Season's Greetings to Steeler Fans (Especially the Creeps in Sections 17, 18, 19, and 20 Behind the Bench)
Remember, Only One Game Left
To Get in Your Boos
Don't Miss the Fun!
Many Happy Boos for 1966
Your fine, outstanding right tackle,
Filled with yuletide spirit, Charlie Bradshaw composed the above ad copy last December and, until several friends talked him out of it, was prepared to purchase space in Pittsburgh sports pages as the season drew to a close. "I was really serious about it," he says. Off the field Charlie has made a number of friends in Pittsburgh, so he is not entirely bitter toward the city. Even when loudmouths behind the bench urge him to drop dead he does not return their sentiments in kind. He simply would like five minutes alone with each of them—in a telephone booth.
Bradshaw is a lumbering, stoop-shouldered, 30-year-old Texan, 6 feet 6 and 255 pounds, with a yellow crew cut and an oddly chiseled face that resembles John Nance Garner's, without wrinkles or stogie. As an offensive tackle he belongs to a category of football players who are as obscure as they are huge. They labor in a forest of arms and legs and clanking helmets, and their victories are often nothing more than the deadlock that spares the passer from an end who is bent on slaughtering him. Yet alone among all the National Football League's offensive tackles—in fact, alone among all those who have passed through history—Charles Marvin Bradshaw has a following. True his following is like the hounds that Charlie used to send tearing after coon in East Texas. But why quibble about recognition?
"At least they know you're out there," Charlie was told last year by Dan James, his counterpart on the left side of the line. Working his eighth year in Steeler uniform, James added, "They don't even know my name."
The catcalls hurled at Charlie are not mere persiflage delivered in a picnic spirit. Until the Steelers discontinued pregame introductions, the announcement of his name was voluminously booed. Fans keep a close check on the state of his uniform and from time to time admonish, "Ya oughta be ashamed to pick up ya pay, Mr. Clean!" For Charlie, the current NFL season opened exactly according to form, as soon as the P.A. announcer at Pitt Stadium introduced the starting lineup. Polite applause greeted the first five men who trotted to midfield. "And now," said Charlie, turning to a teammate on the sideline, "a nice robust boo for Bradshaw." It thundered down on him from every section in the stadium and hung in the air like the bedlam of a train passing through a tunnel.
On the enemy bench Jim Katcavage, the New York Giants' defensive end, who would spend the afternoon trying to knock Bradshaw over, was baffled. "He's a helluva tackle and a nice guy," said Katcavage. "He and Bob Brown of the Eagles are about the two best I've played against in the Eastern Division. Why in the world do they boo him?"
The exact origins of Charlie's unpopularity can be traced, all right, but not easily.