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The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul Hardcover – September 2, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Between them, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys won five Super Bowls in the 1970s. The Steelers cultivated a blue-collar image; the Cowboys, though dubbed “America’s team,” carried a more glamorous aura. The authors trace the rise of the teams through the decade. The Cowboys had some success in the sixties but no championships. The Steelers had been woeful for decades. When the Steelers hired Chuck Noll as head coach for the 1969 season, their fortunes began to change. Noll opted to build carefully and gradually through the college draft; meanwhile, Landry and the Cowboys were the first NFL team to supplement in-person scouting with computer analysis. In the course of telling the story, the authors—who interviewed 30 former players, coaches, and assistants—portray the Steelers as a lifeline to an industrial city losing its manufacturing base and the Cowboys as the darlings of the Texas oil boomers. Interspersed throughout are dozens of anecdotes about how Noll—and his stoic counterpart, Tom Landry—motivated and built the two dominant franchises of football’s golden age. Exciting, informative reading for NFL fans with an interest in the league’s history. --Wes Lukowsky

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 .

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (September 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592405762
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592405763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul G on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm a Steelers freak, and I thought I knew a lot about Bradshaw, Franco, Swan, Jack L and the rest of the crew. But I didn't--not until I read TOWHTH. The background on the coaching and ownership side was fascinating. I also loved the Pittsburgh history, especially the stuff about the growth and collapse of the steel industry, and the corresponding demise of the union. It really gave me a sense of the desperation with which these guys played ball--not just to feed their families but also to honor the underdog who was getting his head kicked in during the 70's: the working man. When you're a kid, you see these gladiators on tv, and you think they're all millionaires, but many had second jobs. And as somebody who loved to hate Dallas, I found that side of the story remarkable as well. My worst fears were confirmed--The Cowboys were a money machine--but I found a new appreciation for them, especially in Tom Landry. I'd thought he was a cold-blooded pragmatist, but he was much more nuanced than I'd imagined. And again, not every Cowboy was a millionaire, I learned. Many came from Steelers-type backgrounds. I think my favorite parts were when Shawn Coyne's family history ties into the major events going on at the time. It gave the book a "you are there" feel. Seriously great read--and a fast one too.
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Format: Hardcover
The ones who hit the hardest is a fascinating view of how the Pittsburgh Steelers because perpetual doormats and losers and rose to become one of the NFL's great franchises. The story telling is straight forward and direct and tells the story concisely and with some flair. The writing is interesting and crisp and is told from a home town perspective so don't expect an unbiased story here.

I liked the angel focusing on the steelworkers and how the union was struggling just as the Steelers were emerging as a powerhouse. I find the one glaring error in this story is that there is no post script to tell us how things ended up for the majority of the Steelers players, the union leaders and the steel industry itself. That in my mind is the major weakness of this book.

All in all a good and enjoyable book. One I am sure Steeler fans will enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good read for any Steelers fan, but particularly those of us who grew up in the 70's and watched this team grow to dominate the NFL.

The authors do a good job of explaining how Chuck Noll's unique personality and drive were instrumental in building the Steelers dynasty. The football narrative smoothly interweaves with the decline of the steel industry and its impact on Pittsburgh. The chapters contrasting the origins and development of the Cowboys provide enough detail to reinforce my dislike of "America's Team". Landry was uptight and unable to connect with his players, and the Cowboys had some jerks like Cliff Harris and Thomas Henderson. The good guys definitely did win in Super Bowls 10 and 13.

The only issue I had with the book was that there were times when I felt like I was reading transcripts from NFL Films and the "America's Game" series in particular. Some of the quotes and anecdotes were direct lifts from those shows. Which is ironic since the authors actually manage to get their facts wrong in places (for instance, Cliff Harris didn't give Terry Bradshaw the concussion in SB10, nor did Roger Staubach's final pass that game fall incomplete - it was intercepted by Glenn Edwards). A little more original research, some new interviews and better fact-checking would have made this good book really great.

The 70's Steelers were a once-in-a-lifetime team, where the good guys (Rooneys, Noll) managed to assemble a tremendous group of athletes who beat some fine but flawed teams - especially the self-promoting Cowboys.
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Format: Hardcover
The concept of this book is great looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers and, to a lesser extent, their main Super Bowl rivals, the Dallas Cowboys with the steel industry of Pennsylvania given its due in here to understand the era and th rivalry with the Cowboys.

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.
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