put that down to a nerve resting on the calcium.

After the Super Bowl, the player underwent surgery to remove the calcium deposit and the doctors discovered the break hadn’t healed. A bone graft was performed to correct the problem.

Cunningham and Cole went head-to-head for the Oklahoma Drill. “It always seems to be me and Bennie one-on-one,” said Cole. “I guess we always know it’s going to be me and him. We enjoy it.”
Both players came out of the drill with no ill effects giving Coach Noll more cause to smile.

 

 

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The Steelers 1979 season updated August 16th 2019.

Ben's early Steelers games.

The Steelers 1977 season in full.
The Steelers 1976 season in full.

The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

The Pittsburgh Americans added August 2015.

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