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The Steelers 1976 season begins here>>>

QUARTERBACK CLASS OF FIVE

Mike Kruczek media photoMike Kruczek (picture left), drafted in the second round by the Steelers joined the quarterback camp late after missing his plane from Boston. Coach Noll had allowed the rookie an extra day off so he could attend his graduation ceremony, so Kruczek was irked to arrive even later.

“I had no idea the Steelers were going to draft me, but I figured if they took me in the second round, I must be one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” offered Kruczek. “It’s gonna take a while, but I’m working towards the number two job.”

Kruczek would be playing in the College All-Star game on July 23 and thought it could work in his favour and the opponents would be the Steelers. “Playing against the Super Bowl champions would be one of my biggest thrills,” he said. “I’ll lose a lot of time playing with the All-Stars, but it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.”

With Joe Gilliam finally in Pittsburgh, the Steelers quarterback camp was completed by Terry Hanratty and John Madeya, all competing to be Terry Bradshaw’s backup.

GILLIAM GOES AWOL

As the Steelers mini-camp expanded with the arrival of 41 rookies and free agents, Joe Gilliam didn’t join them.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggested the Steelers didn’t have a clue where the quarterback was, while the Pittsburgh Press said he was in his Pittsburgh hotel room with the Steelers suggesting there wouldn’t be any effort to reach him because he knew where they were.

When his father was contacted in Nashville, he refused to discuss the situation. “You guys have flagrantly misquoted me and I have no comment,” Gilliam senior said. “I never said Chuck Noll and the Pittsburgh Steelers were racist. That’s not the way I feel,” making reference to his remarks about his son’s career being destroyed by racism.

The big puzzle for the Steelers was why did Gilliam bother to turn up for the quarterback camp if he didn’t intend to stay for the whole week?

Among those who came into camp were defensive end Ray Braszo from Homestead who is being given a second chance of making the team after being cut the previous year. Defensive end Bob Barber, a second round draft choice from 1975, who played in the WFL with Shreveport also was in attendance.

Two rookies from 1975 who spent the season on injured reserve were also back. Wide receiver Bob Gaddis and defensive back Brent Sexton had lockers in the dressing room, but couldn’t suit up on Sundays for the home games or travel to the away games.

“I can’t wait until the Collage All-Star game,” said Gaddis. “I’ve got a debt to pay in that game.”

LARRY BROWN SIGNS A NEW CONTRACT

“They’re tough, I’d give them credit for that,” observed Larry Brown talking about the Steelers negotiating team. “They’re real tough negotiators. They’re pretty firm.”

The negotiations were probably the longest in the club’s history as the NFL is no longer enforcing the Rozelle Rule so the Steelers would not receive compensation if Brown signed with another team.

Indicating that he had spoken to other teams, Brown admitted, “I was asking the same from the Steelers as someone else. I just had to consider who was willing to pay and the next thing – who I was willing to play for.” He did acknowledge the Steelers going for a third Super Bowl was a factor in his decision.


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Last updated January 25th 2015.

The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

Keeping the Faith with Chuck Noll added September 2014.
Chuck Noll tribute added June 2014.
Byron White's 1938 season with the Pirates added July 2014
The Thirties Pirates updated April 2014.
SteelerNationUK on tour 2013 added February 2014.
The story of Steeler Nation's visit to London added October 2013.

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