They made history.
They set the standard.
They are legends.
They are family.
And on Saturday night they gathered together for a reunion, an opportunity to not just relive the great moments they experienced on the field, but to reunite with teammates, friends, family who they don’t see on a regular basis.
“The special part is getting that group of guys back together to reminisce a little bit,” said John Stallworth. “We went through a lot. Sweat and tears to get where we wanted to be. To be reunited with that band of brothers, that group that finished on top, it’s very special.”
That ‘band of brothers’ Stallworth referred to is the Steelers Super Bowl XIV championship team, a group who were honored on Saturday night at Heinz Field at the Alumni Weekend Dinner, which benefited the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
"We never get tired of celebrating Super Bowl wins around here, that is for sure," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "This team really was a historic team. An unbelievable group of guys. It's always great to see them come back and get together."
It’s the 40th Anniversary of their win over the Los Angeles Rams, a 31-19 victory that secured the Steelers their fourth Super Bowl victory in six years.
“It’s like you never left. When we get together it is a wonderful reunion,” said Ted Petersen. “It’s like you go back in time and you remember what it was like then and it continues from there. It’s really special.
“Football is a great game, I really enjoyed playing it. I learned a lot, hopefully I became a better man for playing it. One of the greatest joys is going through the journey with other guys like my teammates. They are a bunch of characters. A lot of laughter and great memories. If it wasn’t for events like these, we wouldn’t all get together at one time, not this many anyway. I really am grateful the Steelers find value in this. We really appreciate it.”
The team will also be honored on Sunday at halftime of the Steelers-Rams game and the fact that the team is playing the Rams is something those who played on the Super Bowl team appreciate.
“This event, it keeps up the camaraderie we had during the time we played,” said Dennis Winston. “We’ll have a bunch of stories to tell. Our stories are reality because we were so good back then. We had an opportunity to make history by going to four Super Bowls. That was the best thing.
“And the fact that the Steelers are playing the Rams, we get to have the bragging rights, especially if the guys keep playing like they are. The guys on the team now have to live up to the standard, the tradition we set, and they do that.”
Players celebrated the anniversary of Super Bowl XIV at Heinz Field during the Alumni Weekend Dinner, benefitting the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program
That standard was one that has the Steelers of the 1970s in the NFL history books forever. The first team to win four Super Bowls was something that will never be forgotten.
“When I came to the Steelers in 1969 they won one game and lost 13. There were a lot of building blocks laid,” said Mel Blount. “It was the people, the players, and the coaches. We had players who wanted to excel and achieve. Then we had somebody like Chuck Noll who kept pushing us to be the best. He reminded us you don’t ever arrive in this business. That is why we are where we are today and have the relationships, it was what we were able to accomplish and the journey we took. We are a close knit group. We lost some guys, but we realize we are still on this journey.”
It was a journey they didn’t even realize was as big as it was as it was playing out. Chuck Noll didn’t allow his players to look ahead or look back, and many of them didn’t reflect on what they accomplished until years later.
“I realize how historic it was,” said Stallworth. “When you are doing it, and the philosophy from Chuck was one game at a time, the biggest game of the year was the one you were playing. Having gone through that and years have passed, I can look back on it and see the magnitude of what we were doing ,what we were accomplishing in the history of the league that had never been done before. It’s a grand feeling. To have the opportunity to get together with those guys who made that happen is special.”
It was Stallworth’s amazing 73-yard touchdown reception from Terry Bradshaw that would give the Steelers a lead in the game they would never relinquish, something he said he dreamt about as a kid.
“I thought that we were on the verge of doing something outstanding, winning a fourth Super Bowl,” said Stallworth. “When I think about the game, the Rams played a good game, they held us in check for most of the game. At the end what had been a strong suit for us the last few years, we came up with the big play, passes from Bradshaw to (Lynn) Swann and myself.
“On a personal note I thought I had done what I always dreamt of doing in the biggest game of the year, to come up with the big catch and to put us in a position to win the football game. That is something I dreamt of and I think every young kid who plays football dreams about coming up with that magical, big play in the biggest game of the year to win the game.”
A lot of years have passed since the glory of winning Super Bowl XIV, but the one thing that will never pass is the pride everyone who played on that team still has.
“There was no greater feeling than playing for the Steelers,” said Winston. “We were champions, all of the guys we had there cared about each other. We were great together. Chuck Noll and the Steelers put together one of the best teams ever in the history of sports. It was fantastic to wear the black and gold. We represented and it was a great honor to play for the team.”