ART ROONEY ON TERRY BRADSHAW 1971
The Steelers are the second choice of just about every owner in the business to win a National Football League title.
"If we can't do it I'd like to see Rooney get one." That's the sentiment and an understandable one if you know the owner of the Pittsburgh football club. He is a kind, friendly man who would rather be asked for a favour than accept one.
Now Rooney thinks he might have a shot at the crown. The reason, of course, is the presence of one Terry Bradshaw on the Pittsburgh squad.
"It was great to get Terry," he declared.
"He's as fine a man as we've had in the Steelers organisation since we landed Whizzer White." The White referred to, of course, now is Justice Byron White of the United States Supreme Court.
"Bradshaw is wholesome," says Art. "He is unassuming and modest and will rank with the great sportsmen in the game if he stays that way. And I'm sure he will."
Rooney recalled how he personally was sold on the All America quarterback from Louisiana Tech. Terry was the first man to go in the 1970 draft when the Steelers had their choice of the entire collegiate crop.
"He was touted, all right," grins Rooney, "by the race track touts. And if you can't trust the people around the race tracks who can you trust?
Our scouts all raved about Bradshaw. The football writers were the same. But we had been burned before on people getting rave notices.
Then I was down in New Orleans to see some of my horses run. They aren't very fast but it's fun to watch them. So I'm at the race track and all of my railbird friends are talking about football.
They tell me I've got to see this big, blond kid. The mutual clerks even forget about racing when his name is mentioned. The grooms like him. The owners and trainers keep mentioning him.
One big man at the track says this football player is like Man O' War. By that he meant he was the best and nobody could even be ranked second. The fellow says that Bradshaw has so much raw talent it would scare me.
Then I went home to Pittsburgh. I told them what I'd heard and that we'd better think pretty seriously about Bradshaw. After all no one ever fools those old hard boots from the race track."
Chuck Noll, the Pittsburgh coach and his staff, already pretty much had made up their minds, of course. The only question was about the possibility of swapping the first draft choice for a package of tested professionals.
The decision finally was that Bradshaw was too valuable to pass up. And in this second year they hope that he will prove this was a correct decision.
Terry, of course, is only the most recent on a long line of athletes Rooney had come to know during his many years around the sports scene.
Possibly his favourite was a fellow named Johnny Blood, now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His real tag is John McNally but he took a name of "Blood" one day when he saw a movie sign advertising a picture called "Blood and Sand."
Blood and Whizzer White certainly were unlike in style, temperament and just about every way but they got along great as members of the Steelers. In fact, it wasn't too many years ago that White escorted Blood to a White House reception when the late John F. Kennedy was president. The chief executive and Blood spent most of the afternoon talking football.
Rooney has had a good life from sports and particularly football. That one big prize - the championship - has eluded him, however. He's still hoping, though, and with the aid of one Terry Bradshaw his dream just might come true.
(from the official Pro! programme from October 10th 1971
at Cleveland Stadium, written by Chuck Heaton)
Editor's note: Terry Bradshaw led the Steelers to their four Super Bowl triumphs of the seventies that saw Art Rooney rewarded for his interest in the blond kid.
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