10 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Made the Jump to Broadcasting
Ward is not the first Steeler to commentate or analyze football on the professional level—many Steelers have made the transition to Sunday mouthpieces about the weekly gridiron.
Here are 10 Pittsburgh Steelers past and present who made the jump to the pre-game roundtable after ending their career on the field.
10. Mark Malone
Position: Quarterback (1980-1987)
Anyone having to succeed Terry Bradshaw at quarterback was going to have to live up to high expectations, but Malone managed to throw for 8,582 yards during the 80s for Pittsburgh, guiding the Steelers to a 1984 AFC Championship game appearance against Miami. He even completed 80 percent of his passes in a game that same season against San Diego.
After being traded to the Chargers and then later to the Jets, Malone retired from football in 1989 and worked as a sportscaster locally in Pittsburgh before being picked up by ESPN to host various programs such as NFL Live and NFL Matchup until 2004 when he took a job as a sports director for WBBM-TV in Chicago.
9. Merrill Hoge
Position: Fullback (1987-1993)
During his seven seasons carrying the ball in Pittsburgh, Hoge accumulated 3,115 yards on 825 carries and even set a team record for receptions by a running back with 50 in 1988. He also became the second running back in Steelers history to rush for more than 100 yards in two consecutive playoff games (the other being Franco Harris). Not to mention, he led the team in rushing and receiving during four of his seasons with the Steelers.
In 1994, Hoge signed with Chicago, but only played in five games with the Bears before having to retire prematurely due to post-concussion syndrome and brain injury. Like Malone, he was soon picked up by ESPN in 1995 and since then has provided analysis for a variety of football programs on the network from SportsCenter to now NFL32.
8. Rod Woodson
Position: Defensive Back (1987-1996)
He might have won his Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2001, but the prime of Woodson's career was spent in Pittsburgh where he had 38 interceptions over his 10-year span with the team. But Woodson's savvy play at cornerback was not his only contribution to the Steelers—he was a constant threat to opposing teams as a punt and kick returner. As a Steeler, he returned 325 kicks and amassed over 7,000 all purpose yards.
He returned from an ACL tear in 1995 (the same year as the injury) to compete in Super Bowl XXX, where he famously broke up a pass to Michael Irvin and popped up to his feet immediately, demonstrating how healthy his knee was.
After retiring from football in 2003, Woodson became an analyst for the NFL Network until 2011 when he joined the Oakland Raiders as defensive backs coach for one season before rejoining the NFL Network in 2012.
7. Kordell Stewart
Position: Quarterback (predominantly, 1997-2003)
Kordell Stewart found himself back in the Pittsburgh headlines for the first time in 10 years as he announced his official retirement this week. During his eight seasons with the Steelers, Stewart went from being "Slash" to being the team's starting quarterback, having stand out years in 1997 and 2001. The 2001 season was statistically his best season as he guided the Steelers to the AFC Championship game.
After his release from the Ravens in 2005 and subsequent inactivity, Stewart joined ESPN as a college and pro football analyst, where he still appears in various programs today.
6. Jerome Bettis
Position: Running Back (1996-2005)
Rushing for at least 1,000 yards in his first six seasons with the Steelers, Bettis became the modern day Franco Harris for the Steelers, and even in his later years with the team became an effective short yardage running back and clock manager with his consistent gains near the end of games.
In 2006, he joined NBC's Sunday Night Football staff as an analyst and remained in that position through the 2008 season and now appears frequently for the NFL Network.
5. Tony Dungy
Position: Defensive Back (1977-1979)
Although his recognition throughout the NFL today is due to his success in coaching, Dungy was a fierce quarterback-turned defensive back for the Steelers during their last couple of years of dominance in the 70s. During the 1978 season alone, he led Pittsburgh in interceptions with six en route to the Steelers' third Super Bowl victory.
Dungy's career as a player ended in 1980 with the Giants, but he returned to Pittsburgh as a defensive backs coach and later defensive coordinator under Chuck Noll until he moved on to Kansas City in 1989.
He retired from coaching in 2009 and signed with NBC's Sunday Night Football team to work the pre-game discussion for Football Night in America.
4. Lynn Swann
Position: Wide Receiver (1974-1982)
Exploding into the league in 1974, Swann became a standout rookie by leading the league with 577 punt return yards and by 1975 he was dominating the league at the wide out position, posting 49 receptions for 781 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was the MVP of Super Bowl IX with 161 yards on only four catches.
Super Bowl's XIII and XIV proved to be just as fertile for Swann's receiving display as he accumulated over 200 yards combined in both Steelers victories.
He ended his career in Pittsburgh after the 1982 season and shifted full time (he had already been pulling double duty since 1976) to broadcasting for ABC Sports and Monday Night Football until 2006.
3. Terry Bradshaw
Position: Quarterback (1970-1983)
For fourteen seasons, Terry Bradshaw was a terror from the pocket on the field and character of hilarity of off it, throwing for 27,989 yards and 212 touchdown passes at the helm of the first four of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl victories. He also produced such great sound bytes such as "I may be dumb, but I'm not Stupid," and “When Brian told me he grew up in New Mexico, I told him I thought it is cool that people from other countries play football. He corrected me on my geography and agreed to sit down with me anyway.”
An elbow injury ended his career after the 1983 season, but Bradshaw would be signed by CBS to color commentate NFL games alongside Verne Lundquist. He would remain with CBS until 1994 when he joined FOX NFL Sunday and has remained there ever since.
2. Bill Cowher
Position: Head Coach (1992-2006)
Beginning a new era of Steelers football in 1992, Bill Cowher quickly turned Pittsburgh back into one of the elite teams in the AFC, posting 10 win seasons in five of his first six years. He took the Steelers back to the Super Bowl in 1996, falling short to the Dallas Cowboys but would avenge that championship loss 10 years later with a victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL.
Cowher would only coach one more season after the Steelers' fifth Super Bowl victory and would retire after the 2006 campaign.
In February of 2007, he joined the analyst team on The NFL Today on CBS and has remained there ever since, despite rumors of him possibly coming back to coaching.
1. Hines Ward
Position: Wide Receiver (1998-2011)
Besides achieving all-time Steelers milestone in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, the MVP of Super Bowl XL was also regarded as one of the fiercest blocking wide receivers in the league (much to the chagrin of other teams, see "The Hines Ward Rule").
Ward's 2011-12 season saw him not only win ABC's Dancing With The Stars but also become the 19th player in NFL history to accumulate 12,000 receptions and the eighth player to achieve 10,000 receptions.
Instead of venturing into free agency following the Steeler's release of him in the 2012 offseason, Ward opted to retire from football, completing his 14-year career in Pittsburgh from beginning to end.
He will join the Football Night in America staff for NBC starting with the 2012 NFL season.