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Actor Ed O'Neill tells amazing story connecting his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the lunar landing in 1969
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

Actor Ed O'Neill tells amazing story connecting his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the lunar landing in 1969

Long before he was an actor, O'Neill was a football star at Youngstown State University.

Celebrated comedic actor Ed O'Neill revealed what happened the day he left the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969.

Before O'Neill was the star of hit TV shows "Modern Family" and "Married... with Children," he was a professional athlete for a short time in the 1960s.

The actor attended Ohio University on an athletic scholarship before transferring to Youngstown State University to play as a defensive lineman from 1967 to 1968.

Following his college tenure, he signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969 but was cut during training camp.

On the "Games with Names" podcast with NFL legend Julian Edelman, O'Neill revealed that he had a memorable day after leaving the team.

"This was not too long after I got cut. So I was packing up. I thought, I don't want to go home and have to explain this. I knew a friend in Pittsburgh. So I said I am going to Pittsburgh. And I had this rudimentary idea of where my friend lived. I directed [a cab driver] up a street and saw a bar. I said right here, my friend lives right around that bar. Just drop me off here," O'Neill recalled.

'You sure you want to do this? You know, we could just get in the car and get out of here.'

The actor who played Al Bundy soon realized that the lunar landing had just happened.

"So I went in the bar. It was like 2:00 in the afternoon. I order a beer. The news comes on, and they are showing Armstrong walking on the moon. And I am thinking, at least someone had a good day. And then they went to the sports. Of course, it’s Pittsburgh. So they go, 'Linebacker Ed O'Neill released today from the Steelers.'"

Patrons at the bar realized he was indeed the NFL player on the television and bought him rounds of drinks. It wasn't until 3:00 a.m. that O'Neill mentally checked back in when he was pulled over in a car with a female companion.

"[The cop] said, 'Did you get cut from Pittsburgh today?' I said 'yep,' and he let me go."

The 78-year-old also spoke about his tryout with the Steelers with radio host Rich Eisen in 2016.

"[Training camp] actually went pretty good," O'Neill told the host, per CBS. "My father drove me down ... to St. Vincent's College ... and when we walked down the stairs and saw all the guys milling around, my father said to me, 'You sure you want to do this? You know, we could just get in the car and get out of here.'"

"I actually enjoyed it, and my problem was that I had never played [outside linebacker] before. So I was trying to learn it and make the team at the same time."

The former Steeler said that he lasted two weeks before he got the word that he was cut from the coach, who apparently said he might be a fit for the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I think he said I could go to the Eagles. ... He said, 'I can make a call.'"

However, O'Neill said at that point he was "sick of football" and passed on the opportunity.

O'Neill's first acting credit, according to IMDB, is the 1980 film "Cruising" starring Al Pacino.

The film's synopsis is as follows:

"A police officer goes undercover in the underground S&M gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is preying on gay men."

O'Neill's character on "Married... with Children" often cited his time as a high school football star, consistently referencing scoring "four touchdowns in a single game."

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Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados is a writer focusing on sports, culture, entertainment, gaming, and U.S. politics. The podcaster and former radio-broadcaster also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he confirms actually does exist.
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