McCain told Pittsburgh TV station KDKA that he recited the names of the Steelers defensive linemen when he was asked under interrogation for the name of his squadron mates.
"When I was first interrogated and really had to give some information because of the physical pressures that were on me, I named the starting lineup -- defensive line -- of the Pittsburgh Steelers as my squadron-mates!"It's a great story, and something that may help him pull in votes in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, but it's almost assuredly untrue. If you're picturing McCain naming Mean Joe Greene, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes and L.C. Greenwood, you'd be off by about six years. McCain was shot down in 1967, two years before Chuck Noll was hired, and two years before Greene was drafted. The Steel Curtain wasn't the Steel Curtain until 1972 and Franco's Immaculate Reception.When McCain was shot down, the Steelers were one of the worst teams in the NFL, in a stretch of six straight losing seasons. When McCain became a prisoner of war, the Steelers front four consisted of Ken Kortas, Chuck Hinton, Ben McGee and Lloyd Voss--I can only tell you that because I looked it up. Be honest, can anyone out there say they could have named those four without checking the Internet?
McCain isn't a native Pittsburgher, and since he was an officer in the Navy serving in squadrons after his graduation from Annapolis in 1958, he was bouncing around the world on different assignments. At the time, you would have had to be a pretty diehard Steeler fan living in Pittsburgh to have been able to name the Steelers front four. As a navy man stationed on aircraft carriers around the world, McCain would have been fortunate to have ever seen the mid-60s Steelers play a game--they weren't exactly a big TV draw.
If McCain had said he had named off the Packers, Cowboys or Giants defensive lines, that would make some sense. But saying he recited the Steelers defensive line may have sounded good because he was in Pittsburgh, but it seems nearly impossible.