Pittsburgh History Today: Professional Football’s Roots In Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh History Today: Professional Football’s Roots In Pittsburgh
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STOLE ARE — AS STEELER NATION LOOKS AHEAD TO THE GAME AGAINST THE L.A. CHARGEERS WE ARE LOOKING IN — CHARGERS, WE ARE LOOKING AT A TIME WHEN WE HOSTED THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL GAME IN AMERICAN HISTORY. HERE TO TELL US IS HEINZ HISTORY CENTER PRESIDENT AND CEO ANDY MASICH. GOOD MORNING. GOOD MORNING. DON’T THINK — MAYBE I AM WRONG, PEOPLE KNOW THAT PITTSBURGH WAS HOME TO ONE OF THE FIRST GAME OR THE FIRST GAMES. PITTSBURGHERS CONSIDER THEMSELVES FOOTBALL SAVVY. WE ARE A SPORTS CITY. BUT HOW MANY KNOW THAT PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL REALLY STARTED IN PITTSBURGH? I DIDN’T KNOW THAT. IT WAS 1892. 126 YEARS AGO. IT WAS THIS MONTH, IT WAS NOVEMBER A. COLD DAY SNOWY REALLY VERY MUCH AS IT IS TODAY, 3,000 PEOPLE TURNED OUT IN RECREATION PARKINGS WHICH WAS — IT’S A FEW BLOCKS NORTH OF HEINZ FIELD TODAY. AND THERE’S A MARKER TODAY THAT COMMEMORATES THIS GAME BETWEEN THE ALLEGHENY ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION AND PITTSBURGH ATHLETIC CLUB. THESE WERE AMATEUR DRUPES. AND HERE’S — GROUP. AND HERE’S THE PARK. THAT’S HARD TO SEE. IT’S LIKE BLUEPRINT PHOTOGRAPHY AND TAKEN FROM HILL OVERLOOKING THE NORTH SIDE WHICH WAS THEN CALLED ALLEGHENY CITY AND YOU CAN SEE AN OBSERVATORY IN THE RIGHT FOREGROUND THERE. THEY ACTUALLY USED THE TELESCOPE FROM THE OBSERVATORY TO WATCH THE GAME IN THE PARK WHICH IS KIND OF IN THE MIDDLE GROUND OF THAT PHOTOGRAPH. THAT’S THE ONLY KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF RECREATION PARK. AND SO, TELL US MORE ABOUT PUDGE. PUDGE HEFFELFINGER IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE HE WAS 6 FEET THREE INCHES TALL, 220 POUNDS AND HE WAS FAST AND HE WAS TOUGH. HE BROUGHT A ATHLETICISM TO FOOTBALL THAT HAD NOT BEEN SEEN BEFORE HE WAS AN ALL AMERICAN GUARD AT YALE AND THE ALLEGHENY ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION HERE IN PITTSBURGH WAS DETERMINED TO BEAT THEIR ARCH RIVALS THE PITTSBURGH ATHLETIC CLUB. SO, THEY DIDN’T TELL ANYBODY, BUT THEY PAID PUDGE 500 DOLLARS TO HELP THEM BEAT THE PITTSBURGH ATHLETIC CLUB. AND IT WAS A TOUGH MATCH. WHEN PUDGE WALKED OUT ONTO THE FIELD, AND THE ALLEGHENY ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION GUYS SAW HIM, THEY SAY WAIT A SECOND THIS ISN’T FAIR. ACE — HE IS A RINGER. BUT BOTH TEAMS HAD RINGERS. AND SO, IT WAS A TOUGH BRAWL OF A GAME. THE ALLEGHENYING AT LET HE CAN ASSOCIATION WON IT 4-0 ON A TOUCHDOWN BY PUDGE. AND IN THOSE DAYS 1892 A TOUCHDOWN WAS WORTH 4 POINTS. I WAS GOING SAY SCORING WAS DIFFERENT. IT WAS A LOT DIFFERENT. AND THE GAME CHANGED WITH PUDGE. HE BROUGHT THAT ATHLETICISM AND IDEA OF THE PULLING GUARD THE SWEEPS IN WHICH THE GUARDS WOULD PULL. ALL THE BLOCKING THAT WE DO TODAY, REALLY ORIGINATED IN ABOUT 1892 WITH PUDGE AT RECREATION PARK. RIGHT HERE. RIGHT HERE. IN PITTSBURGH. BUT THE FOOTBALL HISTORY DOESN’T END THERE. NOT AT ALL. 40 YEARS LATER, ART ROONEY THE CHIEF BUYS THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS. AND IT’S 1933 AS THE FIRST SEASON. HE BUYS IT IN 1932 AND THEY ARE CALLED THE LOVEABLE LOSERS FOR 40 YEARS. A LONG TIME. THEY CAN’T WIN ANYTHING. THE CLEVELAND BROWNS. WELL, WORST. THAT’S HOW BAD IT WAS. SO, THEN IN 1972 A YOUNG ROOKIE THANKED FRANCO HARRIS COMES TO THE STEELERS. HE IS A TOUGH, HE IS BIG AND HE’S AS BIG AS PUDGE. ACTUALLY, THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME SIZE. AND HE BRINGS THEM TO THEIR FIRST DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME AND THEY BEAT THE OAKLAND RAIDERS. AND YOU KNOW THE FAMOUS PLAY, PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS PLAY IN NFL HISTORY. THE ONE AT THE AIRPORT. THE ONE THAT IS AT THE AIRPORT. TERRY BRADSHAW IN THE FINAL SECONDS OF THE GAME IN 1972, HE FIRES THIS SHOT AT FRENCHY AND JACK LAMBERT OF THE RAIDERSSLAMS INTO HIM AND THE BALL GOES OFF AND OUT OF NOWHERE, COMES FRANCO HARRIS AND MAKES A SHOESTRING STRETCH AND RUNS IT FOR A TOUCHDOWN AND THAT TURNS AROUND THE FORTUNES OF THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS. AND THEY BECOME THE GREATEST FOOTBALL FRANCHISE IN HISTORY. SO WE HAVE A LOT OF HISTORY HERE IN THE CITY. AND YOU GUYS WILL KIND OF PAY HOMAGE TO THAT THIS FRIDAY A NEW EXHIBIT OPENS. SO TELL US ABOUT IT. YOU HAVE TO COME TO WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA SPORTS MUSEUM, WHICH IS IS A MUSEUM WAN MUSEUM AT THE HISTORY CENTER. ALBA AND THOMAS HAVE LOANED THEIR FABULOUS COLLECTION OF FOOTBALL JERSEYS ALL WORN BY HALL OF FAMERS FROM PITTSBURGH LIKE JACK HAMM, YOU WILL SEE FRANCO HARRIS. MEL BLUNT. ROD WOODSON. GREAT STUFF. ROD WOODSON HAD MORE FUMBLE RECOVERIES FOR TOUCHDOWNS THAN ANYONE IN NFL HISTORY, AND HE IS KIND OF LIKE THE PUDGE HEFFFENGER OF THE MODERN ERA NIGHT GOING TO BE AN EXHIBIT WORTH SEEING. THANKS FOR JOINING US. YOU BET. LOOK FOR THE OPENING OF THE NEW STEELERS JERSEY DISPLAYS AT WESTERN P.A. SPORTS MUSEUM AT HEINZ HISTORY CENTER THIS FRIDAY AND KEEP WATCHING FOR MORE PITTSBURGH HISTORY TODAY HERE ON PTL WHEN HEINZ HISTORY CENTER PRESIDENT

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