Chuck Logan, Steelers Tight End, 1964
First, can you let readers know how your NFL career got started?
In 1964, I was drafted in the seventh round by the Chicago Bears and in the 15th round by the Denver Broncos of the AFL. I was selected 1st team All-Big 10 and third team All American at Northwestern University.
In those days, you had to play both offense and defense. I played both tight end on offense and defensive end. I selected the Bears since I was born and raised in Chicago and lived one mile from Wrigley Field, home to both the Cubs and Bears.
The Bears won the World Championship in 1963 (beating the NY Giants). This is prior to the Super Bowl. The Bears had drafted me as a wide receiver to compete with John Farrington. In those days, the World Champs played against the College All Stars in Soldier Field in Chicago. This was prior to the exhibition season.
Well, while practicing for the College All Star game, John Farrington and Willie Galimore (a star running back) got killed in a car accident trying to back to training camp and in time for bed check. Meanwhile George Halas (owner and coach of the Bears) got nervous realizing that I as a rookie was the only backup to Farrington. He immediately brought in a group of veteran wide receivers to fill the void and give me a lot of competition.
Meanwhile, I started at wide receiver against the Bears in the College All Star game. You can probably say that this was one of the highlights of my non illustrious football career. I started ahead of Paul Warfield!!! This was not because of ability, but I was a local kid and the main sponsor of the game was the Chicago Tribune.
Were you frustrated at all to play for a Pittsburgh team that was struggling to win games at the time?
In my vintage, Halas and the Rooney’s were very close. It used to be said that the Steelers were the Bear’s minor league team since Halas sent several players to Pittsburgh for a couple of years and brought them back to play in Chicago.
A couple that I can think of were Rudy Bukich (quarterback) and Ted Karras (guard). Well, he tried to do the same with me, but Pittsburgh wanted a draft choice for me (I don’t remember who or what). I was traded to Pittsburgh just before the beginning of the 1964 season.
Nobody ever signed me, my contract just transferred with me. In fact, I never went to the offices of the Steelers, nor do I ever remember meeting Art Rooney, or any family members during the 1964 season.
As soon as I got to the Steelers, I sprained my ankle in practice (supposedly because my ankles were not taped). As a result of my sprain everybody had to have their ankles taped!! Needless to say I was not the most popular player on this highly veteran team, many of these guys never had to tape their ankles before.
That year we 5 wins and 9 losses. The highlight of the year was beating the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland on a Saturday evening and our thirty-five year old fullback (John Henry Johnson) had over 200 yards rushing! At the time Cleveland was one of the two best teams in the League. It was frustrating not playing – I spent more time on the bench than I did on the playing field.
Who helped mentor you as a rookie and helped you adjust to the NFL – both on and off the field – and how did they do so?
I didn’t have any mentors while in Pittsburgh. It seemed like nobody wanted to share anything. I had a couple of good friends on the team, Paul Martha, Jim Kelly, Bob Sherman, Ray Mansfield and Bob Soleau.
You came in to the league as a tight end. How would you describe your style of play and were you a two-way player, or just tight end?
At the end of the 1964 season, the coaches recommended that I should try to add twenty pounds and come back in 1965 as a tight end (I guess they realized that I didn’t have great speed to be a real threat as a wide receiver). I reported to training camp in Kingston, Rhode Island twenty-five pounds heavier and ready to be a tight end. After our first exhibition game (against the Minnesota Vikings and a dismal blocking performance against Carl Eller and Jim Marshall), the Steeler’s released me and wanted to send me for further seasoning to their minor league team- The Wheeling Wet Virginia Ironmen (I think this was their name).
They wanted me to report immediately. However, my girlfriend and her family were using my car, visiting relatives on the east coast. Consequently, they had to pick me up and drive back to Chicago so I would have my car and then drive back to Wheeling’ West Va. As I was cleaning out my locker after getting cut, Danny LaRose, a veteran who was also cut, mentioned to me that the St. Louis Cardinals had inquired about me. Since the Cardinals trained in Lake Forest, Illinois (twenty miles from home), and just having driven sixteen hours from Rhode Island , I decided to cold call the Cardinals and the rest is history. I was able to be with them for four years.
You played for Buddy Parker in his last season as the Steelers’ coach. How was he to play for and what went wrong for him in 1964?
Buddy Parker was a very knowledgeable football coach. However, I think that he was surrounded by some incompetent assistant coaches. Some of them could barely speak. My one memory of Buddy is seeing him on the ground (Thanksgiving weekend) with three or four irate Steeler fans trying to push a St. Louis Cardinal pennant in his face while pummeling him. The fans were disappointed in having lost to the Cardinals at home. They were probably steel workers, having paid $15 for their ticket, and having too many Iron City’s to drink.
I felt terrible for Buddy and none of the fans were coming to his rescue.
Who were some of the toughest players you face while in Pittsburgh – both in practice and on game days, and what made them so tough?
A couple of the toughest guys on the Steeler’s were Moe Pottios and Bill Saul. It seemed like Bill was always looking for a fight. One of the biggest characters on the team was Ed Brown (quarterback). He was one of several that were real party animals.
You went on to St. Louis the following season. What prompted the move and what were the biggest differences between the two teams?
The coaches at St. Louis were much more approachable than those in Pittsburgh. My receivers coach, Fran Polsfoot, took a genuine interest in me both personally and professionally.
What are your best memories of your time in Pittsburgh?
My time in Pittsburgh seems like it never happened. Although I have traveled all of the country since, I have never been back to Pittsburgh. We played our games at Pitt Stadium and practiced in South Park. We lived in Castle Shannon and never spent much time in downtown Pittsburgh.
Any last thoughts for readers?
I am mostly retired now, having spent thirty-four years in Commercial Real Estate in the Chicago area. I have been married for forty-four years and we have two grown children (and one grandchild). Life has been good and I feel blessed. Wish my memories of Pittsburgh were more positive.
Should you have any further questions, or your reader’s, please feel free to have them contact me at the School of the Legends.