ROONEY, LOYAL STEELER FANS STILL WAITING AND HOPING
by Bob August, the Cleveland Press
The years mercifully smooth out the rough
edges of memory and before long few will be
unfortunate enough to remember a certain
political convention, and a certain orator's
repeated rendition of, "How long, Oh, how
But while it has fallen into disuse politically,
the slogan still might serve the faithful followers of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are a
particularly intense and loyal breed.
The disappointments of the past are forgotten in the buoyant hopes, of each fresh
season. But in regard to their. Steelers, they
might well ask, "How long, Oh, how long?" For this marks Pittsburgh's 25th year in professional football.
Great players have come and
gone. There have been good teams and bad
ones, but they all had one thing in common.
When the season ended somebody else was
playing in the championship game.
Browns' fans who felt let down last season,
the first in which their team failed to make the
championship game, might well consider their
melancholy history. Only four times in 24
seasons did the Steelers better .500.
One year, in 1947, they managed a tie for
the eastern division championship. Even then,
they couldn't get lucky. The Philadelphia. Eagles defeated them, 21-0, and they haven't
been close again.
But hope dies hard not only in the hearts of
the fans but in that of Steeler owner Art
Rooney, one of the most colorful characters
ever to inhabit the sports field. Rooney has a
personal background in sports that few front office executives can match.
He was a halfback at Duquesne and Georgetown Universities, an outfielder with the Chicago Cubs and, still later, a player-manager in the Mid-Atlantic League. He also was
handy enough with his fists to represent the
United States as a welterweight in international matches.
His race track adventures have supplied
some of the more arresting chapters of turf
histories, and Rooney now is one of the owners
of Randall Park here.
With all his personal successes, Rooney has
been denied the one that would please him the
most, a championship for his Steelers.
This year he took a drastic step to achieve
that goal. During the training season he replaced Walt Kiesling, a warm personal friend,
with Buddy Parker as coach. The step must
have been a hard one, even though Kiesling
himself had urged it.
Parker, who manipulated the Detroit Lions
with great success, has been given a free hand
in reshaping the Steelers, and he has been
using it vigorously. The Steelers who face the
Browns here today bear slight resemblance to
the team he took over.
Many observers believe Parker already has
found one essential for a championship. Earl
Morrall, obtained in a trade with the San
Francisco 49ers, seems to be the quarterback
the Steelers have been seeking.
Now Parker must provide the supporting
players. Students of his operations think he
will do it, as he once constructed a champion
around Bobby Layne.
If not this year, then in the next two or three.
Then Rooney and the Steeler fans will know,
it was worth the long waiting period.