Posted on May 25, 2012 - by ChuckFinder
Dear Old Dad remembers it well. It was a Monday night. He was “doodling on a legal pad.” O.J. Simpson and the Buffalo Bills were coming to Three Rivers Stadium that weekend, and he was determined to keep the 1,000-yard rusher from all those cutbacks and gashing runs.
That’s how he recalls fathering the stunt 4-3 defense: tilt Joe Greene at an angle between the guard and center, aim him toward the numbers on the center’s helmet (as if that wasn’t intimidating) and keep those infernal interior linemen off rookie middle linebacker Jack Lambert.
Nice going, Dad.
“That was the beginning of the stunt 4-3 and the Steel Curtain,” George Perles recalled. O.J. got 49 yards on 15 carries that first game. Oakland conjured 29 yards on 21 carries in the AFC Championship. Minnesota collected 17 yards on 21 carries in the Super Bowl, and suddenly a tilting Greene, a twisting defense and the tide-turning Steelers were curtains for the rest of the NFL winning four of six Supes.
He brought the defense to the United States Football League Philadelphia Stars and then, a few minutes later, to Michigan State, taking with him one to coach it one of the defensive linemen who played it, Curtain backup Steve Furness. Things came up roses for them at Michigan State, too.
There are inside-Steelers legends about the coaches meeting where Perles introduced the stunt 4-3 idea was one of the knock-downest, drag-outest of those gatherings when Chuck Noll‘s bright minds convened. Naaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, said the proud father. That meeting went so well, in fact, Perles said they all agreed never to put down in writing or charts their stunt ideas and twists and games. Heck, when media a week later bugged Noll about the philosophy behind the stunt 4-3, he sent the 20 or so reporters down to the office of Perles, who drew it up on the chalkboard.
Perles was the defensive line coach and, when “genius” Bud Carson (Andy Russell‘s description) left for the Los Angeles Rams, the defensive coordinator of the NFL’s dominating defense of the the last 25 years of the 20th century and the infamous Steel Curtain that once made the cover of Time.
Dad has stories about all his kids: Greene (the time he took on the entire Browns team), “Ernie Holmes, my man,” L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White, Jack Ham, Lambert. . . and more.
Next “The Steelers Encyclopedia” blog: Friday, June 1.
Happy Memorial Day weekend.