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The Ten Greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of All Time

November 30, 2017
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The Ten Greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of All Time

The Pittsburgh Steelers are blasting their way through this year’s competition and giving their supporters a real belief that this could most definitely be the year where their team brings home the Super Bowl once again. Sitting pretty at the top of AFC North, it’s hard to see them not winning their division with the Baltimore Ravens in second not looking like providing much of a challenge for top spot. A playoff position surely beckons the Black and Gold and there’s no doubt the loss to the New England Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship game, will be driving them forward and providing them with the fire they need to take it one step further this season.

The team from Pennsylvania have been extremely impressive so far this campaign and are now genuine title contenders to win their seventh Super Bowl. Although the Patriots are still the bookmakers first choice to lift the trophy come February, the Steelers continue to tighten their grip on the favourites as they look to seek revenge against the reigning champions. Currently, they are third in the title race according to the latest odds at +600, just behind the Philadelphia Eagles on +450. With the brilliant performances that this team continue to produce so far this season, even the casual bettor is getting behind them as they look to make a claim for Super Bowl VII.

That winning feeling is running all through the city at the moment and you can’t help but feel the impact that it’s having on the club’s loyal supporters. What better time than to take a look back at the Steelers’ legends that have inspired us in the past, and took wearing the jersey to an entirely new level. Here are the ten greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all time, the ones that will be remembered forever.

 

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No. 1 ‘Mean’ Joe Greene

Joe Greene was drafted by the Steelers in 1969 by a team that was searching for something special to change their fortune. To put it mildly, the defensive tackle was not happy to be playing for the Steelers and hated the idea of being on a team that was always losing. Greene was a winner and he wanted to play for a team that won, exactly what the club needed to get themselves out of the rut they were in. Locals were unfamiliar with the player too, one headline in the newspaper even read “Who’s Joe Greene?”. Little did Steelers’ fans know that he would become the single most important player in the team’s history, and change football in Pittsburgh forever.

In his first season, Greene was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, even though the team only won one game all season. This just seemed to agitate Joe more though, and he took out his anger on his opponents with an unstoppable power that left people in awe. He was a devastating force on the field, and coach Chuck Noll was happy to let him do so. There was even one incident where he challenged intimidating Chicago Bears’ linebacker Dick Butkus to a fight, which even Butkus flat out refused.

Greene showed the veterans on the team that losing was not acceptable and started the defensive dynasty that would later be known as The Steel Curtain. The side’s dominance in the 1970’s was unparallel to anything the NFL had seen before, and it was the youngster from North Texas State that started it all.

During his time with the Steelers he won four Super Bowls and was named Defensive Player of the Year twice in 1972 and 1974.  He is the player that all football fans will remember as the man who turned the Pittsburgh franchise into what it is today. For this “Mean” Joe Greene comes in as the greatest Steeler in the history of all time.

 

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No. 2 Terry Bradshaw

It was a stroke of luck that landed Bradshaw at the Steelers, when they won a coin toss with the Chicago Bears and were subsequently awarded the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft. No one knew it at the time, but he would go on to become the most coveted player of the next decade.

It wasn’t all strawberries and cream for the boy from Louisiana in the beginning though, and he was heavily criticized for his inconsistency and poor decision making. The media was harsh and he was even booed by his own fans at times. After struggling early on, he was eventually replaced by Joe Gilliam at starting QB and found it difficult to get any game time at all.

Luckily for Terry, coach Chuck Noll wasn’t a fan of Gilliam’s lack of running plays and made the move for Bradshaw to come back into the starting roster. By the end of that year, it was obvious that this was the man who was going to lead the Steelers’ offense for the future. As his game continued to mature it was clear to see his natural talent and fantastic ability to read and control the game.

Where Bradshaw made his biggest impact and gave himself superstar status in the city of Pittsburgh, was in the crucial games when everything was on the line. In all four of their Super Bowl victories in the 70’s, he threw a touchdown pass in the final quarter. He was a league MVP in 1978, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and threw for 27, 989 yards with 212 touchdowns. His arm was incredibly strong and accurate throughout his career, and although he had a tendency to throw interceptions, he will always be remembered for making the big plays when it counted.

 

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No. 3 Jack Lambert

When Lambert joined the Steelers he was 6’4″ and 210 lbs, approximately the same size as a modern-day wide receiver. The local media were quick to jump on his build and suggested that he would be a bust due to his small physique. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

After linebacker Henry Davis was injured, Lambert got his chance to silence the naysayers. It wasn’t long before he became the meanest LB in the NFL, winning the Rookie of the Year along the way. He was the most intimidating and toughest player in football during his playing days and was named All-Pro six times equaling the team’s record.

Once when safety Cliff Harris from the Dallas Cowboys attempted to mock injured kicker Roy Gerela for missing a field goal, Lambert immediately threw him to the ground to stamp his authority. In the process, he inspired his defensive teammates, and the Steelers went on to dominate the rest of the game. He was instrumental in setting the tone for the defensive style associated with the team to this day and set the standard for how linebackers will forever be measured.

 

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No. 4 Franco Harris

No player had such an immediate impact on the team as fullback Franco Harris. In 1972 he was awarded the Rookie of the Year and helped the Steelers to their first championship of any kind when they won the AFC Central division. Pittsburgh had only made one previous postseason appearance with no victories in 38 seasons prior to Harris’ arrival, and he was a key part in helping the team to their first playoffs since 1947.

It was the start of the golden era for the franchise and the Steelers went on to make eight straight playoff appearances including four Super Bowls. He still holds the record for most career rushing yards in Super Bowl history with a staggering 354, and is tied for most rushing yard touchdowns with four. He also won the MVP in Super Bowl IX, after completing 158 yards rushing, a new record at the time.

 

Source: Pittsburgh Sporting News via Facebook.

 

No. 5 “The Bus” Jerome Bettis

Starting off his career with the Los Angeles Rams, Bettis eventually made the move to Pittsburgh via trade in 1996, and the Steelers faithful will be forever grateful he did. He was undeniably the best running back in NFL history for his size, which he used on countless occasions to steamroll through his opponents. It didn’t affect his ability to sidestep or outrun players though, and he terrorized defenses on a regular basis.

Bettis made it to six NFL Pro Bowls and finished his career as the fifth all-time leading rusher in NFL history with 13,662 yards. The crowd favorite earned himself two First-Team All-Pro selections and was lucky enough to retire holding the Lombardi Trophy after the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2005.

 

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No. 6 Troy Polamalu

One of the greatest safeties to ever play in the NFL, Polamalu spent all of his 12 seasons at the Steelers where he redefined the position in a way that changed it forever. He had the ability to impact the game in every way and had a knack for anticipating what the opposition’s next move would be. Polamalu made a habit of making special plays at key moments during the match and was a driving force that rallied his teammates when their defense was struggling.

He finished his career with two Super Bowls, eight Pro Bowl selections, and four First-Team All-Pro honors. In 2010 he was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year and was named in the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team.

 

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No. 7 Rod Woodson

Woodson joined the Steelers at the end of a golden era and the beginning of another and was the key player of the “Blitzburgh” period which brought a new wave of success to the franchise. He was the complete package for a cornerback; great hands, ability to tackle, physical enough to play press coverage, and fast enough to play man-to-man.

In 1993 he won the Defensive Player of the Year award and famously came back from a torn ACL in the same season to play for the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Woodson left the Steelers after Tom Donahue refused to resign the player in 1999. Dan Rooney said it was one of his biggest regrets not to keep Woodson a Steeler for his whole career. He eventually went on to win the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams in 2000.

 

Source: Hines Ward via Facebook.

 

No. 8 Hines Ward  

Ward was the most physical wide receiver of the modern era in the NFL, comparable with fellow great Jack Lambert in terms of toughness and ability. He spent his entire 14 seasons wearing the black and gold jersey, and although he wasn’t the biggest player on the field, he had no problem laying his body on the line to block his opposition.

By the time he retired, he had amassed 12,083 career receiving yards, 1000 receptions, 85 touchdowns, and four Pro-Bowl selections. He famously caught a 43-yard touchdown reception in Super Bowl XL during the fourth quarter to help guide the Steelers to victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

 

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No. 9 Jack Ham

Jack Ham was a part of the team that won the Steelers’ first silverware of any kind. In the 1974 AFC Championship game, the score was locked at 10-10 in the final quarter when Ham intercepted a pass and brought it back 19 yards with a blazing run, finishing up on the 9-yard line. This was the play that ultimately set Bradshaw up for his six-yard touchdown pass and secure Pittsburgh’s first championship of any kind.

He was solid as a rock at the back and contained outside runners with ease. The outside linebacker wasn’t as dynamic as fellow teammate Jack Lambert, but he played the game with a certain class that made him great to watch. He is one of only four Steelers to be named an First-Team All-Pro at least six times.

 

Source: Life Long Steelers Fan via Facebook.

 

No. 10 Greg Lloyd

Lloyd was renowned for his ferocious hits as a linebacker and was always a fan favorite amongst the crowd. However, he didn’t have a great relationship with the media and some say it cost him votes when they announced the NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team.

He was named All-Pro five times and was selected in the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team as part of the franchise’s 75th season celebrations.

There are countless incredible Steelers players that have graced us with their ability over the years, definitely too many to mention. Now the time comes for the new batch of stars to mark their mark in history, as the set their sights on Super Bowl LII.

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