The rivalry between the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of the greatest in sports history. From 1972-to-1977, they played ten times with both teams winning 5 of those contests. They played in the divisional playoff round in back-to-back years (1972-1973), and those games were split. Then at the height of the rivalry, the Silver & Black faced the Black and Gold in three straight AFC Championship games from 1974-to-1976. Pittsburgh won two out of three and during that span, both organizations were crowned world champions.
Here are some memorable quotes from a great era of football and from players and coaches that have fueled the fire on this historic rivalry:
Former Steelers head coach Chuck Noll stated that the Raiders are a “criminal element” in the NFL and that players like George Atkinson should be “kicked out of the league.”
“In sixteen years in this office I do not recall a more flagrant foul than your clubbing the back of Swann’s head totally away from the play…. Our sport obviously involves intense physical contact, but it requires of all players discipline and control and remaining within the rules. Every player deserves protection from the kind of unnecessary roughness that could end his career.” – Former league commissioner Pete Rozelle in a letter to Atkinson after viewing tapes of the Raiders/Steelers match-up.
“There are two types of publicity. Charles Manson received publicity. Sirhan Sirhan received publicity. The publicity I’m receiving is a direct result of the statements of Coach Chuck Noll.” – George Atkinson
“They had to play on the field too. We didn’t lose the game because of the field. We lost because we turned the ball over.” – Ken Stabler after the Raiders lost 16-10 in the AFC Championship game in 1976,
“It’s a great satisfaction beating Oakland. Oakland is one of the best teams in pro football. You know you’ve played well when you can beat a team of that caliber.” — Jack Lambert
“How can [Chuck] Noll or [Steelers President Dan] Rooney know about willfully attempting to maim people unless they know something about their own players that I don’t” – Al Davis
“I didn’t see him [Tatum] coming. He just blew in and gave me a good lick. I went down and I was dizzy from the blow and all the tension. Then I looked up and saw Franco [Harris] roaring by. I really didn’t know what happened.” – John “Frenchy” Fuqua on Immaculate Reception
“I was just doing my job going to the ball. I didn’t see Tatum and Fuqua going up but all of a sudden I saw the ball coming at me. I reached down and grabbed it around my knees and took off down the sideline. I didn’t know if it was legal or not but I wasn’t going to stand around and ask.” – Franco Harris on Immaculate Reception
“That was a very good football team. When we lost to the Steelers in ’75, I just couldn’t believe it.” – former Raiders LB Phil Villapiano