The Steelers were aware that Anything Could Happen still. So Linebacker Jack Ham, when asked for a comment appropriate to this high-water mark in Steeler history, stated simply, "Say 'It's a jungle out there.' " And then he looked up from his losing gin game to shout, "Van Dyke is a bleep!" Guard Bruce Van Dyke was being interviewed a few feet away by a fidgety youth with a tape recorder.
"Just say that Roy Gerela is the greatest ever to play this game," was Hanratty's observation.
"No," said Placekicker Gerela, who happened himself to be standing nearby. "The greatest Canadian."
But if the Steelers were disinclined to assess their own eminence too grandly, an observer need not be so reticent. It may be stated confidently that Pittsburgh has the following:
A front four that can whip any 47 people in the United States, hand-to-hand, on a given Sunday. Usually.
An offense capable of vivid and even explosive running and passing and which will score—sometimes on its own initiative but most often when presented with the right opportunity, such as a first down inside the opposing 20 after an interception.
The Lord's hand on its shoulder.
The front four are Mean Joe Greene, Dwight (Mad Dog) White, L. C. ( Hollywood Bags) Greenwood and either Ernie (Fats) Holmes or Keating. As a group they have no name. The Steel Curtain and The Anvil Chorus have been proposed. The Pittsburgh Courier uses The Baaaaaad Black Front, but that sounds like a weather condition and would seem to exclude Keating who, although a great deal of his face is covered by a brown mustache, is otherwise white. Since Greene, White, Greenwood and Holmes wear gold shoes, in defiance of Pete Rozelle's recommendation that everyone on a team dress the same in order to provide fans with a standard uniform product, the names Golden Goodies and The Gold Rush have been suggested. But no one has been heard to call the front four either of those things.
Whether they are called or not, however, they come. "Last year," says White, "offenses did obvious things to us and we did obvious things back. This year they're playing all kinds of games with us, and it's funky. But if it's third down and 20, I don't care if you know exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to jack my tail way up, get that sprinter's start and you know I'm coming."
Against Oakland the front four (how about The Nameless Dread?) knocked red-hot Quarterback Ken Stabler out of the game early and sacked his replacement, Daryle Lamonica, four times. White also picked off two passes, one that Greene tipped into the air and one that he swept right out of Lamonica's hands. The other rushers were nearly as devastating, even though the footing was so bad where the sod had been filled in over Charlie Finley's infield that Greene said, "Once my head slid under a piece of turf. I thought I was playing baseball and my head was under second base." One of Greene's most terrible charges, featuring his noted forearm uppercut, came after he complained to an official that the guard opposite him had Vaseline on his shoulder pads (the Lord may have placed His hand on the Raiders' shoulder that Sunday and it slipped off).