The 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers playoffs


SteelersUK>>>

JOE GREENE THINKS ABOUT RETIREMENT

Joe Greene media photoJoe Greene told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that retiring had crossed his mind. The seven year vet admitted, “My body has taken a helluva beating.” Greene was a player who had not missed a game until this season.

A pinched nerve in his neck and a pulled groin muscle have taken their toll and Greene hasn’t started for five regular season games and wasn’t expected to for the playoff game against the Colts.

Greene confirmed he was still hungry for more victories though. “One Super Bowl isn’t enough. Once you’ve been in a Super Bowl, you want to go again and again and again and again.”

Those thoughts about playing in Super Bowls wipe out any early retirement thoughts. “I’m not a foolish person. I might not be as good as I was two or three years ago. I have less years in front of me than I have behind me. I have given some thought to retirement, but I haven’t dwelled on it. I’m a one job at a time person. Maybe I can play for seven more years.”

Greene doesn’t view his current aches and pains as injuries. “I’m not injured. I’m just not functioning. It’s nothing like a bad knee or a broken leg.”

To get to another Super Bowl, the Steelers have to get passed Baltimore first and then onto the Championship game. “We’ve reached the stage where we can almost reach out and touch it,” Greene enthused.

Although the Colts were big underdogs, they had won nine straight and Greene acknowledged, “They belong in the ball park.” That was Greene’s way of saying the Colts deserved to be in the playoffs.

“Some teams we play here are in the river before the game starts”, Greene added.” Not the Colts. They belong in the ball park.”

Looking back to the early years when he joined coach Noll in Pittsburgh, Greene acknowledged, “The defeats were part of our growing pains. We had a design then too. Sometimes it turned out to be something like pot luck. We’re a class team now. We have fibre and substance. Those are the coach’s words.”

1975 AFC Playoff Game: The Pittsburgh Steelers (12-2) vs the Baltimore Colts (10-4)

The Steelers began this playoff game badly, fumbling the opening kickoff and then, after stopping the Colts, John Banaszak ran into their kicker with the subsequent penalty allowing Baltimore to continue their drive.

Despite the seven-point lead Pittsburgh took after an 8-yard touchdown run from Franco Harris in the first quarter, the Steelers continued to be mistake prone. Their competence was inhibited by a knee injury in the second quarter to Terry Bradshaw that restricted his mobility.

In that second period, Terry Bradshaw threw an interception that Lloyd Mumphord returned 58 yards to the Steeler 19. Even though the Colts had earlier lost their starting quarterback, his replacement Marty Domres finished a two-play drive with a touchdown reception of five yards to Glenn Doughty.

In the third period, the Steelers offense stumbled on their first series and fumbled the lead to the Colts on the second possession. A fumble from Harris on the Steeler 19 resulted in just a 21-yard field goal as the Steeler defense began to dominate their opponents, compensating for their bungling offense.

With the Colts now 10-7 ahead, history suggested the Steelers would not pull back the deficit. In the Steelers’ six previous playoff games, they had never come back to win after their opponents had taken a lead in the second half.

L.C. Greenwood ignited his team with a hit on the Colts’ running back, Lydell Mitchell. Although the hit resulted in a loss of just two yards, it gave the Colts a 3rd-and-9 and then five more yards were added after an offside penalty.

Looking at a pass situation, the Steelers turned to their four-linebacker prevent defense with safeties Mike Wagner and Glen Edwards and corner Mel Blount all playing deep.

Domres attempted a pass to his receiver in front of Blount, but the Steelers’ corner stepped in front and snatched his twelfth interception of the year and returned it 20 yards to Baltimore’s seven. “I don’t think he expected me to react as quick as I did, but he had to force the ball because he got a lot of pressure,” Blount later explained.

Rocky Bleier’s seven-yard touchdown run put the Steelers back in front, but the offense still struggled. Harris fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone to squander another opportunity to put the game away.

In the final quarter, Bradshaw’s 2-yard touchdown run extended their lead before the Steelers’ defense came up trumps again with Andy Russell’s 93-yard cross country fumble recovery in the final two minutes.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 28 vs the Baltimore Colts 10
Three Rivers Stadium, December 27 1975; 49,053

Passing: Bradshaw 8-13-103

Rushing: Harris 27-153, Bradshaw 3-22, Bleier 12-28, Collier 1-8

Receiving: Lewis 3-65, Swann 2-15, Bleier 2-14, L. Brown 1-9

“One thing you can say about this team,” said Mel Blount. “We don’t panic. It’s the mark of a championship team.”

Dwight White noted, “We stayed poised and calm and did the things we do best all year. I wasn’t terribly worried. We’ve overcome adversity. That’s the characteristic of this team.”

“It’s great to know you can play that badly and still come out on top,” added Ray Mansfield. “That’s the difference in us now and in the old days.”

Coach Noll on Franco Harris, whose 153 yards were an all-time playoff  high, “He did what he does – run over people when they get in his way.

1975 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

Last year, the title game between these two teams went to the Steelers 23-14. Holding the Raiders to 29 yards on 21 carries, the Steelers then went on to their first Super Bowl.

Looking ahead to this season’s game, Raiders’ running back, Marv Hubbard, offered, “In my opinion, they have the best defense in football right now. It looks bigger and stronger than it did last year. They had to improve. Lambert is no longer a rookie. And they had the kind of defense that makes things happen. They always seem to get those big plays.”

Hubbard believes the Raiders can overcome the Steelers. “The playoffs are a crapshoot,” he said. “You don’t get there if you don’t have a good team. We just need a little more luck this time.”

Reflecting on the previous year’s loss, Hubbard offered, “I can still remember the feeling after that game, the exhibition season, the regular season and then get the door slammed on you in the playoffs. And you realise you have to go through it all again before you even get another chance.”

The Steelers went into the game as favourites by seven points. Jimmy the Greek explained why - three points for the home team, one point for Franco Harris, one for the defense, one for the astro turf.

1975 AFC Championship Game: The Pittsburgh Steelers vs the Oakland Raiders

The city of Pittsburgh was covered with a blanket of snow before the Championship game and it was enough to send a chill up the Raiders spine as the Steelers defense dominated the sixty minutes. 15 degrees and a 20 mph wind produced a -10 wind chill factor and the football suffered, apart from the home defense.

The Raiders took the initial offensive strides, but came up against an aggressive defense that controlled the opening exchanges. Oakland’s first four series moved them to the Steelers’ 42, 30, 21 and 34-yard lines but they came away empty handed.

Pittsburgh found it difficult to produce any offense and at the half, only Roy Gerela’s 36-yard field goal separated the teams. The score was set up by a Mike Wagner interception.

Of the inclement conditions, Terry Bradshaw observed, “The elements were the big factor. It was slippery and we were frozen. I was losing the feeling in my fingers.”

George Atkinson’s hit on Lynn Swann caused an interception in the third quarter as both teams found it difficult to produce any offense. In the third quarter, Swann was knocked out of the game by Atkinson going for a pass reception.

The first play of the final period saw Clarence Davis fumble and Jack Lambert recover. The next play saw Franco Harris sprung loose by John Stallworth’s block on Jack Tatum and he finished his 25-yard run with a touchdown.

The Raiders hit straight back with a six-play drive of 60 yards completed by a Mike Siani 14-yard touchdown completion.

With twelve minutes left and Oakland in possession, L.C. Greenwood tackled Marv Hubbard and J.T. Thomas stripped the ball loose for Lambert to recover at the Oakland 25.

On the second play of the series, Bradshaw threw a pass to John Stallworth, who was covered by Neal Colzie. The Oakland defensive back slipped on ice and Stallworth’s pulled in a 20-yard touchdown. Bobby Walden mishandled the high snap and the extra point failed, Steelers led 16-7.

With 9:31 remaining, the Steelers began to lose their grip on the ball and nearly the game. Rocky Bleier fumbled first, but the Raiders were forced to punt. Three minutes later, a fumble from Harris fumbled presented Oakland with another opportunity.

With 17 seconds left, in an attempt to conserve time and provide his team with an opportunity to recover an onside kick, John Madden sent in George Blanda to kick a 41-yard field goal.

On the kickoff, Reggie Harrison muffed the kick catch and Marv Hubbard recovered. Ken Stable completed a pass to Cliff Branch, but Mel Blount made sure his tackle at the Steelers’ 15 was inbounds and the clock ran down to zero.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 16 vs the Oakland Raiders 10
Three Rivers Stadium, January 4th 1976; 49,103

Jack Ham, Andy Russell and Jack Lambert media photo

Passing: Bradshaw 8-13-103

Rushing: Harris 27-79, Bradshaw 2-22, Bleier 10-16

Receiving: Swann 2-45, Lewis 1-33, Swann 2-45, L. Brown 1-13, Grossman 4-36

“I worried the whole game,” said coach Noll, before praising his defense. “Dwight White was magnificent… Andy Russell made great plays… Jack Lambert was outstanding… Ernie Holmes was…” Just then coach Noll ran out of adjectives.

“I tell you gentlemen, I was shaking from the time I walked on that field until I walked off,” was the way Fats Holmes summed up the situation with Oakland in possession and seven seconds remaining.

Jack Lambert, who set a playoff record with three fumble recoveries, said “My heart was beating pretty good in those last 25 seconds. A lot of people didn’t realise how close we were to losing.”

“I’ve never actually minded playing in the cold,” Lambert added. “Actually, I think it’s all in your mind. You condition yourself to block out the weather factor and just concentrate on what you’re doing out there.”

PITTSBURGH’S GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL

Three days after the Steelers won their second AFC Championship game, 12,000 Super Bowl tickets went on sale to season ticket holders at $20. 4 night packages in Miami, including flights and hotels, were advertised for $362.

Chuck Noll began watching tapes of their opponents, the Dallas Cowboys, the day after their win and two days later was due in Mobile Alabama to scout the college stars playing in the Senior Bowl.

The Steelers cut Preston Pearson preseason. He was picked up by the Cowboys and contributed to their regular season with 509 yards rushing, caught 27 passes for 351 yards, and gained another 391 yards on kickoff returns. In their defeat of the Rams in the NFC Championship game, Pearson scored three touchdowns and caught 7 passes for 123 yards.

HAMMING IT UP JACK?

Jack Ham media photoDespite being viewed as the best left linebacker in the business, Jack Ham is not too enthralled by it all. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggested Ham is a low key guy who subtly avoids the limelight by putting himself down.

While he obviously enjoys playing pro ball, he can barely comprehend all the mystique attached to it. “It’s a crazy sport,” he told the Post-Gazette. “I can’t see why it’s such an obsession. But I guess we’re entertainers and it’s an outlet for a lot of people. But I don’t think that much of it.”

His early sports career was marked by the fact he was a bit slow and small. He was cut three straight years by the basketball coach in high school at Johnstown and insists he made the high school football team only because they didn’t cut anybody.

Ham was not even a starter and played in the shadow of his brother, who was the captain of the football team.  “I guess the only reason I didn’t quit  was that I didn’t want to quit anything,” he said. Football wasn’t one of his favourite activities. It wasn’t until he moved to linebacker in his senior year that he even found himself enjoying it.

He wasn’t overwhelmed with offers of college scholarships, but he was fortunate to obtain one for Penn state. “It was one of those last minute things. I didn’t get it until May. I think they had an extra one somebody had turned down,” he smiled.

It was in his first year that he first got the idea he was a player. “They had all those high school All-Americans and I could see that maybe I was as good as they were.”

Ham said it helped that he had nothing to live up to. “It was a lot easier for me because I hadn’t been successful before. The hardest times were for those guys who came in with big buildups and then it caught up with them. They might have been star running backs and then they became second string linemen,” he added.

The big lift for Ham came after the first day of spring football drills in his freshman year when Joe Paterno suddenly listed him as a first string linebacker. “Confidence was my big problem and I don’t know if Joe saw that or what, but it really gave me a big lift.”

His performances for Penn State saw the Steelers use their second round pick on him in the 1971 draft.

LOOKING AHEAD TO SUPER BOWL X

After a thrilling sixth game in the World Series, sports fans were looking for the same from the Super Bowl, a game that would reach the heights in excitement. The NFL image makers would be hoping for nothing less. When pressed on the question, coach Noll replied, “I am not the entertainment director.”

As a native Texan, Joe Greene thought the game against Dallas could be an exciting one. “Number ten might just be something special,” he volunteered. “It probably couldn’t have been a better matchup. It might be something to remember.”

Recalling the drama of the World Series, Greene added, “They had two dynamite teams playing exciting ball. It was really emotional.” He thought a Steelers-Cowboys match offered the same ingredients.

THE VIEW FROM DALLAS

Dallas folk thought that champion Pittsburgh will be going in with an inflated ego and the Cowboys will kick their tails in as they did Minnesota and Los Angeles in the playoffs.

Looking back to final game of the 1975 preseason when they knocked him out, the Dallas defense believe they can stop Franco Harris.

STEELERS ARRIVE IN MIAMI

The Steelers left snowy Pittsburgh on the Monday before Super Sunday to arrive in sunny, warm Miami.

“The men are in good shape,” confirmed coach Noll after the plane had landed. “All they have to do is loosen up a little to get physically set for the game.”

“We respect the Cowboys and don’t underrate them,” said Joe Greene, before adding with a smile, “But, we’re going to beat them.”

STEVE FURNESS TO SPLIT TIME WITH JOE GREENE

Steve Furness media photoFour days before the big game, coach Noll announced that Steve Furness (picture left) would split playing time at defensive tackle with Joe Greene against the Cowboys. It was such a surprise, suggested the Pittsburgh post-Gazette, that even Furness was sceptical.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Furness, who had been disappointed not to have been on the field for the Championship game, even for one play. Greene had played the entire game after sitting out most of the second half of the season with a pinched nerve in his neck and a pulled groin muscle.

Noll suggested that the humid Miami weather would sap Greene’s strength and inhibit him from playing the entire game, although the suspicion remained that Noll thought Furness deserved his chance to play in the big game.

Furness practiced the week before last year’s Super Bowl and was expecting to start in place of Dwight White, who spent the week in a hospital bed. Defying the odds, White climbed out of his hospital bed to contribute to the Steelers’ victory.

“Nothing can ever be as frustrating as last year,” offered Furness. “I just hope that’s right,” Furness commented on Noll’s announcement.

Greene said he wouldn’t hesitate to come out of the game if he found himself getting tired. “I wouldn’t put Joe Greene ahead of winning. The goal is to win.”

Coach Noll also suggested there was a chance that Furness could give Dwight White, L.C. Greenwood and Fats Holmes a breather if necessary. “The fact he can play all four positions has helped and he has made a great contribution to our team,” Noll confirmed.

THE DALLAS VIEW

Tom Landry, the Dallas coach, labelled the mid-September acquisition of former Steeler running back Preston Pearson as the best thing to happen to the team all season.

In the NFC Championship game, Pearson scored three touchdowns and caught 7 passes for 123 yards in the defeat of the Rams.

Landry suggested that Pearson was more effective with the Cowboys than he was with the Steelers because of the different kinds of offense the teams use.

Pearson described his former teammates as tough. “Everybody asks me whether or not I’m really up for playing against Pittsburgh. I don’t think anybody likes to play against them. They’re a rugged ball club. They know what they are doing all the time.

But, if we play the kind of game against them as we did against the Rams, we’ll win.”

“We might get beat, but nobody is going to intimidate us,” said the Cowboys veteran linebacker Lee Roy Jordan. Nobody has so far. Why the Steelers?

The Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach is very respectful of Chuck Noll’s team. “The Steelers are the champions and they are here because they have excellent personnel and fine coaching,” Staubach said. “You don’t get to the Super Bowl only having one of those important items; you have to have both.”

“The key to our success is our defensive play,” commented coach Landry. “If we can stop them and not fall behind, we have a chance to do some of the things we plan.

If Franco runs well against us, we’ll be in real trouble.”

“Before you can win, you have to not lose it,” said coach Noll.

 

ART ROONEY

Art Rooney media photoAlthough pro football had entered the age of computers and millionaire athletes, Art Rooney remained as close to his players as he was in the 1930s when he was a hungry young hustler and the game was a seat-of-the-pants operation.

“In some ways I’m closer to the players now,” he told the Pittsburgh Press. “Everything’s together here.” A wave of the hand takes in the bustling Steeler complex in Three Rivers Stadium. Office personnel work there; coaches plot; players practice or just hang around. And Art Rooney proudly oversees what he and his sons have wrought.

The setup is light years away from the early days when the colourful, but usually inept, teams operated and practiced out of an old house in South Park. The game then was not the exercise in precision that the Steelers will perform in Super Bowl X.

“A lot of the stars of the old days couldn’t play this game now,” Rooney noted. “And a lot of them today couldn’t have played that type of game.”

A deep source of pride are the contributions of his sons to the Steelers’ transformation from perennial loser to a powerhouse.

“There are a number of reasons,” Rooney added. “The coach gets much of the credit. And then my boys Danny and Artie.”

Dan Rooney, president, runs the Steelers now; he built the team that won Super Bowl IX. Art Jr., vice president, has made the scouting one of the best in pro football.

Art Rooney, legend, couldn’t ask for anything more.

THE DALLAS VIEW

“I don’t care what people think,” said Lee Roy Johnson of Dallas, “we can win this one. It’s going to take a hell of an effort, but I think we can do it. There’s no reason why we can’t.

So what if we are the underdog? I love being in that position. The Steelers are the ones under the gun. If they win, everybody will say they should have. It they lose, everybody will say they fell apart at the seams; that they couldn’t take the pressure.”

The Cowboys’ safety Cliff Harris suggested, “We spend a lot of time concentrating on the quarterback. We can’t take our frustration out on him when he drops back to pass. When he crosses the line… that’s another story.

If our strategy works, we’ll contain him. That will be easier on me, really. And on him too.”

Super Bowl X
The Pittsburgh Steelers vs the Dallas Cowboys

The opening kickoff showed the Steelers that it wasn’t going to be easy to become the third team to accomplish back to back Super Bowl wins. Dallas surprised them on the run back with a reverse. Roy Gerela was forced to make the tackle that ended the run and it was the probable cause of the bruised ribs that affected his kicking game.

To follow that revers, Bobby Walden fumbled a snap on a punt handing good field position to Dallas on the Steelers’ 29. One play later, Drew Pearson pulled in Roger Staubach’s pass and ran 12 yards to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

Still in the first quarter, the Steelers came back with Terry Bradshaw guiding his team to an 8-play drive of 67 yards, kept alive by Lynn Swann’s leaping catch in coverage, and finished by Randy Grossmann’s 7-yard touchdown catch.

In the second quarter, only a Dallas field goal of 36 yards separated the teams as they extended that 10-7 lead into the final period when Gerela missed two field goal attempts for Pittsburgh.

After the second miss, Gerela was the object of some Dallas taunting as Cliff Harris waved the ball in his face. Jack Lambert then defended his teammate by trying to “unscrew Harris’ head from his shoulders” in the words of the Pittsburgh Press.

With the result in the balance, the Steelers produced the play of the game. With the Cowboys punting on a fourth and 13 from their own 16, the Steelers decided to go for a blocked punt.

Instead of dropping back as he would normally, Dave Brown lined up to create a 10-man rush for the Steelers. When Dallas didn’t adjust, it opened up the play for Harrison to crash through to block Mitch Hoopes’ punt out of the end zone. The safety gave two points and the momentum to the Steelers.

From the ensuing kickoff, the Steelers added three points from the boot of Gerela with his field goal of 36 yards to take the lead. On the first play of the Cowboys’ next series, Mike Wagner intercepted a Staubach pass and Gerela kicked another field goal, this one from 18 yards.

The Steelers defense held the Cowboys on their next series and three plays later, the Steelers increased extended their lead.

Under extreme pressure as Dallas gambled on a safety blitz, Bradshaw hung up a pass. Bradshaw was taken down and never saw the 64-yard completion to Swann (picture left) who took it in for a touchdown. With less than three minutes remaining and the Steelers 21-10 ahead, Bradshaw left the field.

Dallas tried to fight back. Beginning a drive on their own twenty, Staubach completed three straight passes before a sack momentary halted their progress. His next pass connected to Percy Howard for a 34-yard touchdown to reduce the gap to 21-17.

Dallas attempted an onside kick, but Pittsburgh recovered and stuck with the run to let the clock run down. Coach Noll decided to run on a fourth down in deference to the potential of having a punt blocked.

The Cowboys took over on their own 39, with 1:22 and three timeouts remaining. The Steelers defense held and the game finished with an end zone interception by Glen Edwards.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 21 vs the Dallas Cowboys 17
Orange Bowl, Miami January 18th 1976; 80,197

Of the winning score, Bradshaw observed, “I didn’t know it was a touchdown until I came into the locker room. I didn’t see the catch. I’m still a little hazy. I got hit from the blind side and I heard bells ringing.”

“Our strategy was first to run the ball, then to mix it up, and then I decided to throw more on first down and then to throw some more. I wanted to go deep all day. I had lots of time, great protection. I just couldn’t hit my receivers.”

“Swann was the difference,” Landry said. “He made two great catches while covered. On that last one (64-yard touchdown), we had Bradshaw dead (on a safety blitz) and he got out of it.”

In the last Super Bowl I didn’t catch anything,” Lynn Swann said. “It bothered me. Maybe subconsciously I wanted to make up for it. In this one, I just had a good time and this is all mine,” he added pointing at the game ball.

Of the Cliff Harris incident, Jack Lambert remarked, “I felt he jumped up in Roy’s face and that was uncalled for, and someone had to do something about it.”

Of the the Cowboys final drive, Art Rooney said, "I was thinking of what they did to Minnesota," when Staubach threw a bomb to Drew pearson.

Franco Harris enthused, “I’m very happy, more excited than last year. We’re number one two times. We have championship blood in us.”

French Fuqua added, “We’re champs two years in a row. Let’s make it five.”

Chuck Noll said the tough competition in the Central division helped the club. “When you’re in the position of having to play pressure-type football all year, it’s better than having a comfortable lead early in the year.”

When asked how he would compare the Steelers with past champion teams, Noll replied, “Anything anybody says doesn’t mean that much. You speak with actions and our team spoke with action on the field Sunday.”

COACH NOLL WANTS A THIRD

After a deserved holiday following the Steelers second Super Bowl win, Chuck Noll was looking ahead at the 1976 season. “I don’t know how the players will react, but we have the kind of players that like to win. We have some people who came up when we weren’t winning and they have a distaste for it. They’re aware of the pitfalls.”

Reflecting on their Super Bowl win, Noll had some interesting observations. While most of the post-game discussion was on how exciting the game was, Noll was keen to discuss how well the team played.

“We were missing by that much,” he indicated with his index finger and thumb about an inch apart. Even though the Steelers went scoreless through three quarters of the game, Noll thought the team moved the ball well. The Steelers just kept missing the big plays until the final period.

On the Steelers final possession when they were holding onto a slender lead, Noll’s decision not to punt, but to run it on fourth down surprised many.

“On the first two downs, we tried plays that would have worked against the blitz, but they didn’t come with it,” Noll offered. ” I guess because we had burned them on it. Normally, on third down we would have passed. But Terry Hanratty (who had come on for an injured Terry Bradshaw) wasn’t warm, so we tried another play against a blitz and didn’t get much.

Now it’s fourth down and my first thought was to put in the punting team. But then I decided because of the field position, the percentages were to not risk a turnover on a blocked punt.” Noll confirmed that he hadn’t considered a fake punt because they hadn’t worked on it.

On the touchdown bomb to Lynn Swann, Noll confirmed that on a third and four, a short pass to get the first down would have been safer, but they wanted to go deep and were rewarded with a score.

Noll was puzzled why none of his assistant coaches were taken on for head coaching positions. “I don’t know what more credentials they want than two Super Bowls.”

1976 NFL DRAFT DELAYED

The prospective new kids on the block, Tampa and Seattle, were suing the Players Association for interfering with their expansion plans. Because of this, the expansion and college drafts were postponed from their original dates in January.

“I’ve been very much for expansion all along,” Dan Rooney told the Post-Gazette. “I think it’s essential for Tampa and Seattle to be given the opportunity to be good right away. So I’m in sympathy with their cause.”

The expansion draft would enable Tampa and Seattle to choose their players from the existing rosters of all the NFL teams who could protect 30 of their 43 players.

ERNIE HOLMES FACES DRUG CHARGES

At the beginning of February, the news hit the headlines that Ernie Holmes was arrested in Amarillo, Texas for possession of 250 milligrams of cocaine. He was in Texas for the wedding of an old friend.

This was Holmes’ second brush with the law. In 1973 he received a five-year probation sentence after pleading guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon. Holmes’ attorney said this would have no bearing on the new charge as he had complied with all the terms of the probation.

After the first incident when Holmes went on a four-hour car chase in which he wounded a Highway Patrolman, Holmes spent almost two months at a Western Psychiatric Hospital undergoing treatment.

Dan Rooney’s response to the news was supportive. “My first reaction is that I’m sorry it happened, but I need more facts. We’ll try to give Ernie as much help as we can.” Rooney suggested Holmes may have been a victim of circumstances.

Chuck Noll media photo with Dan Rooney and Pete Rozelle

1976 AND ANDY RUSSELL CONTEMPLATES RETIREMENT

Andy Russell media photo“The better a great athlete plays in the late stages of his career,” Andy Russell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The tougher it is for him to judge when the end is near. You can count the number of guys who went out on top on the fingers of one hand.”

The Steelers linebacker added, “It’s my opinion that most athletes do the wrong thing. They play too long. They wait until they can’t play and the coach makes the decision for him. I don’t want that to ever happen to me.”

Russell is determined to go out on top and will be thinking seriously for the next few months about whether he can continue for another season. “I’d love to play football for the rest of my life, but I can’t so I’ve got to make a decision,” Russell offered.  “It’s not going to be an easy decision or a hasty one.”

He confirmed he would discuss the situation with Dan Rooney and coach Noll before making his final decision. Russell is the only outside linebacker to have played in every Pro Bowl. As a defensive captain who is virtually a coach on the field, Russell is an integral part of the Steelers defense, but in Loren Toews the team does have a capable backup.

THREE RIVERS TICKET PRICE RAISED

The ticket for a game increased 90 cents to $9.15 for 45,000 seats.

1976 DRAFT TO PROCEED?

After a month’s delay, on February 20th the dismissal of the suit filed by Tampa and Seattle against the Players Association meant the 1976 draft could go ahead.

With that dismissal, it appeared that the 1976 off season would progress, but a week later, the fragility of industrial relations in the NFL was exposed when the NFL cancelled a meeting of the league’s retirement committee board while threatening the termination of the NFL’s pension plan.

The NFL’s action was in response to a report the Players Union was considering filing an $11.1 million lawsuit against the NFL asking for $10,000 in damages for each of the players alleging violation of antitrust laws in the league’s standard player contracts.

GILLIAM EXPECTING TO BE TRADED

Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam has stayed out of the limelight since the Steelers Super Bowl victory. After moving to a new apartment in Nashville, where the phone number is unlisted, Gilliam has kept himself to himself.

“It’s not hard to understand why he’s not saying anything,” his father told the Post-Gazette. “If he stepped forward and became vocal, it’d be completely out of character for him.”

It would appear that Gilliam was just waiting to hear to what team he has been traded. “The Steelers told him they’d get in touch,” his father confirmed. No trades can be made until after the draft.

NFL ADD 30-SECOND CLOCK TO FIELD

The owners agreed to put a 30-second clock in the end zones. That decision might placate Al Davis who had insisted the officials trimmed three seconds off the clock when his Raiders were attempting to come back against the Steelers in their playoff defeat at the beginning of the year.

The owners rejected a proposal to allow receivers to catch a ball with only one foot inbounds (unless pushed out by a defensive player.)

EXPANSION DRAFT

The Steelers lost Ed Bradley, Dave Brown and Dave Reavis to the expansion draft for the new Seattle and Tampa franchises. Each existing team was allowed to protect 29 players.

Although their roster had been affected with the loss, the Steelers managed to keep their base team together. Joe Gilliam was protected to enable the Steelers to gain compensation when he is traded.

SteelersUK>>>