a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This Steelers quarterback has lost his head

A Muffler Men roadside attraction painted to appear like a Pittsburgh Steeler isn't getting its storm-damaged head back anytime soon. Photo by Charity Beveridge.

GREENSBURG, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Steelers will begin the regular season Thursday with one of the team’s larger-than-life former quarterbacks still missing his head in Greensburg.

The owner of a giant Muffler Men statue that was painted to appear in a black-and-gold team uniform doesn’t have the money to reattach its head that was toppled by high winds several years ago.

“It’s in the works, but in this economy…,” said Brian Baughman, owner of Lugnutz Tire and Custom Auto on New Alexander Ave in Greensburg where the disfigured statue rests. “I still have the head.”

He’s had estimates that it would cost as much as $3,500 to return the head to the hollow, nearly 20-foot fiberglass frame that has been a landmark in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Many of these quirky roadside attractions still dot America’s landscape, having been painted to look like the mythical Paul Bunyan holding an ax or a tire, muffler and hamburger.

At some point, the Greensburg one was given a beard and painted in the likeness of the Steelers’ Mean Joe Greene, a member of the “Steel Curtain” defense in the 1970s. Later, the beard was removed, its chiseled face was painted white and the statue was given quarterback Tommy Maddox’s jersey number.

Today, the big lug that also has a broken right elbow appears as if it’s a giant advertisement for a store selling Steelers T-shirts.

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