"I don't know," the kid said.
"O.K., I'll write it out for you," Greene said. He signed the paper Joe Greene, leaving off the Mean.
"This year we can do it," he continued. "Now we putting points on the scoreboard. Now we keeping the ball, moving it. We're growing, getting consistent. The offense is better and that's what we need."
The offense is, indeed, better. Bradshaw, everyone's No. 1 draft pick last year, suffered through a most difficult rookie season, but he has improved markedly. Much of the improvement must be credited to Babe Parilli, the Steelers' quarterback coach. Last year the Steelers did not have a quarterback coach, even though both their quarterbacks, Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty, were very young.
During a practice session two days before the San Diego game Parilli spent 20 minutes standing a foot or so inside the sideline and catching passes from Bradshaw, 30 yards away. Only once or twice did Parilli have to step over the sideline to catch the ball.
Later, in the coaches' lounge, he said, "We've been working on the short pass all this season. Terry could always throw long, but last year, throwing short, he threw the ball so hard it was bouncing off the receivers. He's got to develop a touch and that's what he's doing now. He was confused much of the time, too. He couldn't read the defenses and he was hesitant on his calls, so we're working on that, too. We give him a little bit at a time and work on it until he gets it cold. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I learned that way myself and I still believe in it."
At 6'3", 218, Bradshaw is a big quarterback, and he has unusual speed; last season he averaged 7.3 yards a carry and ran 22 yards for a score against Cleveland. "His running ability is a big help," Parilli pointed out. "It's like a pitcher is a good hitter, too. If he can't find an open receiver he has a burst of speed and he might run for a good gain instead of being trapped for a long loss. His running handicaps the defense, too. The linebackers can't help out much on short pass patterns until they find out what Bradshaw is going to do. They have to play up tight."
Bradshaw, of course, is not the Steelers' principal running threat. One of their best runners, and certainly the most spectacular both on and off the field, is Fuqua, a 5'11", 200-pound sprinter from Morgan State who is now in his third year as a pro. Fuqua came to the Steelers from the New York Giants in a trade before the 1970 season. The Giants rarely used him but he led the Steelers in rushing last year with 691 yards on 138 tries for a five-yard average, and he finished the season with a flourish, carrying for 218 yards against Philadelphia, including scoring runs of 72 and 85 yards.
Fuqua is an ebullient, joyous man with a penchant for extraordinarily flamboyant clothes. Possibly his most memorable costume is a purple jump suit, which he wears with mid-calf leather boots, a glass cane, dark glasses and a big black apple hat. He lost the hat recently and placed an ad in the Pittsburgh newspapers offering a $100 prize for the best design for its replacement. He got 200 suggestions, which he has narrowed down to a) a white musketeer with a purple plume and a pink feather and b) a white turban with a large purple brooch.
"I've been wearing clothes like that all my life, since I was a little child," he was saying in the Steeler dressing room the other day. "You got to be yourself, express your emotion. I like to be noticed. It's a great feeling."