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A Tribute: Best Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Players of All Time

Charles HoweCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2011

A Tribute: Best Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Players of All Time

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Steelers are historically a great defensive football team. The Steelers defensive prowess has caused the unit to be nicknamed "The Steel Curtain" and "Blitzburgh." 

    Just the mention of the Pittsburgh Steelers conjures up images of some of the greatest defensive units of all time. Just as can be expected, many great players played on these defensive units.

    What would a list of the 10 best Steelers defensive players look like?

    It's hard just to narrow the field down to 10 players. It's even harder to try to rank the remaining 10 players against each other. The following slides will attempt to accomplish that goal.

#10. Joey Porter

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Joey Porter is only one of two active players to make this list. He played with the Steelers from 1999-2006. During his time as a Steeler, he recorded 54 sacks and 10 interceptions.

    He was elected to the 2000s All-Decade Team for his efforts. While with Pittsburgh, he was voted to the Pro Bowl three times and was an All-Pro three times. He also helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XL.

#9. Carnell Lake

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    Carnell played mostly strong safety, but has filled in at cornerback at times. He played 10 seasons in Pittsburgh.

    He was a four time All Pro and was voted to the Pro Bowl five times. He was also honored as part of the 1990s All-Decade Team.

#8. Troy Polamalu

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    Troy Polamalu was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003; he did not become a starter until the following year. Despite only playing as a starter for six seasons, he was selected to the 2000s All-Decade team.

    Polamalu was also named the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Troy has been to the Pro Bowl six times and has been voted to the All-Pro Team four times, three to the first team... and he isn't even done yet.

#7. Ernie Stautner

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    The Steelers have retired Ernie Stautner's No.70 jersey number. He was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times and was voted to the All Pro Team 10 times. He played from 1950-1963 on a lot of forgettable Steelers' teams. He was a bright spot on an otherwise bad team. He is a member of the 1950s All-Decade Team.

    He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969.

#6. L.C. Greenwood

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    L.C. Greenwood was part of the great Steelers teams from the 1970s. He was named to the 1970s All-Decade Team.

    He has also been to six Pro Bowls and was honored as an All-Pro twice.

#5. Rod Woodson

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Woodson played with Pittsburgh for the first 10 seasons of his career.

    He went to seven of his 11 Pro Bowls as a Pittsburgh Steeler. He was also a first team All Pro six times, five while playing in Pittsburgh. He adds two second team All Pro nominations to that, one of which was while he was a Steeler.

    He was voted to the 1990s All-Decade Team and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2009.

#4. Mel Blount

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Mel Blount leads all Pittsburgh Steelers with 57 career interceptions as a Pittsburgh Steeler. He played from 1970-1983 and was a part of the Steelers dynasty in the 1970s.

    Blount was a six time All Pro, four times on first team. He appeared in five Pro Bowls, taking home MVP honors in 1976. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1975 and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1989.

#3. Jack Ham

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    Jack Ham is another player from the great Steelers' teams from the 1970s. 

    His honors include eight consecutive Pro Bowls from 1973-1980, six first team All Pro nominations, two second team All Pro nominations, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and 1970s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

#2. Jack Lambert

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    Lambert is another player that played on all four Super Bowl teams in the 1970s.

    He went to nine consecutive Pro Bowls from 1975-1983. He was nominated to the All Pro team eight times; seven of those nominations were to the first team. He is a member of the 1970s and 1980s All-Decade Teams. He was the 1974 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as the 1976 Defensive Player of the Year.

    Jack Lambert was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990.

#1. "Mean" Joe Greene

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    With a nickname like "Mean" Joe, how could he not be the greatest Steelers defensive player of all time?

    "Mean" Joe is also a four time Super Bowl champion. His accolades include seven Pro Bowls, five first team All Pro selections, three second team All Pro selections, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, 1970s All-Decade Team, 1969 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and a two time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1972 and 1974). he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987.

Honorable Mentions

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Some notable Steelers defenders had to be left off of this list. In no particular order, here are the honorable mentions:

    Dwight White, John Baker, Greg Lloyd, Andy Russell, Jack Butler, Donnie Shell, Jason Gildon, James Harrison, James Farrior, and Casey Hampton.

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