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Happy Birthday, Frenchy Fuqua


I just noticed on the Steelers’ official Twitter feed a birthday message to Frenchy Fuqua.  And the mention of his name instantly took me back four decades.

It was either 1973 or 1974, after the Immaculate Reception (Fuqua had a fairly important role in the play) but before Pittsburgh’s first Super Bowl win.  The Steelers’ traveling offseason basketball team came to town, playing a collection of local slappies at the then-Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University) field house situated a short walk across a footbridge from the neighborhood where I was raised.

I was either seven or eight when my dad took me see the game.  Among the players was the man named John but known as Frenchy, who wore platform shoes with live goldfish in the see-through acrylic heels.

After the game, the players were mobbed by kids and parents who wanted the game program to be autographed, at a time when autographs were harvested not for profit but pride.  My dad got us within range of Fuqua, who took the program and my dad’s pen and signed the program and handed it back and then kept signing other programs with the same pen.

And then for some reason what my dad said next has stuck in my mind, for either 39 or 40 years:  “Mr. Fuqua!  That’s my pen!”

My dad rarely ever said all that much, so for him to say those words to a non-NFL player would have been well out of character.  For him to say it to the Frenchy Fuqua — in a very respectful but forceful way — showed me at a young age that there’s no reason to be afraid to say anything to anyone.

And, yes, Frenchy surrendered the pen.

So happy birthday, Mr. Fuqua.  If I knew your address, I’d send you a whole box of PFT pens.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rumor Mill
20 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Frenchy Fuqua”
  1. mullman76 says: Sep 12, 2013 10:39 AM

    The steelers were gifted this call and went on to become a dynasty.

    The patriots were gifted a call and went on to become a dynasty*.

    Both at the expense of Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.

    This is not a coincidence.

    Go Raiders

  2. nflofficeadmin says: Sep 12, 2013 10:40 AM

    French kiss.

  3. ktm300xcwe says: Sep 12, 2013 10:42 AM

    True mullman!

  4. jjbadd385 says: Sep 12, 2013 10:44 AM

    Awesome memory Mr. Florio. As we age, & I am 40, our memories become less, the ones we remember are truly special ones….

  5. Joemontanaflacco says: Sep 12, 2013 10:47 AM

    Most overrated moment in NFL history. The Steelers got smacked by the Perfect Dolphins the very next game. Perhaps this is why Steelers’ fans delight in celebrating meaningless victories.

  6. joetoronto says: Sep 12, 2013 11:08 AM

    The Immaculate Deception is more like it.

  7. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Sep 12, 2013 11:14 AM

    I thought Frenchy Fuqua was still playing in the NFL, but he was just using his given name Pierre Garcon.

  8. enoughofthatalready says: Sep 12, 2013 11:18 AM

    mullman, the dynasty started 2 seasons after this game.

  9. enoughofthatalready says: Sep 12, 2013 11:19 AM

    JMF, so the 4 Super Bowl Championships in the next 6 years were meaningless? Perhaps if the Ravens could actually beat the Steelers in a playoff game (0-2 all-time as Browns 1.0 and 0-3 as Ravens), then maybe you would have a meaningfull game to celebrate.

  10. dante170 says: Sep 12, 2013 11:24 AM

    Ball hit the ground !!

  11. alleycatzz says: Sep 12, 2013 11:24 AM

    Well, at least you’re finally being open and honest about your Steelers bias.

  12. enoughofthatalready says: Sep 12, 2013 11:26 AM

    Perhaps this is why Steelers’ fans delight in celebrating meaningless victories.

    Says the fan of a team that won their first meaningfull game in 12 years.

  13. jtbsteeler says: Sep 12, 2013 11:27 AM

    It toook JMF 5 days to recover from the Denver beatdown. NOw he’s back to himself.

    Haha, 5 days! #norespectforyou

  14. Pat says: Sep 12, 2013 11:40 AM

    cool story, bro

  15. salmen76 says: Sep 12, 2013 12:00 PM

    Great story Mike. I cherish my memories of spending time with my dad when i was little also. Especially when he took me fishing on the beautiful bayous of Louisiana. One time i sneaked a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer out of the old (metal) ice cooler while daddy wasn’t looking. I was trying to consume it before he noticed. He wheeled around and saw me sipping that beer. I thought i was alligator bait right on the spot! But instead daddy just sat down staring at me, he began to grin, and then said, “okay, but don’t tell ya mamma and don’t drink more than 2”. It was too cool. And the best part is that i still have my daddy. He’s 82 now. Geaux Saints!

  16. Deb says: Sep 12, 2013 2:22 PM

    Great thread. Not sure what’s been more enjoyable … Florio’s reminiscence of his father … remembering Frenchy and the Immaculate Reception … or seeing the Raiders still whining after all these years lol

  17. whitdog23 says: Sep 12, 2013 2:47 PM

    Please Frenchy — mark Return to Sender on the box!!

  18. brakadamas says: Sep 12, 2013 2:53 PM

    I was there, too.

  19. Joemontanaflacco says: Sep 12, 2013 7:31 PM

    Who cares? You want something immaculate? Try 4th and 29!

  20. johnnybgood19 says: Sep 13, 2013 12:32 PM

    Joemontanaflacco said:

    Who cares? You want something immaculate? Try 4th and 29!

    You have no idea! Not even close…. ur 4 and 29 was just another play… The IR was against the hated (even more than we hate the ravens) Raiders….

    Alright I might be over stating the part about more than how much we hate the ravens….

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