Ten questions about life and football with a Super Bowl champion
Deep in the desert of New Mexico, Roy Gerela is far removed from the NFL and the three Super Bowls he helped win.
Gerela spent the last football season as an assistant coach at Gadsden High School. His team finished 0-10.
Nonetheless, the boys at Gadsden were students of the game.
“A lot of them Google me. They ask me about what it was like to be in the Super Bowl,” Gerela said.
Born in Canada to a family of good athletes, Gerela played collegiately at New Mexico State. Then he spent 11 years in the pros with three different teams, the old Houston Oilers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and, briefly, the San Diego Chargers.
The Steelers were the dominant team of the 1970s, winning four Super Bowls in six years. Gerela, their kicker during most of those glory years, was a member of the Super Bowl championship teams in 1974, ‘75 and ‘78.
Now at 65, he is watching the Pittsburgh team from afar as it begins the playoffs Sunday in Denver.
1. Did you have a favorite moment as a Steeler?
The team’s accomplishments meant more to me than any individual moment. I look back and see young men, all of different backgrounds, all blessed with raw talent, coming together to accomplish what they set out to do as a team.
2. Who was the greatest Steeler of them all?
I’ll let other people decide that. Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, they were all terrific. Rocky Bleier, with all he went through (being wounded in Vietnam, then starring with the Steelers), you could pick him too. All of them stand out in different ways.
3. Was Chuck Noll underrated as a coach?
I really think he was. Four Super Bowl championships and I don’t believe he was ever even named coach of the year.
4. What was Noll like?
He went about his business without ever calling attention to himself. When it came to commercials or personal appearances, he always said, “Those are for you guys.”
5. What do you think of Tim Tebow?
He’s not a pro-type quarterback that everybody is accustomed to seeing. He brings sort of a college element to pro football. But he’s still a young kid. He has a huge upside.
6. How does Ben Roethlisberger compare to Terry Bradshaw?
Terry was more elusive. Ben doesn’t look as quick, but he takes hit after hit and is still right back on his feet. Terry could never withstand the punishment that Big Ben has taken.
7. Mike Tomlin made news this week by benching safety Ryan Clark for health reasons. What do you think of Tomlin?
He’s proving to be a very good coach and a person of great character.
8. What do you remember about your first game in the pros?
I looked across the field and saw Dick Butkus, Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, guys I had followed and read about. You kind of have to pinch yourself that first time.
9. Was there something in particular that stayed on your mind as a player?
Don’t get hurt, because the guy behind you is not too bad. You may not get your job back.
10. What is your prediction for the Steelers-Broncos playoff game?
Pittsburgh’s going to win, no doubt about it. If they play together, come together as a team, they can go all the way.