25 Greatest Players in Pittsburgh Steelers History

Justin WeltonAnalyst IIAugust 19, 2011

25 Greatest Players in Pittsburgh Steelers History

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    Looking at how many NFL Hall of Famers the Pittsburgh Steelers have in franchise history, one would suggest that coming up with a list of the 25 greatest Steelers of all time would be a hard thing to accomplish.

    That is what I am attempting to do in this article.

    Most of these players are either already in the Hall of Fame or are Hall of Fame-bound, most have won Super Bowls with the Steelers and most hail from one era—the 1970s.

    Here are the 25 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all time.

25. Rocky Bleier, Running Back

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    Rocky Bleier was a special person at heart. After playing one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bleier decided to help his country at war. He joined the United States Army and served in Vietnam.

    Bleier played with the Steelers in 1968 and 1971-1980.

    His heart and good human nature provided the team with a lift once he was able to re-join the team. He won four Super Bowls.

24. James Harrison, Linebacker

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    James Harrison has been a beast since given the opportunity to play with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002.

    He has been a four-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro and a two-time Super Bowl champion. Harrison was named the AP 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.

    Harrison has collected 488 tackles, 49 sacks and five interceptions in his career.  

23. Carnell Lake, Safety

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    Carnell Lake was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.

    Lake played in the Steel City from 1989-1998.

    He was a five-time Pro Bowler, first-team All-Pro in 1997 and Defensive Player of the Year in the same year.

    The only thing missing from Lake's resume is a Super Bowl ring.

22. Greg Lloyd, Linebacker

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    Greg Lloyd is another outstanding linebacker to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Lloyd played with the Steelers from 1988-1997.

    He holds 54.5 sacks in his NFL career to go along with 11 interceptions.

    Lloyd is a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and was the 1994 AFC Defensive Player of the Year.

21. Donnie Shell, Safety

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    Donnie Shell is one of the greatest Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs in the history of the franchise.

    He played with the Steelers from 1974-1987.

    Shell was a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl champion.

    He collected 51 interceptions throughout his career.

    I give him the nod slightly over Carnell Lake because he won four Super Bowls compared to Lake's zero. However, he played on a much better team back in the 1970s—nevertheless, he has four.

20. Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback

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    Ben Roethlisberger and his critics don't know how to rank him as a player. They look at his position and want to believe that he isn't better than others at getting the job done.

    Sure, he isn't the best pocket-passer, he isn't the best at reading the defense and he isn't the best role model.

    He is great at one thing, though—winning.

    Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls, both with mediocre-to-average offensive lines. His ability to scramble around, avoid pressure and make plays is what gets overlooked.

    He has thrown for 22,502 yards and 144 touchdowns since 2004. Roethlisberger will destroy Terry Bradshaw's franchise record, 27,989 yards.

19. Alan Faneca, Offensive Lineman

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    Alan Faneca was named to the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team.

    He played with the Steelers from 1998-2007, winning one Super Bowl.

    Faneca was a nine-time Pro Bowler, nine-time All-Pro and was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

    He started 201 out of 206 games in his career.

18. Jack Butler, Cornerback

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    Jack Butler was named to the All-Time Pittsburgh Steelers Team. He played with Pittsburgh from 1951-1959.

    He was a four-time Pro Bowler during his stay with Pittsburgh.

    Butler was named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team.

17. Andy Russell, Linebacker

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    Andy Russell doesn't get his due as a great Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker nationally, because he played the majority of his career in a poor Steelers era.

    He played in Pittsburgh from 1963-1976.

    Russell was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a first team All-Pro in 1975.

    He recorded 18 interceptions in his career.

16. Dermontti Dawson, Center

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    Dermontti Dawson and the Pittsburgh Steelers were a match made in heaven. After replacing Steelers all-time great Mike Webster in 1988, Dawson went on to have a career that lasted until the turn of the century.

    That meant that Pittsburgh had two centers in 26 years. Talk about stability.

    Dawson starter in 181 games in 184 games played. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler as well as a six-time Associated Press first-team All-Pro.

    He was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.

15. L.C. Greenwood, Defensive End

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    L.C. Greenwood played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969-1981.

    He recorded 73.5 sacks in his career.

    Greenwood is a six-time Pro Bowler, four-time Super Bowl champion and two-time All-Pro.

    He was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.

    Playing on one of the most fierce defenses in NFL history, Greenwood did his job which was sacking the quarterback. 

14. Lynn Swann, Wide Receiver

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    Lynn Swann was not a better wide receiver than John Stallworth, but this Pittsburgh Steelers great shined in the brightest of stages.

    Swann played from 1974-1982 with Pittsburgh.

    He made 336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns in his career.

    Swann won four NFL Super Bowls, made it to three Pro Bowls and was the Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl X.

13. Jerome Bettis, Running Back

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    Jerome Bettis, aka "The Bus," didn't just change the way the Pittsburgh Steelers played, he changed the image of the team.

    Bettis played from 1996-2005 with Pittsburgh.

    He was the guy who meshed perfectly with the city of Pittsburgh with his tough-minded, hard-nosed bruising type of football. He was the reason why they would tire teams out in the fourth quarter.

    Bettis made it to six NFL Pro Bowls, 1993 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award winner and Super Bowl champion.

    He is the fifth all-time leading rusher in NFL history with 13,662 yards.

12. John Stallworth, Wide Receiver

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    John Stallworth isn't flashy like Lynn Swann, but he is a more complete receiver.

    Stallworth played from 1974-1987 with Pittsburgh.

    He made 537 receptions for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns.

    Stallworth won four Super Bowls, made it to four Pro Bowls and was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award winner in 1984.

    His longevity, style of play and statistical numbers are the reasons why I have him ahead of Swann.

    Nevertheless, take your pick. I would love to have either man on my squad. It just so happens that the Steelers had both.

11. Ernie Stautner, Defensive Lineman

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    Ernie Stautner was not only a great player, but also a quality coach. He won his two Super Bowls rings as a coach.

    As a player, Stautner starred with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1950-1963.

    Stautner was a nine-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-Pro and a Pro Bowl MVP in 1957.

    He was named to the NFL's All-Decade team in 1950.

10. Troy Polamalu, Safety

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    Troy Polamalu is one of the top 25 players in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Saying that about a common-day defensive player for the Steelers, says something about his ability to play the safety position.

    He is one of the most dynamic players in all of football, and the Steelers are not even recognizable when he isn't on the field.

    Ever since Polamalu was drafted in 2003, he has made his mark as a free-flying safety who can be great in run defense or against the pass.

    Top that with his ability to make special plays at special moments in the game and you have yourself an all-time great.

    He is a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion.

    Polamalu was the defensive player of the year in 2010. He was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

9. Hines Ward, Wide Receiver

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    Hines Ward resembles the city of Pittsburgh in so many ways—as do a lot of the guys on this list—with his grit and determination.

    He has been in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform since 1998, recording 954 receptions, 11,702 yards and 83 touchdowns.

    Ward has won two Super Bowls, been to four Pro Bowls and was the Super Bowl XL MVP.

    With this last Super Bowl victory, I have moved Ward to the No. 1 spot in terms of wide receivers.

8. Mike Webster, Center

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    Mike Webster played from 1974-1988 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Webster was a nine-time Pro Bowler, nine-time All-Pro selection and a four-time Super Bowl champion. He also was a part of the 1970s and 1980s All-Decade Team.

    Talk about a Hall of Fame career.

    He was not only the greatest center in Pittsburgh Steelers history, but arguably the greatest center to ever play the game of football.

7. Rod Woodson, Defensive Back

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    Rod Woodson was a dynamic football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    He played with the Steelers from 1987-1996.

    Woodson was a great safety/cornerback, but was also a dynamic special teams returner.

    He is an 11-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. Also, he won the Super Bowl with rival Baltimore Ravens.

    Woodson collected 1,163 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 71 interceptions in his career.

6. Jack Ham, Linebacker

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    Jack Ham was one of many cornerstone players on a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

    He played for the Steelers from 1971-1982.

    Ham was an eight-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl champion. He was a part of the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.

    Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Ham got to play for the hometown team.

5. Terry Bradshaw, Quarterback

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    Terry Bradshaw led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowls in the 1970s. A quarterback gets the most blame and credit for a victory, and that is why he is No. 5 on my list.

    Bradshaw played with Pittsburgh from 1970-1983.

    He has made it to three Pro Bowls, been a two-time Super Bowl MVP and was a league MVP in 1978.

    Bradshaw is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, certainly in the top 15.

    He threw for 27,989 yards and 212 touchdowns in his career.

4. Franco Harris, Fullback/Running Back

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    Franco Harris is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Ever since his rookie season, Harris was performing at an extremely high level. He was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1972.

    Harris played with Pittsburgh from 1972-1983.

    He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, seven-time NFL All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl Champion.

    No. 32 was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.

3. Mel Blount, Cornerback

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    Mel Blount may have been one of the most physical cornerbacks to ever play the game of football. He was that ferocious.

    Whether being physical at the line of scrimmage or after a receiver caught the ball, Blount would tear your head off. He wouldn't be allowed to play in today's NFL.

    Blount played with the Steelers from 1970-1983.

    He was a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl champion.

    Blount was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1975.

    He was named to not only the 1980s All-Decade Team, but to the NFL All-Time Team.

2. Jack Lambert, Linebacker

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    Jack Lambert was Pittsburgh Steelers football. Look at his picture: who would want to mess with a guy who looks as tough as he does?

    He, as well as many Steelers, set the tone with their tough, physical play.

    Lambert played for the Steelers from 1974-1984.

    He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl Champion. Lambert was also named to the NFL 1970s and 1980s All-Decade Team.

    Lambert was the Rookie of the Year in 1974.

    Recording 1,479 tackles, 23 sacks and 28 interceptions, Lambert was one of the best linebackers in NFL history.

1. Joe Greene, Defensive Lineman

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    When asked about which player people will always remember about the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, most would probably go with "Mean" Joe Greene.

    Do you blame them?

    A staple to the defensive line through four Super Bowls, he required constant double teams freeing up guys like Jack Lambert and Jack Ham.

    He is a player who defied what the Pittsburgh Steelers were all about. He, along with his teammates, created that tough-nosed style of football that is still alive today.

    Greene played for the Steelers from 1969-1981.

    He was a 10-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro, 11-time All-AFC and four-time Super Bowl champion.