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Good morning, Today, we go back in history because of the NFL Network’s showing of “Al Davis, A Football Life” last night. I did not see it but after the following question from a reader, I went back and looked. Davis takes credit for encouraging Chuck Noll to go back to Terry Bradshaw in 1974 after Joe Gilliam beat him out for the job to start the season.
Our reader accurately portrays what Davis said in the piece last night:
-- YOU: Long time reader, first time emailer. I couldn't help but watch a re-run of the Al Davis 'A Football Life' episode on NFL Network this evening, and during the broadcast Mr. Davis said something so shocking to me that I felt compelled to email you guys to see if you had heard this before. Verbatim from the telecast:
Al Davis: "This is 1974, Pittsburgh started Joe Gilliam in the game, and we beat'em somthing like 17-0. After the game, Terry Bradshaw came in the locker room and said to me "Can you get me outta here, can you trade for me?". And I said to him listen, I love ya, I got enough problems. I got Stabler, I got Blanda, I still had Lamonica, and I can't get ya, but let me put in a good word for ya. Chuck Noll had been a close friend, and probably one of the dumbest things I'd ever done, I said to him why the hell don't you play Bradshaw and stop playing Gilliam, Bradshaw can win for ya. He put Bradshaw back in the lineup, they beat us in the championship game in '74, they beat us in the championship game in '75, and we had our hands full with the Steelers from then on. Because good me raised his hand and suggested that they ought to start Bradshaw."
So my question to you guys is, am I as a Steeler fan, supposed to believe this ? That Steeler history as we know it, may never have been written, if not for Al Davis ?
ME: Al Davis may indeed have said that to Chuck Noll after that game in 1974, the third one that season and a loss that left the Steelers with a 1-1-1 record (note: they earlier had the first tie in NFL history after the overtime rule was adopted that year for regular season games, 35-35 in Denver.) However, Gilliam went on to start the next three games after that loss, all three of them victories. Noll then decided it was time to go back to Bradshaw. Gilliam never started another NFL game and was out of the league for good after the 1975 season.
Here’s another note: Gilliam tried a comeback with a semi-pro team called the Pittsburgh Wolfpack in 1978, I believe. I and many others in the Pittsburgh media covered his first game for them which was played at Valley High School in New Kensington. I can’t remember much from that game or what Gilliam did in it but somewhere in the old Greensburg Tribune-Review, there’s a story by me from it.
Back to the NFL Network’s show on Al Davis, I know these pieces are not journalism but they let Davis’ statement on his “advice” to Chuck Noll about Bradshaw go unchallenged. It would have been nice to see a comment from Bradshaw or Noll, although the latter no longer gives interviews, or someone from the Steelers coaching staff of that era such as Dick Hoak.
--- YOU: I just saw the announcement Gerry D. dropped about his upcoming segment leading up to the draft that he is doing with some bloke called Tom Bradley. I'm a huge draftnik and I can't wait for this. I've wanted some more in-depth draft articles in the PG. Is this a PG+ feature or a regular PG series? Also, I'm wondering if you can let Dulac and the PG powers-that-be know that fans like me are pretty excited about the coverage. Thanks.
ME: Consider it done, and I have no idea what kind of series it is. I only know what I read.
--- YOU: When a contract is restructured to convert salary into bonus money -- as you described in an earlier PG article -- does that bonus cash then become guaranteed money and payable regardless of whether or not the player is released or kept on the roster?
ME: Yes, it is converted into a “signing” bonus, and all of those are guaranteed – unless a player quits, retires or a team can claim he did not otherwise fulfil his duties under his contract.
--- A little shorter morning blog today because my plate is kind of full this morning. I’ll try to get something more here this afternoon, perhaps something on whether Steve Breaston’s visit to the Steelers today will actually conclude with a contract. There’s also an ESPN report that LaMarr Woodley has redone his contract as well.
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