Hell with the Lid Off: Inside the Fierce Rivalry Between the 1970s Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers

Univ. of Nebraska. Oct. 2019. 416p. ISBN 9781496214676. $29.95. SPORTS.
Gruver (Hairs vs. Squares) and football historian Campbell tackle the bitter, violent, oft-contested rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders from 1972 to 1976. Both of these colorful teams have been the subject of several books in recent years. Although this latest entry doesn’t break new ground, the story is multifaceted and well told, with the laser focus on the rivalry itself making for compelling reading. Interspersed throughout the chronological narrative are profiles of the lead actors in this five-year drama that stretches from the “Immaculate Reception,” (or “Deception” to Raiders fans) through the Raiders’ first championship in 1976. In that period, the teams battled five times in both the regular season and the playoffs, with each winning five times, facing off in the Conference championship three straight years in a row. In the 1970s, they combined to win five Super Bowls, four by Pittsburgh. Each chapter is supplemented with a coda written by Campbell, who worked for the Steelers during this period, and whose personal reminiscences at times add a deeper understanding of some of the characters in the story, though there is a clear Steelers slant.
VERDICT Worthy reading for all fans of football history.

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