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