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The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  472 ratings  ·  67 reviews
A stirring portrait of the decade when the Steelers became the greatest team in NFL history, even as Pittsburgh was crumbling around them.
In the 1970s, the city of Pittsburgh was in need of heroes. In that decade the steel industry, long the lifeblood of the city, went into massive decline, putting 150,000 steelworkers out of work. And then the unthinkable happened: The
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published September 2nd 2010 by Gotham Books
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  472 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a perfect book to read during Super Bowl week. As the title indicates, the book weaves in threads of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and the history of the industrial labor movement to capture the NFL in the '70s.

For me the three threads varied in interest. Not surprisingly, I found the history of the Steelers absolutely fascinating. The authors do a great job revealing exactly how the Steelers ended up building the incredible dynasty of the 70's by following Chuck Noll's carefu
Paul Pessolano
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
“The Ones Who Hit The Hardest” by Chad Millman and Shawn Coyne, published by Gotham Books.

Category – Sports/Football Publication Date – August 30, 2011

This book should be of interest to sports fans, football fans, and anyone who has a connection with the Pittsburgh Steelers or Pittsburgh in general. This is also a good book for those who want to know more about how football came to be as it is today. It is a short history of the NFL, the upstart AFL, their merger, the sudden rise in player’s sal
Tom Gase
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book by Chad Millman on the Pittsburgh Steelers, the best NFL team of the 1970's.

This book takes you on a journey from the very humble beginnings of the franchise, and through the 1970's when the Steel Curtain became one of the best defenses of all time. Included are great stories on individual players such as Terry Bradshaw, "Mean" Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Dwight White. There is also a lot on head coach Chuck Noll.

A side story throughout the book is
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Your appreciation might be greater if you happen to root for the Pittsburgh Steelers--I do and have since the 1970s. I actually started rooting for them at a young age because they were beating the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl in that decade and that's pretty much what this book covers--the glory decade for the Steelers that saw them win four NFL titles. The book also is kind of love letter to the hard-working, blue-collar union, steel worker that populated Pittsburgh at the time. There's lo ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book. Fantastic.
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, sports
I was excited for the concept of blending sports and social history, but the authors had a hard time threading that needle to link the two narratives. Their heart was clearly with the Pittsburgh material, both with the development of the Steelers (with coach Chuck Noll and a few players emerging as the only fully realized character portraits) and a lot of fascinating but ultimately disjointed exploration of the labor movement within the steel industry. The chapters alternate between these two ti ...more
David Bauer
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this 376 page book it talks about the communities of Dallas and Pittsburgh and how steel workers were losing their jobs and how oil men in Dallas were getting rich. It talks about how the Steelers went from being a bum team to winning 4 super bowls in 10 years and how the Cowboys went from the team that couldn't win the big one to Americas Team.
Soul Survivor
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for those who love the Steelers , and also gives a good historical understanding of
the evolution of the steel industry in Western PA . Great background info on many of the iconic players that made the Steelers dominate in the 1970s . For Cowboy fans , not so much ; however a very interesting background on Tony Dorsett , and a very unflattering profile of Tom Landry .
Bill Freil
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book exceeded expectations

Its interrsting to see the varklus stories about Dallas and Pjttsburgh and their football teams. The narrative is intetesting, but their really isnt a conclusion. The stories of tha playeRs, the Unions, devlopment of oil industry but it just ends.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any member of the Steeler Nation!
Dec 23, 2011 rated it liked it
The Dallas Cowboys symbolize rich, snobbish entitlement. Need evidence? I give you the nickname "America's Team". No one I know voted on that. They were everything that was wrong in the 1970s and everything that is wrong with the NFL and the society in general now. Tom Landry, who blamed Duane Thomas for a Super Bowl loss after he got them there, was a prime example of the bull-shit, no emotion, corporate football that epitomized these assholes year after year. Tex Schramm, who regularly gets hi ...more
Scott Holstad
Dec 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
What a dud! What a waste of time and money. What a bitter disappointment. And how about that subtitle -- "The Steelers, The Cowboys, The '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul?" What a load of crap! What horseshit is that?

I'm a lifelong Steelers fan with a healthy memory and respect for the Pittsburgh/Dallas rivalry and that's what I expected this book to be about. It wasn't. It was a book about the Steelers, yes. It was mostly about the Rooney family, about Chuck Noll, Mean Joe Greene, Terry B
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The sociology and politics of this book make it an amazing read for even a non sports fan. This is as much or even more a book about class warfare in American popular culture as it is about football. It is a super-easy read for an academic piece (I am pretty sure it began as a sociology dissertation), and the readers will find themselves rooting for the heroes, sneering at the villains and firmly embedded in that time and place. Spoiler alert: 'America's Team' are not the heroes.
Todd Stockslager
Review title: Beginner's guide to Black and Gold mythology
If you came of age in the 1970s and lived within three hours of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, or West Virginia (and even a slice of eastern Ohio, if you weren't a Brownier or Bungles fan) you already know what it means to bleed Black and Gold. If not, Millman and Coyne give a brief but somewhat cursory introduction.

If you are a Cowboys fan, you may not want to be reminded that during the 70s your team of precision was dom
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
A fun read that ultimately falls short of its promise.

The book sets itself up as the story of the rise and fall of the steel industry and the battle between the Steelers and Cowboys that marked the last stand of American industry, but falls a bit short on all fronts.

Because it tackles (no pun intended) three different stories, almost everyone will feel like one or more stories were given short shrift. It seems all but certain that most of the audience for the book will be Steelers fans, and the
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first sports related book I’ve ever read, so I can’t compare this to others, but I loved The Ones Who Hit the Hardest. I grew up in the Midwest, but my family’s all from Pittsburgh and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t root for all things Pittsburgh, especially the Steelers. Unfortunately, since I was just a kid in the 70s, I don’t remember much of going to Latrobe for training camp or of the Steelers and the games played during that era, and I knew next to nothing about the hist ...more
Sean McBride
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Over an entire decade they played the way the city worked and lived..." Admittedly I am a huge Steelers fan, but this book encapsulates why I love them so much.

1. The Rooney's are without a doubt the greatest owners of any sports team ever. This is not hyperbole, they really are that amazing. I don't use the word great lightly. Art Rooney never was much a philanthropist in the classic sense, he never went out of his way to give tons of money to charitable donations (He did, but subversively),
Sep 29, 2016 added it
I’m not a big fan of sports books. That might sound strange if you know me, as I love sports. But it just rarely works for me to read about sports in book form for whatever reason. Yet, my brother bought me The Ones Who Hit the Hardest after I gave in to my Steelers envy a while back, There were some decent behind-the-scenes stories about the Steelers and football from the 1970s. Ironically, the most interesting part of the book was about Tony Dorsett, who grew up in Pittsburgh, but became a gre ...more
Elizabeth Ahlman
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having grown up with my Dad, an avid, die-hard Steelers fan, who kept the love and the faith alive even after nearly 30 years living outside of his hometown of Pittsburgh, I loved reading this book. My parents were married in 1972, so just as the Steelers came into their own. They carried their love for the team and Pittsburgh from Pittsburgh to Tennessee, to Minnesota, to Illinois, and finally back to Pittsburgh. So when my brother sent me this book for my birthday, I could hardly wait to get i ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Full Disclosure: I was born into Steeler Nation. I bleed black and gold. My fandom has been described as passionate, irrational, and somewhat extreme. I was not an objective reader of this book.

I loved this book. It grabbed me by the collar and didn’t let me go until the end. When telling people about it, I always gave a dramatic interpretation of the title – especially the "The Fight for America’s Soul" part. I repeat, I was not an objective reader.

What had my heart, of course, was the familiar
Lori Twichell
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a Steelers fan, I enjoyed this book a lot. There were moments while I was reading that I felt as if I were watching a game play out in front of me. Seminal moments in football history were recounted and held up (the Immaculate Reception anyone?) by facts and behind the scenes information people might not realize. Like Mr. Rooney missed the whole thing because he was waiting in the tunnel to greet the team?! Wow.

As for the book as a whole, growing up in Pennsylvania gave me a strong grasp of h
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
There are a few big things wrong with this book. Nothing a good editor couldn't have fixed, but they make it clunky. If Mark Bowden's Giants/Cowboys book was a book to buy your dad about football, this is a book to buy your dad about football if he is a bitter man with a giant Steelers spankbank.

1) This book is not about the Steelers, the Cowboys and the Fight for America's Soul. The '79 Superbowl is a hastily appended chapter and much more time is dedicated to the Steelers/Raiders rivalry
2) Th
Tony Heyl
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's the story of the blue collar Steelers of the 1970s against the white collar Dallas Cowboys and probably my favorite book of the year for that reason alone. This book does a lot to explain the rise of the NFL in popularity from its humble beginnings, the way it played to television, the AFL/NFL rivalry and merger, and how the games identified with the cities while the people identified with the teams. At the same time, it touches on the steel industry in Pittsburgh and the ongoing labor issu ...more
Oliver Bateman
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
i'm from pittsburgh, so this book is ubiquitous. dozens of copies are stocked at every bookstore in the city. until i picked up a cheap copy at a library book sale, i was dubious: the premise, though cool, seemed slight.

and, after spending about 4 hours reading it, i'm forced to conclude my first impression was accurate. chapters are about a page long and alternate between dallas and pittsburgh, steelers and cowboys, steel industry and dallas business development. but as breezy and enjoyable a r
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, history
Lots of great insight into the team and players that loomed so large in my youth. I'll always be a Steelers fan but it's not the same following them at this point in my life as it was when I was a kid growing up in suburban Pittsburgh in the 70s/early 80s.

As fascinating as I found the chapters about the Steelers, I was every bit as absorbed by the chapters that explored the history and evolution of the steel industry in Western Pa., through its hay-day in the early 20th century and its decline
Nov 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough one to rate. I love what Millman wanted to do with the narrative. He was pitting the gritty steel town Steelers against the high flying Texas oilmen's Cowboys. Some of the history of steel mills and the oilmen was interesting as was the formation of the AFL. Chapters about the union bosses were completely superfluous and could have easily been removed. And all the buildup to the grand finale was anti-climatic as he spent very little time on the big games and the rivalry compared ...more
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports
As a Steelers fan, I'm a sucker for anything about the 70s dynasty. This book started with great promise -- I liked the parallel storylines about the Steelers, Cowboys and the steel industry. Then, three-quarters of the way through the book, that structure seemed to fall apart. I knew or had heard or read before most of the stories about the Steelers in the book, but learned some things about the Cowboys franchise and the steel industry. I was especially disappointed in the ending of the book, i ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
As a Steelers fan who was too young to appreciate the Steelers Super Bowl teams of the 1970s, this was a fascinating story about the history of the team and the environment in which it grew. I'm not sure the subtitle is particularly accurate, in that there wasn't really much of a "fight for America's soul" to be found. While there's a good bit about the Cowboys in this book, the balance of treatment is clearly skewed toward the Steelers and its locality. I might almost have enjoyed it more if th ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An intersting and fairly well written book, but one in which I would have like to have seen more of an effort to draw out the parallels between the labor movements in the NFL and the steel mills. Ultimately, the story of the steel mills feels abortive: Millman simply stops drops the narrative of both the Steelers and the steel industry in the late '70s. While the history of a sports franchise is amenable to such treatment, simply because personnel changes can rapidly alter the success and person ...more
Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The book takes a very sociological view of the intense rivalry that existed between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL during the 1970's. Essentially, the teams are presented as reflections of the two cities. Pittsburgh is an aging, industrial town that is struggling through the industrial downturn of the of the 1970's. Dallas is pristine, upscale, classy metropolis. The Steelers are a very blue-color, digging-in-the-trenches organization and the Cowboys are a glitzy, styl ...more
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“A good defense was steadfast and strong and straightforward, dominating in a physical and merciless way. Offense could be messy and tricky, full of mistakes that made the ball tumble to and fro, taking the coach’s stomach for a ride along with it. For Noll, like Brown before him, football’s greatness appeared in the finest details, the inches won in the trenches, not the bundles of yards gained by the fleetest feet or the strongest arms. But mostly, to play great defense was practical, and there is logic and beauty in pragmatism. Logic was Noll’s muse.” 2 likes
“The same things we were doing when we were 1-13 were the same things we were doing in 1975. But with much better players.” 1 likes
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