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Ex-Steeler still got game in Hagerstown

August 30, 2000

Ex-Steeler still got game in Hagerstown



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Mike CollierA two-time Super Bowl alumnus now tackles his job at a Hagerstown supermarket.

Mike Collier, 46, was a member of the dominant Pittsburgh Steelers football team from 1974 to 1977.

The Hagerstown resident was recently pictured in a Sports Illustrated magazine spread entitled, "The Champs of '75 - Where are They Now?"

You'll find Collier working the overnight shift as the maintenance supervisor at Martin's grocery store on Dual Highway, spending time with his family, and sharing his love of football with area kids.

A room in the Colliers' West Church Street home features Mike Collier's well-patched No. 44 jersey from Super Bowl X, a framed photo of that Super Bowl team, his rookie card, four game footballs emblazoned with his name and a post-Super Bowl oil portrait of the young running back in action.

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Collier in 1975 went to Super Bowl IX in New Orleans with the Steelers, who defeated the Minnesota Vikings. The following year, his 25-yard return of a free kick following a safety in the fourth quarter set up the go-ahead touchdown in Pittsburgh's 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Miami.

Collier's Super Bowl rings are locked away in a safe deposit box, but his Super Bowl memories remain close at hand.

"You can't imagine it," he said. "You know everybody in the world just about is watching you. Your blood is pumping. You know you can't make a mistake. There was nothing like it."

It was Collier's lifelong dream to play pro football, he said.

A standout high school athlete, the Baltimore native gained speed on the football field by running track during his junior and senior years. The cross-training move bolstered Collier's football prowess more than anything else he could've done, he said.

He accepted an athletic scholarship to Morgan State University in Baltimore, where he graduated with a degree in physical education and was the Steelers' 14th-round draft pick in 1974.

He scored a touchdown in his first pro game against the San Diego Chargers, he said. He once returned a kickoff 95 yards in a game against the Green Bay Packers, earning him a $5,000 bonus, Collier said. He earned an extra $35,000 for each Super Bowl victory.

Collier relished traveling across the country, collecting T-shirts from every major city with a pro football team. He loved the camaraderie that he shared with his Steelers teammates, who worked together for a chance at Super Bowl stardom, he said.

Collier said his only regret is not planning more carefully for a life beyond football. Nevertheless, he's found great satisfaction in helping to rear his two children and in coaching kids on the Redskins in the Washington County Junior Football League.

He rarely talks to his former teammates, but he still follows Steelers football.

"That's the team that gave me the chance," Collier said. "I seen a whole lot of players that were good but didn't make it. I don't like to brag. I just say I was lucky."

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