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The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul Paperback – Bargain Price, August 30, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 .
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592406653
  • ASIN: B0085SGDE6
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,299,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 Verified Purchase
Talk about burying the lead, on the last page of this interesting but also infuriating book the authors finally address, albeit briefly, what they promised that "The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the `70s, and the Fight for America's Soul" would be about. When the Steelers beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII a radio broadcaster quipped that the game represented "the triumph of the blue collar over the white collar" (p. 242). This is presumably what the book was to have been about: the demise of industrial America in the 1970s, especially the Rustbelt cities of the northeast, and the movement of population and opportunity to the Sunbelt and to other economic activities and how the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers characterized this larger dynamic.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book very much...until I got to the end! After I finished the last chapter I turned the page expecting to read about the Steelers 1979 season and it wasn't there! The book felt incomplete to me. I don't know what the author was thinking ending the book without their '79 season and Super Bowl XIV victory. Maybe because the focus of the book was on the Steelers and Cowboys of the 70's and he wanted to end it with them in their final Super Bowl meeting. Or maybe he thought since Super Bowl XIV was played in January of 1980 it shouldn't be included, but that Super Bowl is considered part of the '79 season. The Steelers won 4 Super Bowls in the '70's, not 3 in the '70's and 1 in the '80's. Whatever the reason he should have included their 4th Super Bowl victory. The last quote of the book was Coach Chuck Noll being interviewed after beating the Cowboys in the Super Bowl saying "I don't think we've peaked yet. And we're looking forward to even bigger and better things."...Yes, like a victory in Super Bowl XIV which wasn't included in this book!!!
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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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