Jim Boyle, Steelers Offensive Lineman, 1987-1988
First, can you let readers know what you have been doing with yourself since your NFL days – and how you got involved in your post-NFL career?
Since I last played football I have taught school in the Cincinnati Public School system for five years before changing my career to the City of Cincinnati’s Recreation Department. I have been doing this now for sixteen years. I am a Service Area Coordinator for the city and I run a recreation center in one of our inner city’s neighborhoods.
Working with inner city kids has been and always will be my drive in life.
Did you utilize any of the NFL and NFLPA career-services programs – why/why not?
I have not utilized any programs that the NFLPA services have to offer. I haven’t had a need to do so at this time.
You came to the Steelers out of Tulane in ’87 – what was your biggest adjustment as a pro and who helped you most to make the adjustment to the NFL – both on and off the field?
Before I played with the Steelers I was drafted out of Tulane by the Dolphins. Strength and conditioning were the two biggest adjustments to make at the NFL level.
’87 was a strike season – what was it like for you as a replacement player – how difficult was your decision to play?
I was out of football for two years when the strike season occurred. I had just finished graduating from Tulane when I got a call from the Steelers to join their strike team. They were in need of offensive linemen to begin with and they promised me a good look even if the strike would end.
I was apprehensive at first to sign but it allowed me to get back into football after what I considered a bad experience with the Miami Dolphins.
How did the coaches organize a team from so much chaos in that strike season – what were practices and meetings like and was it a humorous or stressful time, and why?
A few of the Steelers main guys didn’t go on strike. Guys like Mike Webster and John Stallworth set the examples on how to carry yourself on and off the field. Once the team was set the practices and meetings were the same as if it were regular season play. Johnstown PA. Was the camp site. It was kinda of neat visiting there and finding out more about the Great Flood that occurred there.
Who were some of the biggest characters on those teams you played for and what made them so – any example/stories?
My roommate was Brian Blankenship he was in a world of his own didn’t care much about anything except enjoying life and playing football. He turned out to be a good find for the Steelers.
I also played college ball with Bubby Brister he also enjoyed the finer things in life. He was our starting quarterback my senior year at Tulane and at halftime of our first game he was benched in favor of the head coaches son. So Bubby left us and the head coaches son was declared ineligible to play after the third game. Wasn’t a very fun senior year to say the least!
It was good to get reacquainted again with Bubby after what he had to go through.
You were there for the ’88 season when Art Rooney passed away. How did that affect you and the rest of the team?
I can still remember attending Mr. Rooney’s funeral as a team. The little time I got to know him I quickly realized how great of a man he was. He treated everyone with the utmost respect and generally cared about each and every one of us as his own family. And his sons and other employees were no different.
Who were some of the most difficult players you faced – both in practice and on other teams – and what made them so?
All players in the NFL are difficult hahah … that’s why they get paid what they do.
Tim Johnson was a tough guy with an attitude and David Little had a forearm harder than steel. At the end of most practices we had to go one-on-one against the linebackers and David would always ring your bell. It was brutal at times.
You retired after that ’88 season – what prompted that decision and how hard was that for you?
My decision wasn’t very hard at all to retire. At the time I just signed with Atlanta had a very good mini camp but I was thirty at the time and my first marriage was coming to an end and I wasn’t as enthusiastic like I use to be in continuing playing.
I made the decision not to return so I could be with my daughter and like coach Noll use to say it was time I got on with my life’s work.
What are your thoughts on today’s NFL – both on the new rules and the players themselves?
Today’s NFL is better than ever each year it allows teams to get better and compete for playoff berths every year. It is a bigger faster stronger league which leads to great competition.
What are some of your greatest memories as a Steeler and what made them so?
My best memories with the Steelers are the way they treated people. They treated everyone the same no matter what their role was on the team. And their fans are the best in the world.
I live here in Cincinnati which most of the City hates the Steelers but their owner could care less what happens to his players or what even happens with the team. I don’t think Mike Brown could care less if the Bengal’s do well or not. As long as he makes money he is happy and that’s his bottom line.
This city loves their team but hates their owner and that’s not a good mix.
Pittsburgh is a great organization in a great city with hard-working people who care about their team and it shows every year with the product they put out there and the seats they fill.