A black and gold Christmas
Sunday, December 12, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Still searching for Christmas gifts for that special Steelers fan? We have some no-brainers that actually might stimulate a fan's brain. These gifts are simple to find, relatively cheap and easy to wrap or stuff in a stocking.

They are books and one DVD. Some of the books are new and some have been published within the past few years. We've read -- or watched -- them, done all the work and weeded through others that are not recommended here.

You can find all of them in local bookstores, on websites such as Amazon.com or at individual websites or addresses listed here:

[HIGH-LIGHT]'Rooney, A Sporting Life'

By Rob Ruck, Maggie Jones Patterson and Michael P. Webe[/HIGH-LIGHT]

It's voluminous, 641 pages including the index, but it's the "War and Peace" of the most important figure in Steelers history, Art Rooney. The book was a decade in the planning and writing and even more in the research. Everything is there, including details about The Chief's big haul at the race tracks, which occurred in 1937 and not, as myth has had it for so long, before he entered the team in the NFL in 1933.

[HIGH-LIGHT]'The Chief'

Starring Tom Atkins[/HIGH-LIGHT]

You've read the book? Now go see the movie. 'The Chief' was the hit one-man play so well performed by Atkins annually for nearly a decade, and it's now been turned into a movie. The DVD captures the essence of the play. Many of us who knew Rooney have done double-takes watching Atkins, who at times looks uncannily like The Chief and has the voice to go with it.

People I know in football, such as former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, made pilgrimages to Pittsburgh to see 'The Chief' on stage. Now everyone can see it, and with some of the extras that go with DVDs.

One problem might be finding it. The local Borders were sold out, so I ordered one online before Thanksgiving and it's still on back order so you might have to look harder and be patient. I received a copy from a family member so I could review it.

[HIGH-LIGHT]'Take Your Eye Off The Ball'

By Pat Kirwan[/HIGH-LIGHT]

Not a Steelers book but a book for Steelers fans who want to learn more about the game and what to watch during a game, even for those who have watched football all of their lives. Kirwan, who coached the game for 25 years on all levels and now is an analyst on NFL.com and host of a show on NFL Radio on Sirius, explains the game in simple yet instructional terms that may have you watching football as you never have before.

[HIGH-LIGHT]'The Ultimate Super Bowl Book'

By Bob McGinn[/HIGH-LIGHT]

McGinn, a longtime Green Bay Packers beat guy from the Milwaukee Journal, has put together what the subtitle proclaims: "A Complete Reference to the Stats, Stars, and Stories Behind Football's Biggest Game and Why the Best Team Won." It's the most complete book written on the history of the Super Bowl games, 384 pages of stories, stats, etc. on every game but the last one, counting the Steelers' seven. While you can find it on Amazon, if you contact McGinn directly, he says he'll personalize and autograph each copy for you. Do so at BmcGinn@journalsentinel.com.

[HIGH-LIGHT]'Just Watch The Game'

By John Steigerwald[/HIGH-LIGHT]

As reviewed here several weeks ago, Steigy had a front-row seat to nearly every important moment in Steelers history since the 1950s, as well as the Pirates, Penguins and any other important sport in town. He grew up here and then worked for three decades in local television. John has opinions and dishes them liberally. Go to www.jus****chthegame.com.


And now some books that were published within the past few years but still can be found and are still worth the price to anyone who calls himself or herself a Steelers fan:

[HIGH-LIGHT]'Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and The NFL'[/HIGH-LIGHT]

Rooney, as told to Andrew E. Masich and David F. Halaas, wrote his autobiography that kicked off an independent trilogy of books on the family that also includes one by his brother Art Rooney Jr. and the biography of his father. Talk about having a front-row seat, Dan was born in 1932, the year before his father found the franchise and he was working as a ball boy for the team before the decade had ended. Dan spins his own look at the history of the franchise and his involvement, along with inside stories, including how he may have changed a big portion of that history when he influenced the team to draft Ben Roethlisberger instead of a guard from Auburn.


By Art Rooney Jr. with Roy McHugh[/HIGH-LIGHT]

As the subtitle suggests, it is "The Story of Art Rooney and His Clan" as seen through the eyes and ears of one of Dan Rooney's four brothers. Ruanaidh is the Gaelic spelling of Rooney. Art Jr. also worked for the team, holding down what is now Kevin Colbert's job as head of personnel for two decades before Dan fired him from that job in 1986. (There has since been a conciliation of sorts.) Art, though, remained a stockholder in the restructuring of the franchise ownership and has been on its board of directors all that time and is still listed as the team's only vice president. The book contains many stories and vignettes often told in a light-hearted manner. You can buy the book directly at www.artrooneyjr.com.

[HIGH-LIGHT]'Steeler Nation'

By Jim Wexell[/HIGH-LIGHT]

A unique approach to the Steelers and their fans. Wexell took a 9,928-mile road trip over six weeks, traveling to all four corners of the country to visit current and former Steelers and what has become known as Steeler Nation. Published two years ago, Wexell visited the small towns and large ones of current and former Steelers, interviewing their friends and families. He also stopped at various haunts of Steelers fans and, at times, was treated as royalty by them. As with McGinn, Wexell will autograph and personalize your book if you buy it directly from him at.