Pittsburgh Steelers: With The First Pick In The NFL Draft…


On Thursday night, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will take the stage in Chicago and declare, “With the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…”

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Will it be Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? Perhaps someone else? The consensus and whispers from Florida seem to be leaning towards the Bucs counting on Winston to be their next franchise quarterback.

The last thing Buccaneers fans want is another JaMarcus Russell. Russell was highly touted when he was drafted by Oakland with the first overall pick in 2007 but his talents never panned out and he was out of football by 2009. Had he been successful he would have been one of the biggest quarterbacks in history at 6’6” and 285 pounds.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s been 45 years since they had the top spot in the NFL draft and in 1970, they too chose a quarterback and he became not just a franchise quarterback but also landed in the Pro Hall of Fame and set passing records for Pittsburgh that stood until Ben Roethlisberger started breaking them.

That man of course is Terry Bradshaw, the Blonde Bomber. The most intriguing fact about Bradshaw’s selection as #1 was that because both the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers had finished the 1969 season with identical 1-13 records, owners George Halas and Art Rooney Sr. were instructed to call a coin toss to determine who would get the top pick in 1970.

Lucky for the Steelers Rooney called the outcome correctly and Pittsburgh was awarded the first pick in the ensuing draft. The head coaches at the time were Jim Dooley for the Bears and Chuck Noll who was entering just his second season at the helm.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

As a rookie head coach, Noll began the rebuilding process of the Steelers by choosing Joe Greene with the fourth overall pick in 1969 and then got the cornerstone for his offense a year later with Bradshaw.

As it is well known, Noll would orchestrate the construction of teams that became the most dominate team in any decade during the 1970’s winning four Super Bowls in six years during that span.

Bradshaw would be the winning quarterback in each of those NFL title games and joins just Joe Montana as the only other quarterback with four victories and zero defeats. Tom Brady won his fourth in 2015 but he has two losses to boot.

Another interesting fact about Terry Bradshaw is that in high school he established the American record for the javelin by throwing the rod 245 feet. A graduate of Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bradshaw is also a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Because of his record setting javelin throw, The Blonde Bomber was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section.

Bradshaw’s awards and accomplishments are many both on the field and off. He was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1978 and the M.V.P. of Super Bowls XII and XIV. Unfortunately, Bradshaw had the rep of being not so smart. Prior to Super Bowl XII, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson of the Dallas Cowboys told reporters covering the game, “Bradshaw is so dumb, he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him a C and an A.”

Perhaps it was the slow start to his career that spelled that myth, but in the end Bradshaw proved otherwise with the success of his career on the field and on television.

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  • Having the first overall pick in the NFL draft has only come to Pittsburgh twice before Bradshaw since the draft began in 1936. The first time Pittsburgh was on the clock first was in 1942 and that selection also landed them another player who would be inducted into the hallowed halls in Canton, Ohio in 1966.

    “Bullet” Bill Dudley was a halfback out of the University of Virginia and became the league’s M.V.P. in 1946. However, in his rookie campaign, Dudley not only led the NFL in rushing with 696 yards with a 4.29 yards-per-carry average, he also threw the ball 94 times completing 35 of those passes.

    Two completions came for touchdowns. Dudley was also an efficient punter kicking the ball 18 times that year good for a 32.0 average. He wasn’t done there. He returned 20 punts for 271 yards and was on the receiving end of 11 kickoffs averaging 27 yards per return.

    A military man, Dudley was in the Army from 1943 to 1945 and played for Army’s football team being an integral part of a 12-0 record in 1944 for which he was named Most Valuable Player.

    The Bullet returned to the NFL in 1945 and played until he retired in 1953. He would leave the Steelers for the Detroit Lions in 1947 where he played three seasons before finishing his career as a Redskin. Bill Dudley passed away in 2010 at the age of 88 suffering complications from a stroke.

    The only other man picked first in the draft by Pittsburgh was Gary Glick, a defensive back selected first in 1956. Glick would go on to play seven seasons in the NFL, three with the Steelers and then moved on to the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Colts, and retiring with the San Diego Chargers in 1963. Glick passed away just this year at 84 and like Dudley before him, this came after suffering a stroke.

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