Steve August, Steelers Offensive Lineman, 1984
First, can you let readers know what you have been doing with yourself since your time in the NFL?
Since 1995 I have been working in the Investment and Financial Planning industry. Presently I am a Banker with J.P. Morgan here in Tulsa, OK working with high net worth clients.
How hard was it to adjust to life after football and how did you do prepare for it while in the NFL?
It was pretty difficult especially measuring yourself against the success you attain as a NFL player. I started playing in the NFL when salaries were very low and most guys worked in the off-season.
I worked most off seasons trying to learn what I might want to do when my playing days were over. I worked in the securities/investment field in Seattle during a couple off seasons and enjoyed this investment field.
You were drafted by the Seahawks in the first round of ’77. Did you expect to go that high and what were your thoughts about going to play for Seattle?
I was expecting to go second to fourth round based on talking to people.
After playing in the East West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl I believed that I was as good as any of the other offensive lineman in those games so being picked as the fourteenth player was not a big surprise, especially since there were already four offensive lineman chosen before me.
I was excited about going to Seattle because my college teammate and good friend Steve Largent was already in Seattle and also our former Offensive Coordinator from The University of Tulsa, Jerry Rhome was in the same role in Seattle.
You have spoken about growing up without a father after he left your family when you were in first grade. How did you think his leaving affected your approach to the game of football and how did you overcome that loss to succeed?
The great thing about football and other sports is that it gives young men the opportunity to be a part of a family and there are many coaches that become your role model and mentor.
I was blessed to have many great men fill that void and help me become disciplined and believe in myself. My first football coach in youth football in Jeannette, PA was Mr. Gunther. He really made the game fun and helped me develop a love for the game. Joe Mucci and Larry Facchine were two of my high school coaches who really helped me grow up and see the potential I had to go to college and play football. There are many other great men who coached me in basketball and football over those early years who also contributed to my success.
You joined the Steelers in mid-season in ’84. What happened to bring you to the team – and why did the Steelers target you as the player they wanted to acquire?’
I had been a starter in Seattle since my second year in 1978 and was very happy making the Pacific Northwest my home but Seattle decided I was expendable even though I was the starting Right Tackle the day I was traded.
Pittsburgh had a great Right Tackle in Larry Brown but he had been hurt and was actually in the hospital the day I arrived in town, so they had a need and worked out a trade with Seattle to acquire me.
How exciting was it to be able to play for your hometown team – were there other teams you would have rather gone to?
I was very excited to be able to come home and play in Pittsburgh, it couldn’t have worked out any better. I have been a Steeler fan since my youth football days when I started watching professional football games and to be able to put on the Black and Gold was a dream come true.
Who helped welcome you to the team and helped you adjust to the Steelers?
Mike Webster was the biggest name and he was so friendly and helpful in my adjustment. Tunch and Wolfley were also very supportive and became quick friends along with Gary Dunn and John Goodman from the defensive line.
Tony Dungy and I played in the East West Shrine game together out of college and he also helped in my adjustment although he was a coach at that time. Another source of encouragement was Dick Hoak who was from Jeannette and I used to play basketball with him in the off-season during his playing days with the Steelers when I was in High School. He was my home boy that looked out for me.
What were the biggest differences between the Seahawks teams you played for and that Steelers team?
From the offensive side we threw the ball more in Seattle and it was a different type of running game with the Steelers. The Steelers were run first, tighter splits, just line up and pound it at the defense. I really enjoyed that change. There was also a great tradition of winning and of course Pittsburgh was the City of Champions.
You left the team after that ’84 season. Was that hard for you – and what prompted that move?
I actually left the team during the preseason of the ’85 year. I started training camp and was hurt after the first week in camp and was out for a week or so, then was placed on waivers and was picked up by the Jets.
The saying in the NFL is you get hurt you lose your job. Yes, leaving the Steelers was really hard for me. I had played for 7 and 1/2 years in Seattle and missed one game due to injury and then when I have this great opportunity to play in my hometown in front of family and friends I get hurt not just once but twice with the Steelers.
What are your thoughts about the changes to the game today – being more passing-focused and less allowance for hitting?
Well I always enjoyed passing the ball and in Seattle we passed quite a bit back then. I also was a part of a college team at The University of Tulsa that threw the ball a lot, so I am really happy to see most of the teams in this era throwing the ball a lot.
As far as the less allowance for hitting, there is a big problem with concussions and what the effects they have on some of us older players. That being the focus we need address this issue. The one thing I don’t get is how some of these players think making a big hit is worth more than making a tackle. I see more players breaking tackles because the defensive players don’t wrap their arms and grab some jersey.
With the new CBA, do you think the NFL and the NFLPA have done enough for retired players – especially as it related to pensions and support of those with football-related ailments?
NO, there is so much money being made by the NFL and they have denied many former players who have tried to file for some form of disability. We will see if this new CBA changes that any.
What are your favorite memories of your time as a Steeler?
The 1984 season was a good one for the Steelers going to the AFC Championship game unfortunately losing to Dan Marino and the Dolphins in Miami. I was happy to be a Steeler and be around the greatest owners in the NFL, the Rooney family. I really enjoyed getting to know Mr. Rooney and his visits to the locker room after games and practices.
Any last thoughts for readers?
Pittsburgh is such a special city and I am so proud to call it my hometown, I still come home every year to visit my family and friends. The Steeler fans are truly the greatest fans in the NFL.