Hell with the Lid Off


Hell with the Lid Off

Inside the Fierce Rivalry between the 1970s Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers

Ed Gruver and Jim Campbell
Foreword by Andy Russell

400 pages
18 photographs, 4 illustrations


October 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Hell with the Lid Off looks at the ferocious five-year war waged by Pittsburgh and Oakland for NFL supremacy during the turbulent seventies. The roots of their rivalry dated back to the 1972 playoff game in Pittsburgh that ended with the “Immaculate Reception,” Franco Harris’s stunning touchdown that led the Steelers to a win over the Raiders in their first postseason meeting. That famous game ignited a fiery rivalry for NFL supremacy. Between 1972 and 1977, the Steelers and the Raiders—between them boasting an incredible twenty-six Pro Football Hall of Famers—collided in the playoffs five straight seasons and in the AFC title game three consecutive years. 

Both teams favored force over finesse and had players whose forte was intimidation. Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense featured Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Mel Blount, the latter’s heavy hits forcing an NFL rule in his name. The Raiders countered with “The Assassin,” Jack Tatum, Skip Thomas (aka “Dr. Death”), George Atkinson, and Willie Brown in their memorable secondary. Each of their championships crowned the eventual Super Bowl winner, and their bloodcurdling encounters became so violent and vicious that they transcended the NFL and had to be settled in a U.S. district court. 

With its account of classic games, legendary owners, coaches, and players with larger-than-life personalities, Hell with the Lid Off is a story of turbulent football and one of the game’s best-known rivalries.

Author Bio

Ed Gruver is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of several books, including Hairs vs. Squares: The Mustache Gang, the Big Red Machine, and the Tumultuous Summer of ’72 (Nebraska, 2016) and From Baltimore to Broadway: Joe, the Jets, and the Super Bowl III GuaranteeJim Campbell has worked at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was a member of the Steelers’ organization during their dynasty decade in the 1970s. He has written for numerous NFL publications and has authored several books on the NFL. Andy Russell is a former NFL linebacker who played his entire twelve-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, with whom he won two Super Bowls. 



"Focusing on the larger-than-life personalities involved, Gurver and Campbell provide a thrilling account of a turbulent period in the history of football as well as the games, players, and coaches that characterized it."—Erin Britton, Manhattan Book Review

"This book does a wonderful job of portraying both franchises and its players and coaches throughout the entire five year stretch and concentrates strictly on the football. There is very little commentary on the social or political situations of the cities or the nation at the time. That is what makes this book one that hard-core football fans of that era will want to read, even if they are not fans of either one of these teams."—Lance Smith, Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

“The authors capture the tenor of the times and do a fine job of fleshing out the personalities of both the Steelers and Raiders—owners, coaches, and players. As a result of Ed Gruver’s research and interviewing skills, a reader will learn exactly what the rivalry consisted of. Jim Campbell’s near-total recall from his up-close and personal position puts the reader right there on the sidelines, in the locker room, at the mid-week practices, and practically in the huddle—places where even a season ticket holder couldn’t go. In addition to being very informative, Hell with the Lid Off is simply a fun read.”—Joe Gordon, former director of communications for the Pittsburgh Steelers

“The five-year rivalry between [the Steelers and Raiders] is chronicled in exquisite detail. Tons of nuggets that the most die-hard old school NFL fans will eat up. Highest recommendation!”—Ken Gelman, NFL writer and historian

Table of Contents

Prologue: Immaculate Reception or Deception?
1. Steelers a Work of Art
2. Darth Raider and the Mad Bomber
3. Raider Nation, Franco’s Army, and Knowledge Noll
4. Mean Joe, Marv, and Madden
5. Steelers Feel a Draft in ’74
6. Hard Road to the Big Easy
7. Seeing Stars
8. Of Ice and Men
9. Autumn Wind Is a Raider
10. California Dreamin’
Epilogue: Hot War Turns Cold

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