When the Steelers were in the midst of winning four Super Bowls the 1970s, credit was given to the players, coaches and owners. But one of the most important men contributing to the team’s success remained in the background.
According to Andrew Conte, author of “The Color of Sundays: The Secret Strategy That Built the Steelers’ Dynasty” (Blue River Press, $25), scout Bill Nunn Jr. arguably was as essential as Chuck Noll, Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann. Nunn’s ability to find talent at small black schools brought Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, John Stallworth, L.C. Greenwood and Glenn Edwards to the Steelers.
“I think the key factor to them winning their first four Super Bowls was their willingness to go out and try these players nobody else was looking at,” said Conte, a reporter with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Just look at the defensive line. … Without Nunn, you get (Joe) Greene but not Greenwood. You don’t get Stallworth in the ’74 draft. You don’t get Donnie Shell. You don’t get Glenn Edwards. You don’t get Sam Davis.”
Presales of The Color of Sundays have started, in advance of the Oct. 1 publication date. We are working to set up several signings and lecture events around Western Pennsylvania. Details to come. Soon, I think.
This is one of my favorite photos from researching the book. It’s a rare shot from The Pittsburgh Steelers archives. From the draft room at Three Rivers Stadium. Bill Nunn Jr, on the left. Dick Haley, director of player personnel (and father of Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley). V. Tim Rooney, a nephew of the chief, standing. And Art Rooney Jr., team vice president.
Here’s another shot. The original wooden draft tables are still in use at Steelers headquarters on the South Side. And, yes, they are pockmarked with burns from cigarettes and cigars. Where could that have come from?
Every reporter knows that feeling of coming up against deadline without a story. Point Park student reporter Emily Balser dealt with that pressure by following her gut instincts. She wandered into this Blawnox restaurant and found a nice holiday story. The piece ran in today’s Tribune-Review, and another version appeared on the Point Park News Service.
Bob Paganico spends about $2,200 a year to transform his Blawnox eatery into a spectacle of lights and ornaments for the Spirit of Christmas, a nonprofit that raises $50,000 yearly to donate gifts to children in need.
Bob’s Garage Lounge on Freeport Road has become known for its elaborate Christmas decorations — lights, garland and ornaments to attract customers and their charitable donations throughout December.
“You’d be surprised at how many grandparents and mothers and dads say, ‘This is all they have,’ ” Paganico said of the gifts his team distributes on Christmas Eve.
Paganico hosts 50/50 raffles, prize giveaways and celebrity guest bartenders at the lounge during the fundraising drive. This year’s bartenders include Craig Patrick, former Penguins general manager, and Bill Hillgrove, play-by-play announcer for the Steelers and University of Pittsburgh.
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