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Frank Lewis, Steelers Wide Receiver, 1971-1978

October 28, 2011

Frank Lewis:

First can you let readers know what you are doing with yourself these days?

I am currently employed through the Workforce Investment Act program in Houma, La, 

You were a first round pick in 1971 – how much pressure did you feel as a first round pick and how did you deal with it?

If I would have received a lot of media attention and action that first year maybe I would have felt pressure as a first round pick. The way you deal with pressure, competition is to be ready when your number is called.

The Steelers were a team just starting to right itself. How did you feel getting drafted by a team with such a long history of losing?

The history of the team never cross my mind, the Steelers pick me in the draft so they were my team regardless of the past.

Who took you under their wing as a rookie and helped mentor you – and how did they do so?

The receivers were first and second year players so everyone was learning at the same rate. However, I have to say the veterans always helped a younger player when they could.

 Bill Nunn was brought in in the late 60’s by the Steelers to be one of the first people to to really focus on looking at the talent that existed in the small Southern Black colleges – something that had an immense impact how the Steelers drafted. Did you meet Bill and were you aware of the Steelers novel approach at the time to the draft?

During the time when I was a member of the Steelers I had no idea how Mr. Nunn became a part of the organization, I was told the story after   my playing days. I admired him then and still do until this day   

What was your biggest adjustment as a rookie?

The biggest adjustment was not playing and waiting for the opportunity, because coming out of Grambling (GSU) my adjustments was very small.

You were with the team as it was still “growing” into the dynasty it became. How did the team make that leap from loser to super Bowl champion – what happened, from your perspective?

I was there when the team started growing into a championship team and from my perspective the leap began in 1972 when after so many years the Steelers won the division and miss going to the Super Bowl with less than two minutes remaining in the championship game.

How did you and the team handle the early quarterbacking turmoil that some say existed between Bradshaw, Hanratty and Gilliam? What were your thoughts on the situation?

Are you talking about the media turmoil between Bradshaw, Han ratty, and Gilliam? If so, I think it is very clear how the team handle the competition that took place between the quarterbacks we became “Super Bowl Champion”.

Who were some of the toughest guys you lined up against in practice – and what made them so?

The two guys I saw 95% of the time in practice was Mel and Donnie; I need not go into details with those two names.

The team had so many great receivers during your time there – how competitive were all of you in wanting the ball and how frustrating was it for you at times?

It was very frustrating at times because we were better receivers than what the stats was saying, but winning made the difference.You were traded in 1988 to Buffalo.

You were traded to Buffalo. Can you describe why that occured and what your feelings were about the trade?

I was traded in 1978 and my attitude was the same, that if the Bills traded to get me then they are the team I want to play for. Why it occurred? There could be several reasons but the most important one to a player knows that it is not because of his ability.

Any last thoughts for readers?

I thank GOD for allowing me the opportunity to be part or the three football families I shared my life with, Grambling,Steelers, and Bills.

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