Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount was a third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970, but when Bud Carson joined the coaching staff in 1972, Blount's career was off to a rocky start.
Linda Carson, wife of the late Bud Carson, recently remembered an encounter Carson had on the plane with Blount during the '72 season that helped give the young defensive back confidence.
'' When Mel Blount came on the field they threw full beer cans at him. They booed him,'' Linda Carson said earlier this month of their first season in Pittsburgh. ''They let the wives travel with the team. Mel came up on the plane beside Bud and said, 'Did you mean what you said, coach? You think I can be an All-Pro?' And Bud said, 'Absolutely.'
"When he left I said, 'Bud you know he can't, he's the laughing stock.' He said, 'You just watch, he's going to be a champion.' That little ol' Mel Blount that everybody threw things at and laughed at, he had it in him all the time.''
Blount, 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds played for the Steelers from 1970-83 and was named All-Pro four times and the NFL's defensive MVP in 1975. Blount played in four Super Bowls and five Pro Bowls, totalling 57 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries. Blount was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, the year Carson was hired as Browns coach.