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The Steelers 1979 season begins here>>>

Stallworth Picked as Steelers’ MVP

John Stallworth media photoWhen John Stallworth was an oft-injured, 6-2, 172-pound receiver in his first two years at Alabama A&M, a few of his teammates questioned whether football was really his game.

“They thought I should try something less physical, like basketball or track,” Stallworth says with a smile.
But he persevered. He went on to make it in both the college and pro ranks. He has become so successful that yesterday his teammates gave him the ultimate accolade.

On the threshold of having the best season for a wide receiver in Steeler history, Stallworth was voted the Steelers 1979 Most Valuable Player award.

He follows in the footsteps of Terry Bradshaw, who won it the last two seasons. Other winners were Roy Jefferson (1969), Joe Greene (1970), Andy Russell (1971), Franco Harris (1972), Ron Shanklin (1973), Glen Edwards (1974), Mel Blount (1975) and Jack Lambert (1976).

“What can I say?” Stallworth asked with a grin. “I’m really happy.”

“A lot of cliches come to mind,” Stallworth added. “It’s a team game and I couldn’t have done it without them. I like to stay away from cliches, but this time they are appropriate. The greatest thing in a team sport is the recognition of your peers, the guys that know your faults and weaknesses and your strong points. When they think you’re good enough, it makes the work and the sacrifices even more gratifying.”

It was never easy for Stallworth, who has caught 63 passes and needs just five more to break Roy Jefferson’s record of 67. The third Steelers to gain 1,000 yards receiving, he needs 216 yards in the last two games to break Buddy Dial’s record of 1,295 set in 1963 – although Dial did it in a 14-game season. Stallworth has also set a team record by catching passes in 41 consecutive games.

Stallworth, who now weighs 183 pounds, overcame ankle and shoulder injuries in his first two college years to become the Steelers’ fourth-round drafts pick in 1974. His career was on a treadmill for the next four years because of nagging leg injuries. He did not become a full-time starter until last year.

The irony is that Stallworth thinks his leg problems were the result of working too hard in the off-season. “I was so enthused and keyed up to be in super shaped that I was in mid-season form at the beginning of the year, but I was running myself down by the end of the year,” he said. “Now, I try to build up gradually in the off-season.

Stallworth does not regret that it took so long for him to live up to his potential. “I used to be down and there were some very low points, but I never gave up. It all boils down to the will of the Lord. He saw that I needed to be strengthened and to grow in certain ways. Some people jump into prosperity, but I’m happy it turned out this way.”

Stallworth moved into the limelight this year when Lynn Swann was late coming to camp, then was injured twice. He made the most of the opportunity, becoming the number one receiver. He has been so impressive that Bradshaw made a special effort to get Swann back into the offense.

Stallworth says he never wanted to be somewhere where he probably could have stepped into the number one slot right away.

“I wanted to make it happen in Pittsburgh,” he says. “If I’d left, it would have been a cop out. That would have been saying my ability wasn’t good enough to make it in Pittsburgh, that I had to go to a team that didn’t have as much talent.

Now that he is certain to make the Pro Bowl for the first time, Stallworth is not relaxing.

“When you have certain goals and you reach them, you set new ones,” he said. “You want to be consistent over the long run. This is the first year that things happened. You want your personal goals to parallel the team goals if you’re going to have a ‘illustrious’ career.

Stallworth is definitely on his way to that kind of career.

Vito Stellino
Post-Gazette December 7


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The Steelers 1979 season updated November 28th 2020.

Ben's early Steelers games.

The Pittsburgh Americans' 1936 season added June 2020.

The Steelers 1978 season in full.
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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