Stallworth: 'It's like renewing old friendships'

It's been 40 years since the 1974 Steelers began a legacy that would last through generations, but for many who played on the Super Bowl IX Championship team, it seems like only yesterday.

On Saturday night the players gathered at Heinz Field for the Alumni Weekend Dinner, sharing stories with those in attendance and reminiscing with each other about the good old days.

Alumni from the 1974 team gather at Heinz Field to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Super Bowl IX.

"It's like renewing old friendships and catching up with guys we shared so much with," said Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth. "There were ups and downs we shared with each other. You form a bond because of that.

"Now we have the chance to catch up with each other and strengthen that bond again by talking to each other and reliving some of those things and catching up today."

Laughter was plentiful, but there were also some serious moments which included honoring those who were part of the championship team that have passed, including Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Noll. But all in all, it was entertaining sharing stories…even if they have grown with time.

"I think with time we have learned to embellish a whole lot," laughed Stallworth. "The stories grow, but I think the fondness of it, the things we shared, some things I might have forgotten and Lynn (Swann) might have remembered and I think oh yeah, I remember that now.

"We did some things as an organization, as a football team, that I don't know if we thought about it while we were doing it. As we sit back and look back on it and we get a chance to compare that to other teams throughout the history of the National Football League we realize we were a very good football team and we were one that can be considered as one of the greatest teams of all time."

The Super Bowl IX team will also be honored at halftime of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, and while the players think it will be more exciting for them than the fans, they are underestimating how much Steelers Nation remembers and loves that team.

"The biggest thing about this weekend is the players are more excited about the 40 years that have passed than maybe the fans," said running back Rocky Bleier. "Randy Grossman probably put it best when he said what if we were back in 1974 and we were having a reunion for the 1934 team and you wouldn't remember who was on the team.

"Having the guys come back and reminisce about what that season was about, the obstacles were there from a player strike to three quarterbacks playing and then going to the Super Bowl for the first time and being successful. That was a team made up of 11 rookies and as we know now four are in the Hall of Fame. It was the basis for the beginning of the rest of the 1970s and the success we had at that time."

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