A standout at the University of Washington, Ray Pinney was chosen in the second round (37th selection overall) in the 1976 draft by the defending world champion Pittsburgh Steelers.  But don't let that lead you to believe that he has the type of great affinity for the club that teammates such as John Stallworth, John Banaszak or Lynn Swann have for the black and gold.

Pinney apparently understood very early on that pro football was a business, and that business was no place for sentimentality.  As an offensive lineman with the Steelers through the 1982 season, Pinney wasn't sentimental at all toward oncoming defensive linemen trying to get by him - or to quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

And after the 1982 season, he wasn't sentimental about leaving the team to go to the new USFL.  Pinney didn't go to the USFL's Michigan Panthers in 1983 because he had been cut by the Steelers and was seeking a chance to stay in the game.  He didn't make the jump because he sought a starting job - he already had one in Pittsburgh.  Pinney left the Steelers to sign with the Panthers for a more primal reason - money.  The courtship between the Panthers and Pinney was a relatively simple one - team owner A. Alfred Taubman backed up the money truck, doubling what Pinney had made with the Steelers the previous season.  In the words of Don Corleone, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.  Pinney would go on to play in each of the USFL's three seasons with Taubman's teams, the Michigan Panthers and Oakland Invaders, earning a 1983 USFL Championship ring to go along with two Super Bowl rings from his first stint with the Steelers. 

When the USFL closed up shop after the 1985 season, the Steelers surprisingly brought him back into the fold.  "They took me back because they knew I could play and I wasn't a distraction in the locker room," he surmised.  Pinney would continue playing for three more years, but after the 1987 season once again the cold, business side of the sport would emerge, as Pinney "got fired in a phone call" from Steeler president Dan Rooney, who advised him his contract wouldn't be renewed after the 1987 season.

Pinney had already figured as much, cleaning out his locker after the team's final game at Three Rivers Stadium.  Opting to retire rather than try to catch on with another NFL club, Pinney began his post-football career in commercial insurance, a field in which he remains today.  And as for sentimentality?  Consider that in Super Bowl XL, Pinney rooted for his hometown Seattle Seahawks against the Steelers.


RAY PINNEY

Michigan Panthers, Oakland Invaders
(then... and now)

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