Al Bundy was almost a Steeler

Actor Ed O'Neill had a brief role as a defensive end for the Steelers. (Dan Steinberg/Associated Press)

Young readers will hear the name Ed O’Neill and think of Jay from the current TV hit “Modern Family.” Slightly older fans will immediately think of Al Bundy from “Married… With Children.” And even older fans will remember Ed O’Neill as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Well, maybe not. Even the most die-hard Steelers fan probably has no idea that O’Neill, once a defensive end at Youngstown State University, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers in the summer of 1969.

O’Neill recalled the story earlier this week on “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” explaining why he’ll never forget the day he was cut by the Steelers.

O’Neill didn’t last long –- he was cut on July 21. No surprise. Not only was he an undrafted player, but the Steelers drafted the likes of Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood that year. Anyway, after cleaning out his locker, O’Neill explained, he went to the nearest pub to drown his sorrows. And as he did, the TV behind the bar showed the real news of the day: Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

Recalled O’Neill: “Looking up, I thought, ‘Well, someone had a good day.’”

— Craig Ellenport

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