“Their Life's Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now” by Gary M. Pomerantz (Simon and Schuster, 481 pages, in stores)
The best moments in Gary Pomerantz's ode to the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s don't come in recounting one of the team's Super Bowl victories or a point by point breakdown of the Immaculate Reception.
Instead, Pomerantz gets to the heart of those Steelers teams through behind the scenes anecdotes that are sure to please any fan of that era of the NFL.
One of the most striking aspects of the book is the contrast between the after football lives of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Mean Joe Greene and Hall of Fame center Mike Webster.
Greene, 67, finished his playing days and embarked on a long career as an assistant coach for the Steelers and several other NFL teams.
He currently resides in the Dallas area with his wife of 45 years. Greene is comfortable financially and bears few scars from his playing days.
The same cannot be said for Webster, who died in 2002 of a heart attack at 50.
Webster was known to have suffered numerous head injuries during his 16-year career and had been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy before his death.
Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau was also diagnosed with that condition before his suicide.
After football Webster's life fell apart.
He went through a divorce, encountered financial problems and ultimately found himself living in his car and a train station for a period of time before his death.
Head injuries are believed to be the cause of Webster's erratic and sometimes violent behavior following his career.
There are also more lighthearted moments, including quarterback Terry Bradshaw's trip to a Steelers reunion and a behind the scenes account of how Greene was cast for the now iconic Coca-Cola television ad that appeared in 1979.
The commercial also marked one of the first instances of a high-profile black athlete becoming the face of a national advertising campaign.
The book is filled with colorful stories old and new involving Steelers players of the franchise's greatest era.
At 481 pages it appears daunting at first, but Pomerantz is a smooth story teller and the pages fly by like Lynn Swann in his prime.
— Matt Patterson, Staff Writer