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5 Fascinating Steelers Books to Help You Pass the Time Until Kickoff

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5 Fascinating Steelers Books to Help You Pass the Time Until Kickoff

Training camp is finally here! Last Tuesday, members of the Pittsburgh Steelers 90-man roster reported to Latrobe for camp for the first time since 2019. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steelers will have a handful of members of their team who have never reported to camp at St. Vincent College. Many are excited to see the tradition return. 

Training camp is great, with exciting new additions to the team showing off their skills, ample access to players at Chuck Noll Field, and a sense that the season is just around the corner. 

While it is great to have football of any kind back, there’s still 40 days until the Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, September the 11th. With all of August and the beginning of September to go, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t Steelers content out there to help pass the time. 

Today we’ll take a look at five Steelers books that you can dig into to get your Steelers fix in ahead of the season opener. 

1). Their Life’s Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Steelers – Gary M. Pomerantz

Their Life's Work By Gary Pomerantz Steelers Book

Their Life’s Work, By Gary Pomerantz (via Simon and Schuster)

Their Life’s Work is more than just a look at the rise of the 1970’s Steelers dynasty. The book gives readers perspective on life, loss, addiction, victory and defeat. Author Gary Pomerantz gives readers an inside look about the origins of our great franchise, and the personalities, from Art Rooney to Terry Bradshaw, that shaped it in its most prolific era.

It doesn’t just give readers a glossed over view of the teams’ time on the field, Pomerantz goes in-depth to give readers a look at the lives of these men, detailing everything from rambunctious nights on the town ahead of the Super Bowl in New Orleans, to Steelers RB Rocky Bleier’s service in Vietnam and return to the team, to quarterback Joe Gillum’s struggles with drug addiction. The book takes readers through the 70’s and into the late careers and retirements of the members of those legendary Steelers rosters. 

If you’re looking for something more than just a good football story, look no further than Their Life’s Work

 

2). Heart and Steel – Bill Cowher

Heart and Steel by Bill Cowher

Heart and Steel, By Bill Cowher (via Simon and Schuster)

Another book chock-full of life wisdom from one of the Steelers’ all-time greats, Heart and Steel is Bill Cowher’s fascinating autobiography, detailing the events of his life. Starting with his childhood in Crafton, Cowher takes readers on a journey through his upbringing and the importance of football to his development as a man.

He takes time to detail his early adulthood, his forays into the college football world, and his entry into the world of professional football. There are anecdotes from football luminaries such as Lou Holtz and the Rooney’s themselves. 

This book was a great one for someone who loves the story of the 2000’s Pittsburgh Steelers and their journey from a team struggling to find an identity in the post-Noll era to the legendary Super Bowl run in 2005. This one won’t disappoint. 

 

3). Walking Miracle: How Faith, Positive Thinking, and Passion for Football Brought Me Back from Paralysis…and Helped Me Find Purpose – Ryan Shazier

Walking Miracle By Ryan Shazier Steelers

Walking Miracle, By Ryan Shazier (via Amazon.com)

No Steelers fan will ever forget the horror of seeing linebacker, Ryan Shazier, motion that he couldn’t feel his legs after he collided with the Cincinnati Bengals’ Josh Malone during the 2017 season. It remains one of the scariest moments in sports history, and it was clearly a seminal moment for many of Shazier’s teammates. 

While he wouldn’t be able to continue to play football, Shazier defied the odds by relearning to walk, something that his doctors didn’t think was likely. Shazier’s autobiography, Walking Miracle, is an inspiring novel that details the former All-Pro’s determination to recover, attempt to return to professional football, and his realization that his efforts, though not leading him back to football, will bring him purpose in his new life.

If you’re looking for an inspiring read with lessons about the power of positivity, Shazier’s book will definitely fit the bill. 

 

4). In The Locker Room: Tales of the Pittsburgh Steelers from the Playing Field to the Broadcasting Booth – Tunch Ilkin

In The Locker Room By Tunch Ilkin

In the Locker Room, By Tunch Ilkin (via shop.steelers.com)

It’s been less than a year since we lost the legendary Tunch Ilkin to ALS, and his passing is still hitting Steeler Nation very hard. The former offensive lineman’s book is an excellent read that covers Ilkin’s career from his early playing days until his time with the Steelers as a broadcaster, and is full of amusing and insightful anecdotes.

Ilkin’s book gives Steelers fans a great insight into the 1980’s team, which is often glossed over by the more successful eras that preceded and succeeded the decade. 

One of the best focuses of the novel is Ilkin’s stories about his longtime friend, Craig Wolfley, which he calls “Wolf Stories.” These include anecdotes as banal as ordering Burger King, to discussions of life altering decisions like retirement. The demonstration of the bond between the two is an entertaining and powerful look at the team dynamic of football, and in In the Locker Room, Ilkin gives Steeler Nation an insider look of football life. 

 

5). Dan Rooney: My 75 Years With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL – Dan Rooney

Dan Rooney By Dan Rooney

Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Steelers and the NFL, By Dan Rooney (via amazon.com)

The Rooney’s are one of the royal families of the NFL, and their continued ownership of the Steelers has ushered in an unprecedented era of stability and winning culture that is unrivaled by any franchise in the league. In Dan Rooney, the longtime owner of the team details his life with the franchise, which extends essentially from birth until the time of the writing of the book (2007). It is a fascinating look at nearly all eras of the team, and the city of Pittsburgh as a whole during his long life. 

Mr. Rooney goes beyond just telling his story with the Steelers, and gives readers an inside look into how the NFL grew and changed during his time with the league. Readers may be surprised by just how influential Dan Rooney was in shaping the league to be the successful, multi-billion dollar industry that it is today. 

The only negative about the book is that it misses out on the last decade of Mr. Rooney’s life, including his diplomatic work in Ireland, as it was released in 2007. That being set aside, no Steelers fan will want to miss out on this one, as it is as close to the storybook of our franchise that exists. 

 

What do you think, #SteelerNation? Do these books interest you? Are there others that you’d recommend? Comment below! 

I'm a lifelong Steelers fan who, as a result of moving around, has seen Steeler Nation all across the country. Originally from Sharon, PA, I now reside in Columbus, Ohio and grew up on the West Coast. A 2017 graduate of THE Ohio State University, my favorite current Steelers player is Cam Heyward. I spend the small amount of time that I'm not doing Steelers stuff as a government and public relations professional in Columbus.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gordon Dedman

    August 4, 2022 at 1:10 pm

    Dan Rooney’s book is a must for any Steelers fan.

  2. Gordon Dedman

    August 4, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Real #Steelershistory can be found in “Rooney… A Sporting Life”

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