LAYNE AND LIPSCOMB ARE GONE
- BUT STEELERS TOUGH AS EVER
Two of the most well known and respected figures in pro football-Bobby Layne and Gene (Big Daddy) Lipscomb-are missing from the Pittsburgh Steelers' lineup this autumn. It would take some teams a number of years to recover from such dents in their offensive and defensive armor, but the Steelers seem to be surviving nicely, thank you.
The death of Lipscomb, a genuine shocker, was looked upon by many as a mortal blow to Pittsburgh's backbone. Tough, rugged defensive line play has been the hallmark of Steeler teams for years and Lipscomb made it that much tougher after hauling his 290 pounds over from Baltimore.
Coach Buddy Parker's move to plug the gaping hole left by Lipscomb was to obtain Lou Cordileone from the Los Angeles Rams. Cordileone was New York's first round draft choice in 1960, but the former Clemson standout never really seemed to fulfill his promise-at least not until this year.
The Giants swapped him to San Francisco in 1961 and last summer the 49ers moved him along to the Rams. But if the Steelers' line was any less difficult to penetrate with Cordileone at right tackle, it wasn't noticeable to the Browns in their unhappy first meeting with Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame game at Canton last month.
There is another important factor that shouldn't be overlooked, too. The Steelers never once had their stout linebacking corps intact a year ago. But with that unit at full strength, the defense against rushing becomes that much better without Big Daddy.
Myron Pottios, the middle man, fractured an arm in pre-season and never did return last year. And at various times during the autumn he had the company of ailing John Reger, George Tarasovic and Bob Schmitz on the sidelines.
Pittsburgh was expected to miss Layne's leadership qualities more than his waning passing talents this season. The blond Texan's throwing had been falling off in recent years and Parker finally publicly stated last winter that Layne should call it a career. That brought a howl from Bobby, but he finally agreed a few months later.
Layne was one of the best in the business over the long haul of 15 pro years with Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh. He completed nearly half of his 3,700 throws for 26,721 yards (just over five miles) and a record 196 touchdowns. But Pittsburgh fans, loud if not large in numbers, climbed on his back and dug in the spurs last year with the charge that Layne stuck to the ground attack too much and passed mostly out of desperation. They rapped his play calling as unimaginative and where have we heard that before?
Anyhow, rambunctious Bobby moved out and veteran quarterback Ed Brown moved in. It was Brown who guided the Chicago Bears to their last National Football League western division title in 1956 and to second place finishes behind Baltimore in 1958 and '59.
The Steelers still depend more on the running of John Henry Johnson, Dick Hoak, Bob Ferguson and Tom Tracy, but Brown has been mixing in some passing quite well.
And as much of a scoring threat as any of 'em is Lou Michaels and his left foot. Michaels set an NFL record last year with 26 field goals an( finished second only to Green Bay's Jim Taylor in scoring with 110 points.
Yes, the Steelers are as tough as ever-even without Lipscomb and Layne.
Photos and information from the programme for October 5th 1963.