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Here We Go, Steelers!

Exhibit Celebrates 75 Years of Steelers

December 3, 2007
By FRED CONNORS Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH—An ongoing exhibition capsulizing the 75-year history of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ storied professional football franchise is so impressive, Cleveland Browns fans would enjoy it.

Running through Feb. 10, the exhibition, titled “Pittsburgh Steelers 75th Season Celebration: Treasures from the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” is at the Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh.

The display is featured in the history center’s first floor McGuinn Gallery.

Included in the 5,000-square- foot exhibition are Steelers’ items from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum and the Steelers organization.

The exhibit plays to the hearts of history buffs interested in the founding of the team, those still relishing in the glory years of future Hall of Fame inductees and the Steelers of today.

Greeting visitors is a display depicting how founder Art Rooney had purchased the franchise in 1933 for $2,500.

The team was known as the Pittsburgh Pirates until 1940 when a fan contest yielded the Steelers name.

During the first week of the exhibit, visitors could see the bronze busts of all 19 Steeler Hall of Famers.

Marking the first time the busts have been on display outside of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, the “Huddle of Fame” offered a surreal atmosphere of excitement and memories on how much these men contributed to the Steelers and to the National Football League.

During Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 23-25, all five Steelers’ Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Championship trophies were on display.

The coveted trophies rarely travel outside of the team headquarters and are seldom available for up-close viewing.

Another highlight of the exhibit is dedicated to the Dec. 23, 1972, “Immaculate Reception” of then-rookie Franco Harris.

In the American Football Conference division playoff game, the Steelers were trailing the Oakland Raiders by a 7-6 score with 22 seconds remaining in the game. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw took a fourth down snap and threw toward Frenchy Fuqua.

Harris seemingly came out of nowhere and caught a shoe-top level reflected ball and ran it in for the winning score.

A few years later, Harris would visit Three Rivers Stadium while grounds crews were replacing the worn field turf.

Harris asked for the exact section of turf where he made the storybook catch.

That 15-square-foot piece of turf is on display at the exhibit where an on-demand video is available to relive the moment.

In the same area is a section of plate from the stadium elevator where owner Art Rooney was when the famous catch took place. Rooney was on his way to the locker room during the play and did not see it.

He would not learn of the victory until the team stormed into the locker room.

Harris, Bradshaw and Rooney, all Hall of Fame members, would be involved with the same team, on the same day and the same play.

There are jerseys, shoes and helmets from Steelers who contributed to the 75- year franchise history.

An eye catcher is the Purple Heart awarded to Rocky Blier in Vietnam. He would become a story of his own as he recovered from the injuries and become a Steeler great.

Another interesting display contains a picture and playbook of former Baltimore Colts Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, who was drafted by the Steelers in 1965 but released before the season started.

A Steelers trading card wall features more than 800 football cards of players from the 1930s until today. It offers a snapshot of the team’s evolution with its changing uniforms, faces and racial makeup.

Visitors also are exposed to an interactive section for children and adults.

It allows visitors to test their vertical leap, clock their speed and sample the Wonderlic Test, a timed test designed to test one’s quick thinking skills.

The actual test is taken by all potential NFL draftees as a pre-screening measure.

A growing collection of “Steeler Nation” photographs also is on display.

Visitors are encouraged to bring in any personal Steeler related photograph they would like to donate to the exhibit.

Highlights of championship Super Bowl games are available for visitors who want to relax and enjoy reliving the moments.

A “One For The Thumb” display features photos and other information about the Steelers fifth Super Bowl victory in 2006.

OK, maybe the Browns fans wouldn’t like that part.


Article Photos

A lifesize portrait of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, stands in front of a special red Heinz 57 jersey presented to the H. J. Heinz company in commemoration of the opening of Heinz Field, the Steelers’ stadium.

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