First, the set up.
In an interview this week with a local Pittsburgh TV station, John McCain provided the following anecdote about his time as a POW in Vietnam:
"The Steelers really made a huge impression on me -- particularly in their early years."
"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!"
This...is a lie!
Eventually, I gave them my ship's name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed. [Page 194 -- search word "Packers"]
Before he found it necessary to pander for votes in Western Pennsylvania, it was the Green bay Packers offensive line....not the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line.
And, the Packers version actually makes a hell of a lot more sense. Here's why:
- McCain was shot down over Hanoi in late October 1967.
- The Defensive linemen listed on the 1967 Steelers Roster were:
John Baker, Chuck Hinton, Ray Manfield, Ken Kortas, Jerry Mazzanti, Ben McGee, Fran O’Brien, and Lloyd Voss.
None of whom are household names.
These are the names McCain recited to his Vietnamese captors? And how would McCain actually know these names? What association did he have with Pittsburgh or the Steelers — and why would he be a fan of them in 1967?
They were a last place 4-9 team in 1967.
Even if his contradictory Packers version of the story were not evidence enough -- you'd still have to wonder.
Either John McCain wasn’t lying about this and really did know the obscure names of the defensive linemen of the last place Pittsburgh Steelers in 1967 — or he was obviously lying about it.
Or, intriguingly, he was somehow able to follow the rise of the Steelers to prominence in the early 70’s from his venue as a POW in Vietnam!
In fact, the Steelers were a terrible to merely bad team during McCain’s period as a POW until 1972 when they went 11-3. McCain was released in March of 1973, before the 1973 football season.
So, the only season the Steelers were any good during McCain's entire period of captivity was in 1972.
Now, this is the type of pathetic pandering lie that the media usually jumps all over and is the subject of chat shows for days. What are the odds that the McCain-loving media will pick up on this and try to excuse McCain's blatant lying to the voters of Western PA?
ADDENDUM: I find it highly implausible bordering on ludicrous that McCain simply FORGOT that he recited the Packers O-line and not the Steelers D-Line. Apparently, this was some trickery of his captors that he was proud of and wanted to memorialize in his autobigraphy.
And, the fact that he changed the team to Pittsburgh, while giving an interview to a PITTSBURGH TV station during a political campaign in a key swing state is all the more suspicious.
His faulty memory in that case would be mighty convenient!
So, it's a lie. No other way around it.
Updated to add youtube video of the McCain interview...h/t scarce in the comments.