- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Gotham (Sept. 2 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592405762
- ISBN-13: 978-1592405763
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 567 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,556,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul Hardcover – Sep 2 2010
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About the Author
Chad Millman a deputy editor at ESPN The Magazine, is the author of The Detonators and The Odds and co-author of Invincible and Pickup Artists. He lives in Montclair, NJ with his wife and two sons. Visit his website at www.chadmillman.com .
Top customer reviews
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The problem is, if you have seen the America's Game TV series that was broadcast on the NFL Network or have watched the DVDs of both teams' Super Bowl seasons, then you'll find a lot of this repetitive. Many of the quotes in here are from that series so don't seem fresh at all. Why didn't the authors go and interview many of the main protagonists who are still alive (Cowboys' coach Tom Landry and Steelers' center Mike Webster excepted)? It seemed they relied too much on quotes from past publications. That's fine for the neophyte just learning about the era but not for anyone who grew up on '70s NFL football.
The weaving of the steel industry's fights with its union is fascinating as well as the description of what life was like in the company towns near Pittsburgh. It gave a fuller picture but one huge problem is the authors do not finish that story. It basically ends abruptly with the last union leadership election result. Could they not explain how the US steel industry thereafter pretty much disappeared completely and how the Pittsburgh diaspora was spread across the nation. This makes any Steelers' road game now almost like a home game in many stadiums due to these loyal followers forced to leave Western Pennsylvania for hobs elsewhere.
Also, the stuff on the Cowboys (and on local Pittsburgh area native Tony Dorsett) was great from an explanation of how the team used computer analysis to draft such excellent teams. The problem is that detailed information just goes to the wayside when discussing the two Cowboys teams that meet the Steelers in the Super Bowls.
I could also add the better "rivalry" during the era was with the Oakland Raiders given the Raiders had to go through the Steelers and vice versa almost every playoff season. The Cowboys, of course, played in the NFC and really their main rival was the Washington Redskins.
The book is definitely worth reading to hear about some things that were not widely known back in the '70s--the Steelers' use of steroids (and all teams really but it was never reported on in those days), the Rooneys' family dynamic and why Art was loved by Steeler fans even through all the losing seasons prior to coach Chuck Noll's hiring. The problem I had with it was it could have been far more than what the authors came up with. In parts it's way too superficial, especially in brushing over playoff years and zipping through these so-called great matchups with the Cowboys. I never got the feel of the games which is the crux of the whole rivalry.
Honestly, read this and then watch the America's Game DVDs on the teams. You tell me which worked better.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Much of the narrative centers around African American players from the South and whether they were socially accepted, yet the story omits mention of the most famous football advertisement from a global brand powerhouse: Mean Joe Greene accepting a Coke from a white child. What is the lasting impression of the Steelers on Pittsburgh, whose decline as a city continued through the eighties yet the fans remained faithful? Rich material but disappointing given the many missed opportunities.
The book certainly satisfied a lot of my football curiosity with wonderful anecdotes about Noll, Rooney and the rest of the football characters involved, including some new ideas regarding the role of congress in birth/rise of the AFL. About halfway through the book however I realized that what I was reading was actually a very cleverly disguised history of the industrial struggles of the 1970s. The battle of the unions and the manufacturers to remain healthy and relevant is a vital piece of American history, that is all too often not discussed. Placing this struggle within the context of the rise of the Steelers/Raiders/Cowboys rivalry was clever and effective.
The goal of book, to educate regarding this important chapter in American economic history, is perhaps, to some degree, why the writing of the book is at such a high level. The story telling is hits all of the proper notes, from serious to poignant to entertaining and in the end the reader has not only been able to engage in the history, and perhaps their own memories of these wonderful teams, but been given the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of where the US economy has been, and where it might be headed.
I am not a fan of football and I really never have been, but I recognize its place in the social history of modern America. And this could have been an outstanding study of the sport and how it played off the Sunbelt and the Rustbelt and what those football teams represented for their regions and the economic fortunes of their fans. Unfortunately, what we got in "The Ones Who Hit the Hardest" was a blow by blow account of the building of the two franchises into powerhouse teams that dominated football in the 1970s and met in the Super Bowl. We learn a lot about Art Rooney, Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Green, and other players on the Steelers side and Tex Schramm, Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, and other players for the Cowboys on the other, but not that much about the stories of the two cities. There are some chapters on steel workers, the union, and the like, as well as oil men and the birth of the American Football League but not much attempt to put it all together.
The very promising premise that sportswriters Chad Millman and Shawn Coyne offer for readers of this book falls flat from the very beginning. I thought they would get to the core story--the relationships between regions, teams, and economic fortunes--but they never really delivered. Instead we are treated to recitations of games, highlights of play, and the like. This may be fine for a fan of football--especially the Steelers and the Cowboys--but I had expected to see the sport used to illuminate broader perspectives. There is still a need for such a study, and it could be a blockbuster, but "The One's Who Hit the Hardest" is not that book.