by Homer J.
“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.”
That’s how the guy who gave Fred Astaire his Hollywood screen test rated the greatest hoofer of all time. Debussy’s timeless “Clair de Lune” was described as “ugly to the ears,” by the most respected Parisian critic of the time. “Fiddler on the Roof” was described as “nothing special” by the Variety stringer who reviewed its off-Broadway opening. And Rex Reed and most of the other jerks who review movies panned the greatest movie of all time, “A Christmas Story.” (They just hated producer Bob Clark, because he did those Porkys movies and Reed would never know what to do with a Red Ryder BB gun, anyway).
But my favorite review of all time was Vito Stellino’s review of the Pittsburgh Steelers 1974 draft in the Post-Gazette.
“The Steelers seem to have come out of the first five rounds of the draft appreciably strengthened at wide receiver but nowhere else. They didn’t get a tight end. They didn’t get a punter. They didn’t get an offensive tackle who might’ve shored up what could well become a weakness. What they did get was Swann, who seems to be a sure-pop to help; Lambert, who figures to be the No. 5 linebacker if he pans out; and three question marks.”
Guess he didn’t think much of that Stallworth kid or that 5th round pick out of Wisconsin, Mike Webster. Unquestionably the greatest draft of all time, with four future Hall of Famers, but one of the top football writers in the country wasn’t at all impressed. Read more
by Ivan Cole
You can read Part 1, the background portion of the post, here, and Part 2, the first part of the interview, here.
IC: It has always seemed to me that Chuck Noll has not gotten the credit he deserves for what he has accomplished as a coach. Perhaps it is because he has never been interested in bringing attention to himself. What is your take on Chuck Noll as a coach.?
RG: I don’t know how there could be a better coach than Noll. There are guys who are just as good, but I don’t think there has been any better. He was the perfect coach for the personnel he had and the city he was in. In reference to your observation that he didn’t promote himself, that didn’t have any bearing on him at all. His satisfaction came from his job well done. Period, that’s it.
You never heard him out there endorsing a product. You never heard him doing public speaking events. His main objective in life was being the best coach. He is as good as anyone has ever been. The short change they give him is that he had great personnel to work with is ludicrous. There’s great personnel on every team. Plus he was a significant factor in actually selecting that personnel. At that point in time it was not just coaching, it was player selection as well. And player development. So, he was tremendous. Read more
Rocky Blier gets a block from Randy Grossman Michael Chikiris/Post-Gazette Archives
by Ivan Cole
You can read Part 1, which gives the common background between Grossman and Cole, here.
It was [Grossman’s] perspective on several topics related to his experiences with the Steelers and the Game I was hoping to capture as we sat down that cold, wet morning, face to face for the first time in 35 years.
Ivan Cole: When was it that you realized that you could compete on an elite level?
Randy Grossman: Every sport has its infrastructure where kids progress from level to level. It doesn’t matter if it’s swimming or football. That’s why kids stop playing when they hit the wall and all of the sudden they aren’t starting any more. They aren’t progressing. For me at every level from middle school through high school I was able to get over the bar. Read more
A photo from 1974
by Ivan Cole
Like Ivan’s previous series, this was originally written for a now-defunct publication. Being as it is rather long even by our standards it has been divided into three parts. Part 1 gives you the background of Randy Grossman and his connection with Ivan Cole.
I’m crossing the Highland Park Bridge in Pittsburgh to reconnect with an old college football teammate. It is an unseasonably cold, gray, wet day even for Pittsburgh. Sort of like the kind of day when Bradshaw would pick apart opposing secondaries which were unable to cover Swann and Stallworth even on a dry field, let alone a wet one. Weather is so often a factor at home games in the city where I was born and raised. Ice brings to mind the Steelers pummeling the Houston Oilers in the playoffs. Some snowy days take you back to Brian Urlacher being run over by a Bus. Today is Bradshaw and Franco in the rain.
I park behind a nondescript building a couple of blocks from the base of the Highland Park Bridge in Aspinwall, along the north shore of the Allegheny River. And while I have never been to this place, I quickly realize that I am only about two miles as the crow flies from where I grew up. Of course, never having been a crow, navigating this part of Pittsburgh proves to be a more complicated task – a mix of horizontal and vertical challenges that make the journey more formidable than it might seem at first glance.