Sunday, October 20, 2013

Their Life's Work (Gary Pomerantz)

Gary Pomerantz's Their Life's Work chronicles the four-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, both on and off the field. The title of the book refers to an oft-cited phrase first used by Cleveland Browns founder and coach Paul Brown and adopted by Steeler coach Chuck Noll, referring to how football is merely a phase in one's life and prepares for the decades of life that is to come.

Pomerantz details multiple pieces -- from the Rooney family, who owned the Steelers, to the players that made up the roster, to the city itself and its gradual embrace of the team. The 1970s Steelers were not only talented but also star-crossed, as the ravages of football dealt a heavy toll on the team after the game. Several players from the decade have passed on prematurely for a litany of reasons; Pomerantz chronicles the challenges and pitfalls of former players as they progress through life, and in one man's case, how his post-football career has arguably been much more successful and appreciated by fans than what happened while he was on the field.

Their Life's Work reads like a history of the Steelers and a multiple biographical sketch of many of the 1970s Steelers, which is great if you are a fan of professional football and especially a fan of the team. Pomerantz does an effective job of weaving the rise of the Steelers, their triumphs on the field and what their struggles have been since retirement. It is a great read for any Steelers fan.