In sports, stats can be empty accomplishments, and every franchise can’t be on the side of winning. The culture and the legacy of championships that the players build say a lot. No other team than the Pittsburgh Steelers from the early 1970s until now can say that they won with a wide array of influential players and greats.
The Best of the Best
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. The players drafted/developed or picked up via trade(rarely) speak to that the most. Currently, 26 players and counting are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (not including coaches, owners, etc.). Let’s start with impact.
There is no honor like a player leaving their mark on the game to the point there is a rule change involved. Many Steelers can claim that honor. What’s the ultimate goal most sports play the game for? Championships. The first area of the Pittsburgh Steelers to look at will be the game changers.
The Game Changers
Let’s have some fun with this. Mount Rushmore for the Steelers:
Joe Greene is the first game-changer on Mount Rushmore for the Steelers. Greene was selected in the 1st round as the 4th overall pick of the 1969 NFL Draft. With the Steelers, he was a 10x Pro Bowl selection, 4x All-Pro selection, 2x AP Defensive Player of the Year, 1979 Walter Payton Man of the year, 4x Super Bowl Champ, and 1987 Pro Hall of Fame Inductee.
The second game-changer would be Franco Harris. Harris was a workhorse in the run game throughout the titles in the 70s, and his accolades support that. He was a 9x Pro Bowl selection, 1x All-Pro selection, 4x Super Bowl Champ, 1x Super Bowl MVP, Hall of Fame All-1970s Team, 1972 Ap Offensive Rookie of the Year, 1976 Walter Payton Man of the year, and more. According to profootballhof.com, he got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
Troy Polamalu was such a game-changer that the Pittsburgh Steelers wasted no time in the 2003 NFL Draft by trading up to select him in the 1st round (16th overall). He became a Pro Bowl-caliber player and registered five interceptions, among other impactful stats. Polamalu was an 8x Pro Bowl Selection, 4x All-Pro Selection, 2x Super Bowl Champ, Hall of Fame 2000s Team Selection, 2010 Ap Defensive Player of the Year, and 2020 Hall of Fame Inductee.
Our final game-changer is Jerome Bettis. Bettis became a Steeler in 1996. He was 6x Pro Bowl Selection, 2x All-Pro Selection, 1996 Comeback Player of the Year, 1993 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2001 Walter Man of the year, 1x Super Bowl Champ, and 2015 Pro Hall of Fame Inductee.
The history of the Pittsburgh Steelers has players from different eras that all serve meaningful roles. These players listed will be more about the recognition that they hardly received.
Outside of Joe Greene, other defensive players were great, and you never knew. Donnie Shell is one of those players. Universally, Mel Blount defined the prototypical cornerback in the 1970s. Shell played cornerback and safety. He was a 5x Pro Selection, 3x All-Pro Selection, 4x Super Bowl Champ, and 2020 Pro Hall of Fame Inductee.
On the other side, offensive linemen often get little to no shine. “The best ability is availability” is an old saying. One Steeler comes to mind, and his name is Mike Webster. Webster played Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early 1970s, where he hardly missed games. He was a 9x Pro Bowl Selection, 5x All-Pro Selection, Hall of Fame 1970s Team Selection, Hall of Fame 1980s Team Selection, 4x Super Bowl Champ, and 1997 Pro Hall of Fame Inductee.
Heath Miller is an unforgotten player for the average Steelers fan. He was a blue-collar player, and the media hardly talked about him. Miller’s impact presented itself when drafted in the 2005 NFL Draft. His career ended with two Pro Bowl Selections and a two-time Super Bowl Champ.
There are a lot of players that could have been on these respective lists. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rich history made it hard to select. In closing, this is subjective, and other lists may look different. But this topic can spark several talks in the sports world.
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