Sports Illustrated staff writer Blount spent the '73 season ""loafing"" with (hanging around) the Pittsburgh Steelers, their ""relatively open and relaxed"" organization and their volatile fans. Feeling at first ""alien and tolerated,"" the author was able to overcome the players' customary anti-media antagonism and eventually become an accepted, necessary evil. The rapport he develops with the players (the title implies that they're a crazy bunch of dudes) serves to make this a funky, involved, highly colorful team portrait. With neither game-by-game recapitulations nor tediously technical footballese -- there's more empathizing than analyzing -- Blount captures the spirit of a Mad Dog White or a Mean Joe Greene as well as that of the patriarchal Rooney family -- the benevolent burghers who own the team. Digressing over locker room tales (tails) or the appositeness of nicknames is an integral part of the author's style -- ""By just sort of drifting around, and not having any readily discernible immediate objective, I became more intimate than a press person, more detached than a football person, and possessed of a certain amount of gossip from all angles."" Observant -- and hellbent like a scrambling quarterback.