Monday, August 01, 2016

Interview With Ron Lippock: Steelers Takeaways Author

Ron Lippock runs the PGH Sports Daily website and also sends out Pittsburgh Sports Daily Bulletin e-mails with links to blogs and articles about, you guessed it, Pittsburgh sports. Ron has been nice enough to include some of my blog posts in his daily e-mail, and we got together to watch a Steelers game at a Washington DC restaurant last season. Through his website, Ron has interviewed hundreds of Pittsburgh Steelers players from over the years and recently (actually today!) released Steelers Takeaways: Players Memories Through the Decades available now at Barnes & Noble and Amazon among other places. Ron's a cool guy (it turns out that we grew up about a mile away from each other) and was nice enough to answer some questions about his book.

First, tell me and everyone reading this about your book, Steelers Takeaways.

The book was over five years in the making - 400+ Steelers interviews took forever - to find the players, get them to say yes to an interview, to conduct and transcribe the interviews…. But a lot of fun too. I tried to ask questions and approach these in ways others have not - to make it different. Not just due to the number of players - but really tried to get to the good stories, personal issues, racial religious stuff, humor/inside jokes, physical toll of the game….I was really surprised at how open players were. One reason may be that I intentionally interviewed guys only after they were out of the game. They were free to reveal - to open up and have fun. Less afraid of consequence - of upsetting the boss and giving away locker room secrets.

Ultimately I think this is what makes this different. Different, more personal approaches to the interviews and more openness on the players’ parts. And yes, I was pretty surprised and excited at just how open and revealing they were. And frankly, the vast majority, really good guys.

Also - because it literally spans seven decades of players - starting in the 50's - it really gives a great perspective of the team and it's journey to prominence over the years.

How did you get all of these former Steelers to talk with you?

It sounds funny…but I asked. And there is the what’s in it for me. I had something to offer - a captive audience of thousands of readers that helped give them reason to talk. An audience for them to discuss their businesses, foundations, to connect with their fans again….

Was there an interview where you thought to yourself "I can't believe he is saying this" or maybe even told the individual this?

A few days. Richard Huntley calling out Jerome Bettis. Roy Jefferson speaking frankly about his anger at Chuck Noll. A ton of inside jokes and stories - from Bradshaw stealing a player’s girlfriend, guys fighting on the freeway after a tough practice, player opinions of coaches, pranks….lot’s of great stories you never expect until you ask the questions and get those great responses.

Is there someone that you wished you could have interviewed for the book?

Eric Green and Mel Blount. Green because I really wanted to understand what happened after all of that talent and promise. I interviewed Troy Edwards and really came away fascinated and how open he was about why things didn’t work out. Those stories interest me greatly. Mel Blount as well - because he’s done so much good since the game and influences the game when he played so much.

Now that you published Steelers Takeaways, will we see a Pirates Takeaways, Penguins Takeaways, or Maulers Takeaways?

Oh wow the Maulers idea is brilliant. If only there were enough people who cared about them! I was so excited when they launched, Pirates maybe….I have interviewed former Pirates and Penguins players - but the Penguins guys are tough because there are so many that are scattered all over the world - it being such an international sport. It's hard to find those guys.

Oh - and the time…I don't know if I have that many interviews left in me!

Churchill Chargers for life! (I understand that this isn't really a question.)

Ok - now this REALLY ages me. I was there when Churchill went through “The Merger” {cue ominous music). That was when we turned into Woodland Hills. Churchill was an “ok” team before then - but now it’s a powerhouse as Woodland Hills. Clearly, they needed me out there playing….I was too busy being too small and buying pads at Walmart because none of the pads were small enough to fit me!

Where was there a Walmart near us? I don't think the Walmart in North Versailles opened until much later as there were two bowling alleys across the street from each other. If you got pads, they were from Hills or Gold Circle!

Maybe it was K-Mart? Remember we did have one of those near us!

Thanks again to Ron for answering my questions and asking so many questions over the years. Please get his book! You can also follow him on Twitter @PittsburghSport.

No comments: