The Pittsburgh Steelers All Time Team

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a football franchise with a rich history and tradition of excellence. With six Super Bowl appearances and five wins in the big one, they’ve obviously had their share of great players. So which Pittsburgh Steelers deserve to be a part of their all- time team?

First, one fan’s rules:

1) Defense will be capable of going 4-3 or 3-4 (there will be 2 defensive tackles and 2 inside linebackers, equating to 12 players).

2) Offense will have three wide receivers and two running backs, equating to 12 players. This will be done in order to allow for more traditional offenses as well as the wide- open passing options of today.

3) When the decision was difficult between the chosen player and another, an honorable mention section was added in order to discuss the reasoning why one player was chosen instead of another (while still highlighting the honorable mention selection).


QB- Terry Bradshaw- Bradshaw won all four Super Bowls he competed in. Further, he was one of the best long throwers in NFL history. During his career he threw for 27,989 yards and 212 touchdowns and found himself in the top ten in passing yards five times and passing touchdowns ten. Even better was his pressure play; in nineteen postseason games he threw for 3,835 yards and 30 touchdowns (and took home the Super Bowl MVP award in XIII and XIV). There’s nobody even close to him, thus far, in Steelers history. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

RB-Franco Harris-A model of toughness and consistency, at one point Harris was the all- time leading career NFL rushing leader (until Walter Payton overtook him in 1984). His 12,120 career rushing yards and 91 career rushing touchdowns tell a good deal of the story. However, his penchant for running in bad weather, MVP performance in Super Bowl IX, and four Super Bowl rings seem to tell the rest. He was a 9 time Pro Bowl player and of course, a Hall of Famer.

RB-Jerome Bettis-A very powerful runner throughout his career with the Steelers, yet deceptively quick. Bettis is beloved in Pittsburgh for his great leadership, quick wit, consistent play, and goal line effectiveness. Like Harris, the recently retired Bettis was also known for his strong running in bad weather. All the career regular season numbers are pretty close between he and Harris, even favoring Jerome slightly (career rushing yards- 13,662 and touchdowns- 91), until of course we get to the postseason. Still, Bettis never had the same team around him as Harris did (hell, no one ever did). Jerome made the Pro Bowl 6 times during his illustrious career.

WR- Lynn Swann- Forget the career stats when it comes to Lynn Swann (especially considering he had a short career from 1974-1982). The fact is when we talk about Swannie, we’re talking about one of the best wide receivers of all time. He revolutionized the game when it came to his graceful leaping, overall athleticism, and astounding ability to catch a ball in traffic. Though he only made the Pro Bowl 3 times, he always came through- usually in a big way- when the game truly counted. His MVP performance in Super Bowl X (4 receptions, 161 yards, and a touchdown after suffering a severe concussion in the AFC Championship game against the Raiders before it) and winning touchdown catch in the AFC Championship his rookie year seem to punctuate this statement nicely. For his career, he had 336 receptions, 5,462 yards, and 51 touchdowns. Swann entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

WR- John Stallworth- A clutch and steady performer for the Steelers from 1974-87. Stallworth was the all- time career leader in receptions for the Steelers with 537 (for an impressive 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns) until Hines Ward surpassed his receptions total in 2005. Stallworth played in 4 Pro Bowls for his career and was the two time team MVP. Though he never won a Super Bowl MVP award, Stallworth did play very well in the clutch as outlined by his memorable 75 yard touchdown reception against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII and 121 yard effort against the Rams in the following Super Bowl. Stallworth entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

WR- Hines Ward- He’s the all- time reception leader for the Steelers (574) and took home the Super Bowl XL MVP award. Despite this and his three team MVP awards, he may be underrated. He has 7,030 yards receiving and 52 touchdown receptions for his career, and was named to 4 straight Pro Bowls from 2001-04. In addition, he’s an excellent runner and thrower (he played quarterback in college), which allows the current Steelers to execute all types of trick plays. Even better, he’s the best blocking wide receiver in the game today, and may be the best of all- time in that regard. When it’s all said and done, Ward will receive consideration as possibly the best Steelers wide receiver of all- time.

TE- Elbie Nickel- An oldie but a goodie, Nickel played for the Steelers from 1947-57. He made the Pro Bowl three times (in 1952, 53, and 56) and despite the era he played in, his 329 career receptions, 37 touchdowns, and 5,131 yards lead all Steeler tight ends (beating Green, Cunningham, and Bruener for their careers as a Steeler). Clearly the best stats of the crop.

C- Mike Webster- A long time member of the Steelers, Webster holds the longest tenure with the team (15 years, 220 games). A strong and durable offensive lineman, he started 150 consecutive games from 1975- 1986 until a dislocated elbow forced him out. Webster played in all 4 of the Steelers Super Bowl wins in the 70’s and became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. He is also a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All- Time Team (only one of two centers chosen).

More Than Just an Honorable Mention- C- Dermontti Dawson-Played his entire career in Pittsburgh black and gold. Dawson was an elite athlete, helping to redefine the center position as one where pulling and trapping was possible (up until him centers rarely left their spot in front of the quarterback). He was also unbelievably durable, playing in 171 consecutive games until hamstring injuries forced him out in 1999. Dawson played in 7 Pro Bowls and will undoubtedly be voted into the Hall of Fame.

The reality is, both Dawson and Webster were very durable. Dawson was the better athlete, while Webster was the stronger player. Who deserves the nod? Of all decisions this was clearly the most difficult to make. They both were just flat out great, so one can’t go wrong (or right, looking at it from another standpoint). After changing about three times, I went with the player who played in more Pro Bowls, had the longer Steelers tenure, and won 4 Super Bowls. However, picking Dawson would not have been wrong.

OG- Alan Faneca-A six time Pro Bowl player with the current squad, Faneca dominates at the point of attack and could possibly be the best guard in the game today. He’s one of only two deserving current players and is an elite run blocker.

OG- Bruce Van Dyke- Played in the 1974 Pro Bowl and was named All Pro two times in his career. Van Dyke played with the team from 1967-73 and was traded away before the start of the next season by Noll’s Steelers (boy did he miss out on the best of times). When he played, he was known as one of the best pulling guards in football. Because Van Dyke didn’t play on those great teams, he’s often forgotten, despite an excellent 10 year career.

Honorable Mention- OG- Sam Davis- Solid in all aspects of the game, Davis was an excellent player on those great teams of the 70’s. It seems that several solid offensive linemen from the great 70’s teams- other than Webster- were left out of Pro Bowl play. Davis competed with the team from 1967-79.

It was a tough call between Van Dyke and Davis. Davis was a very good, consistent player who competed in Pittsburgh for longer than Van Dyke, but I believe that Van Dyke was a slightly better player.

OT- Jon Kolb-Big hitter for an offensive lineman. He was a part of some of those great Steelers teams of the 70’s. Small by today’s standards (about 250), but he certainly didn’t play like it. Kolb played with the team from 1969-81. Although he never competed in the Pro Bowl, he did garner All AFC honors from other publications a few times. A better player than he was given credit for, and extremely durable.

OT- Larry Brown- Played with the Steelers from 1971-81. Another from that great team of the 70’s, Brown was an outstanding pass protector, though sometimes went unnoticed (unless of course your name is Terry Bradshaw).

Honorable Mention- OT- Tunch Ilkin- An undersized, hard working tackle for the Steelers from 1980-92. Ilkin, now a sports broadcaster and radio commentator following the team, made the Pro Bowl in 1989 and 1990. He never got a chance to play in the Super Bowl or the biggest of stages like Larry Brown did, but he was a highly respected athlete during his playing days.


DT- “Mean” Joe Greene- Big, fast, strong, determined, and real, real tough, Greene had it all. This intimidating presence was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969 and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1972 and 1974, making 10 Pro Bowls during his illustrious career. He also came up very big in big spots. In 1974, Greene played unfathomably well against Minnesota in the Super Bowl-netting an interception and fumble recovery-as his team held the Vikings to a mere 17 yards rushing. Greene would be a consideration for any all- time NFL team, let alone the Steelers (he did make the NFL 75th Anniversary All- Time Team). He’s a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1987).

DT- Ernie Stautner- This Hall of Fame Steeler was a shining star on some pretty poor teams. During his 13 year NFL career from 1950-63, he made the Pro Bowl nine times. Though diminutive in relation to today’s standards- he was only 6’1 and 235 lbs.- Stautner’s great play during his era lands him ahead of recent Pittsburgh interior defensive linemen that were unable to dominate in anywhere near the same fashion. Stautner was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969 and is still the only Steeler to ever have his jersey truly retired.

DE- L.C. Greenwood- This six time Pro Bowl player was one of the original members of the vaunted Steel Curtain defensive line of the 1970’s. Though the Hall of Fame has eluded him to this point, no one can deny his dominance. During his 12 year career from 1969-81, he accumulated 73.5 sacks (an unofficial stat for that era). In addition, he showed greatness when it counted, sacking Roger Staubach three times during Super Bowl X.

DE- Dwight White- This two time Pro Bowl player was another one of the original members of the vaunted Steel Curtain defensive line of the 1970’s. During his nine year professional career from 1971-1980, he played for all four Super Bowl Championship teams. He was a better player than he was ever given credit for.

MLB- Jack Lambert- One of the most dominant and intimidating defensive presences in NFL history. In fact, let me say it again- intimidating. Played with the Steelers from 1974-85 and started every single year. Lambert was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1974, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976, and played in 9 straight Pro Bowls (from 1975- 83). He was also named to the NFL’s All Time 75th Anniversary Team and is a Hall of Famer. A vicious hitter, what people don’t seem to know is that he was also good in coverage (28 career interceptions). The gap between his front teeth only added to the persona.

ILB- Levon Kirkland- A huge, two time All Pro linebacker for the 90’s Steelers. Kirkland was the kind of guy that you simply couldn’t move out of there even if you got to him. He had 4 interceptions in 1996, lending to the fact that he was actually a better pass defender than he was given credit for. Kirkland played for the Steelers from 1992-2000 and had 625 tackles while with the team. He was also a member of the 1990’s All Decade Team.

OLB- Jack Ham- A Hall of Fame (1988) and 8 time Pro Bowl player, Ham is one of the very best of all time. Though his sack total is hardly impressive in comparison to today’s outside linebacker standards- the times were different and backers didn’t rush nearly as much when he played- his 21 fumble recoveries and 32 interceptions from 1971-82 surely are impressive in any era. Ham was smart, great in coverage, and a very solid tackler. Of course, he was also a member of those great 70’s Steelers defenses.

OLB- Greg Lloyd- Destined for the Hall of Fame until injuries took hold, Lloyd was an absolutely ferocious hitter and a verbal leader for the 90’s Steelers teams. He made the Pro Bowl 5 times from 1991-95, and in Super Bowl XXX he accumulated 8 tackles. Lloyd was also voted team MVP twice in his career and led the team the same amount of times in tackles. In 1994 he was named the Defensive Player of the Year by United Press International and the Kansas City 101 Club. He was also an excellent pass rusher.

Honorable Mention- OLB- Andy Russell- A consistently excellent player for the early Steelers, Russell made the Pro Bowl 7 times in his career from 1963-76. He was intelligent, a good teammate, and solid tackler. He had no real flaws in his game.

Some will disagree with this pick, but I believe that during his prime Lloyd was something to behold. The way he intimidated with his hitting and overall ferocity lands him ahead of an excellent player that I have nothing bad to say about. It’s just that Lloyd had the ability to dominate games from an individual standpoint more so than Russell in my opinion.

CB- Mel Blount- Was the corner everyone coveted during his playing days in Coal Town (1970-83). Blount, a rare combination of excellent speed, strength, and size played in 5 Pro Bowls and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1975. For his stellar career, Blount took 51 interceptions and 13 fumbles from opposing teams. He also ran for 911 yards on 36 kickoff returns. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

CB- Rod Woodson- What an athlete! Here was a corner who was equally capable of stealing your eye- teeth as well as knocking your quarterback out of the game on a blitz. From 1987- 96 while playing for the Steelers, Woodson accumulated 38 interceptions and 5 TD’s off of them. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 after an 8 interception season. For his total career- he played safety later on for the 49ers, Ravens, and Raiders- Woodson accumulated 71 interceptions, 32 fumble recoveries, and 2,362 punt return yards (he was an outstanding punt returner). Further, Woodson is tied for the NFL record for career interception returns for touchdowns (12), and is the sole leader in interception return yards (1,483 yards). This 11 time Pro Bowl player is on his way to the Hall.

S- Donnie Shell- This five time Pro Bowl player competed for the Steelers from 1974-87. He could both hit and cover. Upon his retirement, he was the career interception leader for strong safeties with 51, and was a consistent force on those great teams of the 70’s.

S- Carnell Lake- Another five time Pro Bowl safety, Lake played for the Steelers from 1989-98 before brief stints with the Jaguars and Ravens. He was a good hitter (he played linebacker at UCLA before his professional career and even held the team record for sacks in a season with 13 for a time). Lake was also solid in coverage, selfless, and versatile (he played corner for the team when he needed them to despite his Pro Bowl status at another position). He accumulated 25 sacks and 16 interceptions for his career.

Special Teams

K- Gary Anderson- Made 309 of his 537 career field goals with Pittsburgh and made 80% of his field goal attempts for his entire career. He also made 416 PAT’s while with the Steelers and went 820/ 827 for his career. He was a member of the 1980’s and 1990’s All Decade Teams.

P- Bobby Walden- Played with the Steelers from 1968-77. He played in the Pro Bowl in 1970 and was named All Pro in 1974. Walden averaged 41.1 yards per punt for his NFL career. In reference to his athletic talents, Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton once said, “Bobby was the greatest punter I’ve ever seen.”


Chuck Noll- There is really no way to pick anyone else considering the success he had. Noll went 193-148-1 during his career in the regular season and 16-8 in the playoffs. In the biggest of games he was at his best, accumulating a 4-0 Super Bowl record and a 4-3 record in AFC Championship games. Before Noll got there, the Steelers were known as loveable losers. While he was there they became perhaps the best team in NFL history.

Honorable Mention- Coach- Bill Cowher- As was said earlier, there is really no way to give this to Cowher, but he still deserves notice. Despite the fact that he’s lost so many All- Pro players to free agency during his career, Cowher just keeps on winning. He’s accumulated a 141-82-1 regular season record and 12-9 post season record for his career. He hasn’t necessarily been at his best in the biggest of games going 2-4 in AFC Championship games and 1-1 in Super Bowls, but then again he never had anywhere near the talent his predecessor had. Cowher is a great coach that with one or two more Super Bowl wins might be able to enter the conversation here.

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