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The Steelers 1978 Season Begins Here>>>

JOHN BANASZAK OR STEVE FURNESS TO START AGAINST THE OILERS?

Fortunately for Steelers defensive coordinator George Perles, the team has depth at defensive tackle. John Banaszak had started the last six games while Steve Furness had been healthy only for a week.

Four-year veteran Banaszak began the season as backup to Furness. A freak accident during the warm up for the season opener when Ted Petersen stepped on his ankle saw second year Tom Beasley replace Furness.

The following week, Banaszak started and showed sufficient prowess to retain the position while Furness was recovering. Now Furness was fit to play, Coach Noll emphasised, “We have two starters.”

The position is not an easy one for either player. Furness admits, “They haven’t told me anything, but I have to get back in there,” while Banaszak acknowledges, “It hasn’t exactly been a happy relationship. It’s been hard on both of us. We both have our feelings.”

Coach Noll is now faced with a dilemma. Does he change a defense that is first in total defense in the AFC and second against the run? They have 24 sacks and have allowed opponents just over 100 yards rushing a game.

Banaszak was expecting to play. “I think I deserve that,” he explained. “But, on the other hand, Steve deserves to play too. It’s really amazing that the situation would be like this. Steve finally had a job coming into camp and something like this had to happen.”

ohn Banaszak copyright Pittsburgh Steelers
John Banaszak copyright Pittsburgh Steelers

OILERS CEMENT THEIR RUNNING GAME

A cement driver who drove every day to an apartment complex being built near the Oilers offices walked in and asked a secretary if he could see Coach Phillips about a tryout. The secretary went and told the coach about the request and perhaps his sense of humour took over when he invited the driver into his office.

“You’re kidding,” quipped Phillips, but he went along with the joke and gave the driver a tryout. After he ran a 4.5 40, Coach Phillips decided it wasn’t a joke and Johnnie Durden will line up against the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

“Everybody kept saying, ‘You’re kidding,’ the whole time I was there,” Durden told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The would be NFL wide receiver dropped out of high school in his senior year to get a job because his parents were ill.

Four years later, he enrolled at Sam Houston State University because his wife was enrolled on a music scholarship. “My friends told me I was crazy to try to go to college, play football and support a family,” Durden acknowledged. “They said I couldn’t do it. They were right.” After two years, he dropped out and worked various jobs until he found the one with the cement company where he earns $5.10 an hour.

He didn’t leave football entirely behind, playing semi-pro and once received a cheque for $7. Playing pro football was just a dream, but he has now earned his shot. “I thought I had potential, but I didn’t think I could play pro football,” he accepted. “My wife kept saying, ‘You can do it’” On impulse, he walked into the Oilers office.

“It’s fantastic, I just can’t believe it,” Durden said. “I’m so excited that they have to tie me down with a rope when we go out on the field because I’m so hyper.” He is be part of the Oilers special teams, running back kick returns and has averaged 28.2 yards on 14 kicks.

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This site last updated May 16th 2018.

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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