As football season approaches here's a good one from the SI Vault:

Roy Blount Jr. on Mel Blount, circa July, 1983:

This season will be Blount's 14th as a Pittsburgh corner-back. He has played in four Super Bowl victories (in two of which he made crucial interceptions), five Pro Bowls (in one of which he was the MVP) and 202 regular-season and playoff games, more than any other Steeler ever. In 1975, when he intercepted 11 passes, he was the Pittsburgh MVP and the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He has more career interceptions, 53, than anybody else in Steeler history. His career may not have been as extraordinary as that of Charlie Sharpe, but it might well get Blount into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Blount has also been involved in a monumental flap over NFL violence, in the course of which he sued his coach, Chuck Noll, for $5 million. There was another time when he called a Steeler defensive coach "stupid" for pulling him out of a playoff game after Cliff Branch of the Raiders had burned him for several receptions. He has also been through a bankruptcy. But, "All my dreams have come true," he says. "I'm still dreaming."

This will be the last season on his current $200,000-a-year-plus-bonuses contract, and it may well be the year he retires. His thoughts now turn increasingly to horses, to disadvantaged youths and to the land that Charlie Sharpe acquired acre by acre while keeping out of white folks' way and working at a sawmill for as little as 150¢ a day.

At this point I might mention that 10 years ago, when I first got to know Blount, he said to me, "Just think, your great-granddaddy probably owned my great-granddaddy." Mel and I have the same last name and we're both from Georgia. I'm glad to say that when I asked my father whether what Mel had suggested was in fact possible, my father replied, "No, your great-granddaddy didn't own Mel's great-granddaddy, because your great-grandaddy didn't own anything. He was poor as owl dung."

But since Mel's and my people come from pretty much the same neck of the woods—Georgia just above Florida as far back as he can trace his, and Florida just below Georgia as far back as I can trace mine—the likelihood is that our Blount-hood derives, in one way or another, from the same folks.


[Photo Credit: Sara Caldwell/Augusta Chronicle]