In an interview with KDKA July 9th, John McCain claimed he recited the Pittsburgh Steelers starting defensive line when under distress with his North Vietnamese captors.
"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!"
That's all well and good, but from 1967 to 1973 during McCain's imprisonment, the Steelers were just starting the process of assembling the great teams everyone remembers.
But let's play devil's advocate for a second.
McCain could have very well have been a Steelers fan back then. Maybe he did in fact name Ben McGee, Ken Kortas, Chuck Hinton and Lloyd Voss as the Steelers 1966 starting defensive line. A team that went 5-8-1, by the way.
We'll never know, but when asked by KDKA interviewer Jon Delano Wednesday if he could recall any of those players McCain said no.
By the time 1972 rolled around and the Steelers advanced to the AFC championship game, only McGee was left. By 1973, the year McCain was released, no one from the 1966 defensive line was left.
So his claim to have loved the team in those early years is a little off base. In fact, I don't think anyone would call the late 1960s as the early years of the Pittsburgh Steeler dynasty.
The team won 18 total games from 1967 to 1971, including a 1-13 record in 1969 which happened to be legendary coach Chuck Noll's first season.
Could it be McCain just got the Steelers confused with some other team? Perhaps.
On page 194 of his 1999 book "Faith of my Fathers" McCain writes:
Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron.
That would make more sense since the Green Bay Packers of the '60s were nationally recognized. McCain's Steeler claim is at best false pandering and at worst a window into a easily confused 71-year-old man. I mean, listen to the sincerity in his voice when he tells his story to the KDKA interviewer.