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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Steelers - Gary Glick (The 1950s)

I know it says halfback,
but I didn't find evidence
of him playing there.
Who?  Starting in 1937, each NFL team went into a ‘pool’ to receive one bonus first round pick. In fact, it was the very first pick in the draft, back when it didn’t cost too much to sign that player. There was no free agency and players had jobs during the off season.The first pick in the draft was extremely valuable and practical, unlike today. After being selected, that team would be removed from future pools/drafts until every NFL team had gotten one of these bonus picks.
In 1956, only the Steelers, Chicago Cardinals and Green Bay Packers were left in the current pool. In a public drawing, Commissioner Bert Bell (former Steelers co-owner) put three slips, one marked with an X and B-O-N-U-S on it, into a gray felt fedora (classy, eh?). Then he told Dan Rooney to make the first selection. Rooney, from where he was standing, saw where the X slip was placed. So he snagged it, gaining the bonus pick. Rooney doesn’t think Bell did this intentionally, but…
A few weeks before, the coach of Colorado A&M (later to be Colorado State) sent a letter to Walt Kiesling (this guy was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman but a train wreck as a coach. You may remember the Unitas debacle from The Fifties entry), telling him about this phenomenal defensive back/quarterback named Gary Glick that he had. The defensive-minded Kiesling was determined to snatch this gem out from underneath everyone’s noses. Dan Rooney argued that nobody had scouted Glick: not even the Steelers! He could be taken in the third round: no need to use the bonus pick. 
 Kiesling refused to budge and Art Rooney, again letting his coaches make their own decisions, backed him. So, Pittsburgh took Glick with the bonus pick. They passed on future Hall of Famer Lenny Moore (Colts) and Super Bowl QB Earl Morrall in the first round, as well as Heisman Trophy winner Hop Along Cassady from Ohio State. That draft included future Hall of Famers Sam Huff, Willie Davis and Bart Starr.
A few weeks later, film of Glick came in. It showed a wind-swept stadium with open seats, dogs running onto the field and no benches for players on the side lines. The Glick Era was over before it began. Glick did play seven seasons in the NFL, three for Pittsburgh, as a safety, but didn’t exactly live up to his first pick status. Glick remains the ONLY defensive back ever chosen with the first pick. 
Just another example of the ineptitude that was the Pittsburgh Steelers before the Chuck Noll Era. 


  1. Both Gary and his brother Fred were actually quite respectable to great athletes, each played about eight years pro ball (mid-fifties thru mid-sixties). They were more like Blanda, played sometimes on both sides of the ball. Those folks kept NFL alive, until the 'super-stars' swept in to collect the money. Not too different from Kempe and Kelly. Yes, Bradshaw was respectable but having folks like Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Franco Harris, plus Joe Green, LC Greenwood, Shell and Blount made TB's life a lot easier. All the "bad years" set that stage for the prince to waltz in and grab the glass slipper.