Before Ed O'Neill was Sofía Vergara's husband on Modern Family, and decades before that, shoe salesman Al Bundy on Married with Children, he was a football player. O'Neill, who played at Youngstown State, was even good enough to sign a professional contract.
And in a recent Q&A, Steelers.com's Bob Labriola talked about O'Neill's very brief career in Pittsburgh.
"O'Neill was a defensive lineman during his college days at Youngstown State, and the Steelers signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1969," Labriola wrote. "But alas, he was waived during training camp, maybe because he was unable to replicate Al Bundy's glory days at Polk High School ..."
Ah, yes, Polk High, where Bundy was All-City, once scoring four touchdowns in the '66 Chicago City Championship game.
O'Neill recounted the experience earlier this year during an appearance on the "Rich Eisein Show."
"When I tried out for Pittsburgh in '69, it was [Chuck] Noll's first year, the only [position] I could play would've been outside linebacker. So that's what I tried out for."
Moving to outside linebacker probably had everything to do with a rookie class that included Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood.
"[Training camp] actually went pretty good," O'Neill continued. "My father drove me down ... to St. Vincent's College ... and when we walked down the stairs and saw all the guys milling around, my father said to me, 'You sure you want to do this? You know, we could just get in the car and get out of here.'
"I actually enjoyed it, and my problem was that I had never played that position before. So I was trying to learn it and make the team at the same time."
O'Neill, who said he lasted two weeks before the turk came knocking, described Noll as exceedingly polite during their exit interview.
"I think he said I could go to the Eagles," O'Neill told Eisen. "He said, 'I can make a call.'"
But O'Neill said, "I'm done," in part because "I was sick of football."
About a year later, he found acting and we're all better for it.
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