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Shading Steelers Hall of Famers Could Be Dangerous: Remembering Urban Legend of Mel Blount

Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports

Shading Steelers Hall of Famers Could Be Dangerous: Remembering Urban Legend of Mel Blount

Remember the time the Pittsburgh Steelers Mel Blount killed a receiver on the field? He was so physical that a popular urban legend sprang up around this myth.

Blount never killed anyone on the field or off, although the NFL Rules Committee obviously felt like he was doing his best to try. The urban legend pops up from time to time, but after the events of this week, I thought it would be fun to revisit this one.

The Steelers have more than their fair share of legends of the game. Recently a Steelers GM candidate Doug Whaley dared to throw shade at Jack Ham. It was particularly egregious in my opinion because Whaley worked for the Steelers at one time and comparing eras always disregards that the legends of the game would not have the benefit of modern training and diet. It seems that it is not just limited to Whaley. ESPN analysts and younger fans are getting into the act as well disrespecting legends across the board.


Origin of the Legend

The Blount urban legend revolves around fabrication and satire from NFL Network. The funny thing is a large group of people who have only seen Blount on highlights fell for it as a fact. Not the majority of fans of course, but in the days of social media, a convincing narration over film is often treated as gospel.  The legend was born when the NFL Network was doing the Top 10 Greatest Steelers of All-Time a few years ago and they asked Mark Madden to do some tongue in cheek commentary:

A lot of people don’t know this: Mel Blount killed two wide receivers during the 70s. Literally beat them to death. We didn’t have all the different replays, all the different camera angles then that we do now. They just got these two guys, borderline players, not really missed, didn’t make much money. Their families figured, ‘Hey, we can do better. Don’t press charges. Take the settlement from the league.’ Very well-kept secret. Very hushed up.”

Madden was being hyperbolic, and this was meant as a joke. But when fans are hearing this, they are also watching highlights of Blount assaulting receivers like this one:

Amazingly, Cliff Branch did not even come out of the game after this play, as you could see on the video, but they did not show the next play. Let us remember the mythical time machine that Whaley and other ESPN analysts are so fond of believing would not improve players of the past in the present, do not factor in the regression present day players would experience. Can you imagine in today’s NFL of phantom roughing the passer calls and hitting a defenseless receiver penalties, what would happen if a receiver were treated like Branch on this play? He might receive a one-year suspension and face criminal charges.

A Legend Cracks Back

Steelers Mel Blount

“If I was playing in today’s game, and they’re playing 16 games and they’re throwing the ball what, 80% of the time, I’m coming out of every game with, I’m not lying, two interceptions or more,” Blount said on the All Things Covered Podcast with Patrick Peterson & Bryant McFadden.

Blount said this last offseason along with pointing out that in 1975 teams threw the ball ‘on average 13 times per game.’ The Mel Blount rule went into effect in 1978. The Steelers won the next two Super Bowls and Blount made the Pro Bowl three of the next four seasons. He made possibly the biggest play of Super Bowl XIII with his interception of Roger Staubach late in the game. His interception totals increased, and he proved he was still a great bump and run corner with the rule intended to slow him down. Remember when comparing players of different eras, did a league have to change the rules because the player was so dominant on the field? If so, think of how many “modern day” players have so dominated the game, the NFL felt it had to even the playing field.

History of The Steelers in the Super Bowl: The Forgotten Plays

Since you have read this far, you probably realize this is a little bit of old guy ranting because sportswriters, analysts and general manager candidates are disrespecting previous generations.

That is partially true.

The beauty of sports is these arguments cannot be answered. Legends of the past outside of video games cannot return to the field to defend their honor. It is the hottest take on the planet to come out and say Hall of Famers from 30, 40 years ago could never compete and if you played pre Super Bowl era, than you are even a bigger joke and would be lucky to sit in the stadium with the modern-day NFL players.


What do you think, Steeler Nation? Just an old guy rant, or a nugget of truth? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.

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  1. Pingback: Steelers Legend Jack Ham Responds to Doug Whaley’s “Special Teams Backup” Comment -

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