The Top 10 Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receivers of All Time
When you are a team that has the history of being the greatest defensive team of all time, it is hard to get a lot of credit when you are an offensive player.
Then, when your offense has always been known as a run-oriented team, it becomes even harder for you if you are not a running back.
Currently, the Pittsburgh Steelers have two players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame that played the least recognizable position in the history of the Steelers, wide receiver.
So, who are the best of the position Steelers are LEAST known for? Here are the top 10 Steelers receivers of all time.
10 - Yancey Thigpen
Yancey Thigpen was drafted in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. After one season in San Diego, Thigpen was released after only playing in four games and haing no receptions.
Though he was signed by the Steelers, he only had 10 receptions in his next two years.
It was in 1994 that Thigpen became a regular contributor, but it was 1995 when he had his first breakout season for the Steelers with 85 receptions for 1,307 yards.
After an injury-marred 1996, Thigpen had his best professional season with 1,398 yards on 79 receptions.
That was his final year with the Steelers, and his last good year in the NFL. Thigpen then signed with the Titans, where he played for three years.
Thigpen was a two-time Pro Bowl player and finished his Steelers career with 222 receptions for 5,081 yards and 30 touchdowns.
9 - Buddy Dial
Buddy Dial was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round (22nd) of the 1959 NFL Draft, but was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dial played for the Steelers for only five years, but held the record for most receiving touchdowns by a Steeler with 12.
Dial made All-Pro honors three times and went to the Pro Bowl twice.
He finished his Steelers career with 219 receptions for 4,723 yards and 42 touchdowns.
He was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, but injuries had derailed his career.
8 - Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson was selected by the Steelers in the 1994 NFL Draft in the first round (17th overall).
He was the Steelers' leading receiver leading up to their Super Bowl XXX matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.
Though he was never in the Pro Bowl (the Steelers ran the ball FAR too much under Bill Cowher in the beginning for CJ to make the Pro Bowl), he is currently eighth on the Steelers all time receiving list.
He finished his career in Pittsburgh with 3,400 receiving yards on 247 catches and 15 touchdowns.
He did play an additional four years in the NFL (Philadelphia, Buffalo, and New England), but never had the statistics that he had in Pittsburgh.
7 - Roy Jefferson
Roy Jefferson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round (18th overall) in the 1965 NFL Draft.
Jefferson was also drafted in the second round of the AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.
He chose to play with the Steelers, and became a three-time Pro Bowl player, and was selected to the first team All-Pro once.
Jefferson's best years came in 1968 and 1969, both with the Steelers, where he had 58 receptions for 1,074 yards and 11 touchdowns in 1968. He followed that season up with 67 receptions for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns.
After leaving the Steelers to join the Baltimore Colts in 1970, Jefferson then went to the Washington Redskins, and played there for six seasons—none as good as his time in Pittsburgh.
Jefferson finished his Steelers career with 199 receptions for 3,671 yards and 29 touchdowns.
6 - Santonio Holmes
Santonio Holmes joined the Steelers in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He is only the second player in the history of the Steelers that the organization traded up in the first round to draft (Troy Polamalu is the other).
Having played four years in Pittsburgh, Holmes never was selected to the Pro Bowl, but he was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII.
The Steelers decided to part ways with Holmes this past offseason, due to his off-field problems. He is suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season due to substance abuse.
Holmes finished his Steelers career with 3,835 yards on 235 receptions and 20 touch downs.
5 - Plaxico Burress
When selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Burress was supposed to be the game-changer at receiver the Steelers desperately needed.
The Steelers had spent their first round pick in 1999 on failed receiver Troy Edwards, and Hines Ward was just becoming starting quality himself.
When Ben Roethlisberger joined the Steelers, he only had one year with Plax, but Burress was obviously his favorite target. With amazing height and leaping ability, Burress was lethal in the red zone.
Had Burress not had the attitude he had, and was willing to stay in Pittsburgh, he may have been as high as No. 2 on this list.
Burress finished his Steelers career with 261 receptions for 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns.
4 - Louis Lipps
Louis Lipps was supposed to make Steelers fans forget about, or at least get over, the retirements of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
Though he was a great player, those shoes were just a little too big for him to fill.
Lipps was also on a team that was in transition. The Steelers that dominated the '70s were old by the time Lipps joined the team in the first round (23rd overall) of the 1984 draft.
The Steel Curtain was gone, the quarterback situation was a joke, the running game was not even a shell of what it used to be.
Still, Lipps ends up fourth on my list of Greatest Steelers Receivers Ever.
Lipps did qualify for the Pro Bowl twice, and finished his career with 358 receptions for 6,018 yards and 39 touchdowns.
(We won't count his one year in New Orleans when he had one reception for one yard in two games)
3 - Lynn Swann
When you watch highlights of the Steelers '70s Super Bowls, odds are most of the receptions you see will be from Lynn Swann.
Swann made the hard, acrobatic catches that most people could only dream of.
He was the first round draft pick (21st) of the famed 1974 draft class, out of USC. Swann was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and was First Team All-Pro once.
Swann finished his Steelers career in 1982 with 336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
2 - John Stallworth
John Stallworth was seen by many as the second to Lynn Swann. Not me.
Stallworth was big, fast, and strong, and many times he was the main target of Terry Bradshaw.
The main difference between Swann and Stallworth was Stallworth was quiet and humble, while Swann was flashy.
Stallworth joined the Steelers in the fourth round of their famed 1974 draft, from Alabama A&M.
He Finished his career as the leading receiver in Steelers history with 537 receptions for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns.
Stallworth was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He was a four-time Pro Bowl player, and All-Pro once.
1 - Hines Ward
After joining the Steelers in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft, Hines Ward was not even guaranteed a roster spot.
Ward had to earn his spot by playing on special teams, and that is when Steelers Nation started to know and love Hines Ward.
He played special teams with the reckless abandon that I expected to see a number like 56 (linebacker) on him more than 86 (receiver).
He showed his heart and determination, earning his playing time.
Once Ward became a normal receiver, he developed into the statistical best receiver in the history of the Steelers.
Currently, Ward hold the record for Steelers receivers with 895 receptions for 10,947 yards, and 78 touchdowns.
Hines Ward has been to the Pro Bowl four times (2001-2004), has been an All-Pro selection three times (2002-2004), and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL.