Pittsburgh Steelers: Men of Steel by Jim Wexell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was really excited when I got this book. It was supposed to have chapters that were stories about some of the more prominent Steelers and I was excited to read about Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Greene, Hines Ward, and others. However, the first half of the book was crazy. It focused on players from the 1950s, most of whom played one to three years with the Steelers and who had no impact on the team whatsoever. I have no idea what the author was thinking when he did this. Some examples: Pat Brady, a punter from 1952-54; Ted Marchibroda, a quarterback for four years; John Lattner, a running back from 1954 who gained 237 yards; Len Dawson, the famous quarterback who spent three years with the Steelers, throwing a whole 17 passes during his time with them; and on and on. Now, why in the world waste half a book on people who made no contribution to the team??? It makes no sense. The author thought they had good “stories,” but they really didn’t. It’s sad. This book could have been good.
On the plus side, Wexell does write some chapters on some more recent Steelers who didn’t get much press, but did make contributions such as strong safety Donnie Shell, from the late 1970 Super Bowl teams. He was a Pro Bowler many times and should have made the Hall of Fame, but didn’t. It was interesting to see what he, and the others, did after retirement and where they are now. Shell has worked for the Carolina Panthers for years now, but I remember him as the player who intercepted more passes (51) than any other strong safety in history. I wore his number, 31, when I was growing up playing football. Other forgottens include wide receiver Louis Lipps, who was great but whose career in the 1980s was cut short by injuries, offensive lineman Tunch Ilkin, cornerback Dwayne Woodruff, strong safety Carnell Lake, one of my all time favorite players, sack monster and outside linebacker Kevin Greene, who should also be in the Hall of Fame and who always gets close as a finalist in voting. I don’t think he’ll get in though, even though he holds the record for most sacks from a linebacker, beating out Lawrence Taylor.
However, another disappointment with the book was that it was written in 2006, after Jerome Bettis’s Super Bowl win. But it was updated in 2011. I knew that, and I thought it’d be a great idea for the author to update all living Steelers’ info that he had written about. However, he didn’t do that. He only added two players: Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward. (Why not Troy?) Honestly, this book could have been so much better and it should have been. The author didn’t do it justice. He chose players unwisely and didn’t update info when he could and should have. Huge mistakes and that’s why I’m only giving it three stars. Indeed, I don’t know if it even deserves that. Not really recommended.