Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 Infamous Uniform Numbers That Should Be Retired

Mike Batista@Steel_TweetsContributor ISeptember 28, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 Infamous Uniform Numbers That Should Be Retired

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers don't normally retire numbers. The only player to receive that honor is Ernie Stautner, who wore No. 70.

    Stautner, a Steelers defensive lineman from 1950 to 1963, was a nine-time Pro Bowler, according to Pro Football Reference. He even made the Pro Bowl one year as an offensive guard.

    Several players from the Steel Curtain Era could have had their number retired, but if they did, there might not be enough numbers available for the current Steelers, especially during the preseason.

    Even though these numbers aren't officially retired, no one wears No. 12 (Terry Bradshaw), No. 32 (Franco Harris), No. 36 (Jerome Bettis), No. 52 (Mike Webster), No. 58 (Jack Lambert), No. 63 (Dermontti Dawson) or No. 75 (Joe Greene).

    It's quite likely, too, that Ben Roethlisberger will be the last Steeler to wear No. 7; Troy Polamalu will be the last Steeler to wear No. 43 and Hines Ward will be the last Steeler to wear No. 86.

    The Steelers should retire some numbers not because of the greatness of the players who wore them, but rather the infamy, ineptitude or ill fate of those players.

    Let's take a light-hearted look at the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ring of Dishonor.

No. 2

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    This number wasn't even good enough for Dennis Dixon.

    The former Steelers backup quarterback wore No. 2 originally before switching to No. 10, a number he wasn't worthy of wearing since it was worn by Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes.

    This number also was sported by nondescript backup quarterback Brian St. Pierre.

    Former kicker Todd Peterson really is the one who brought No. 2 its infamy in Steelers history.

    The Steelers acquired Peterson before the 2002 season. Since joining the NFL in 1994, Peterson had made 79.8 percent of his field goals for three teams, according to Pro Football Reference.

    However, Peterson made just 12 of 21 field goals, 57.1 percent, in 10 games for the Steelers. He missed field-goal attempts of 40 and 48 yards, and an extra point, in a 34-34 tie against the Atlanta Falcons (he's pictured during that game).

    The following week, Peterson missed field goals of 31 and 37 yards in a 31-23 loss at Tennessee. That's when the Steelers kicked their kicker to the curb and brought in Jeff Reed.

    No. 2 was not the man for the Steelers in '02.

No. 11

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    Now that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hopefully has learned not to bring in players just to return kicks, can the Steelers banish the No. 11?

    Stefan Logan (pictured) a Steelers return specialist in 2009, failed to return any kickoffs or punts for touchdowns and averaged just 9.3 yards per punt return, according to Pro Football Reference.

    The closest Logan came to returning a kickoff for a touchdown was the opening kickoff of the Steelers' 27-24 loss to the Raiders that year. He returned the kick 83 yards but couldn't finish the job, and the Steelers settled for a field goal.

    The Steelers really could have used the seven points in that game, which was the fourth of five straight losses that sank their 2009 season.

    Before Logan, No. 11 was worn by two Quinns and a Quincy.

    Both of the Quinns were backup quarterbacks. Jeff Quinn had a cup of coffee with the Steelers in 1982 but never got into a game. Mike Quinn suited up for the Steelers in 1997.

    Wide receiver Quincy Morgan had nine receptions for the Steelers in 2005. His contribution to that championship season isn't enough to save the reputation of No. 11 in Steelers history.

    Backup quarterback Rick Strom wore it from 1989 to 1993 and Kent Graham went 2-3 as a starter for the Steelers in 2000.

    The number should be retired as a memorial to all the lame quarterbacks the Steelers put under center in the two decades between Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger. It could remind Steelers fans to appreciate having a quarterback like Roethlisberger.

    The Dark Ages for Steelers quarterbacks didn't give way to the Renaissance until Graham and his No. 11 were benched in favor of Kordell Stewart in 2000.

    Stewart led the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game in 2001. Then he was replaced by Tommy Maddox, who rescued the Steelers from an 0-2 start and led them on a magic carpet ride to the playoffs in 2002.

    Like Stewart, Maddox wasn't the answer, and his decline led to the drafting of Roethlisberger in 2004.

    Wide receiver Toney Clemons gave No. 11 a try, and look what happened to him.

    He dropped several passes during the preseason and was relegated to the practice squad. The seventh-round draft pick was among a corps of receivers so unimpressive that the Steelers decided not to make any of them their fifth receiver and keep just four on their 53-man roster this season.

No. 13

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    Yes, this is pure triskaidekaphobia.

    The Steelers should not allow anyone to wear the No. 13 because it's just bad luck.

    After quarterback Bill Mackrides wore No. 13 in 1954, no one wore it for 56 years, and the Steelers won all six of their Super Bowls during that span.

    Then, along comes punter Jeremy Kapinos in 2010.

    Kapinos himself didn't bring the Steelers any bad luck by wearing the No. 13. The Steelers picked him up in 2010 and 2011 when Daniel Sepulveda was injured during those seasons. The Steelers went to the Super Bowl with Kapinos in 2010.

    But did they win Super Bowl XLV? No, because they had an unlucky 13 on their team.

    Now, the curse of the No. 13 has fallen upon Kapinos' career. He was sidelined by a back injury in training camp, and the Steelers cut him in favor of Drew Butler, according to ESPN.com.

    With no No. 13 on the team, the coast is clear for the Steelers to start winning Super Bowls again, right?

No. 14

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    When Neil O'Donnell threw two interceptions right to Larry Brown in Super Bowl XXX, Steelers fans found out what Red Sox fans felt like when the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs and what Georgetown basketball fans felt like when Fred Brown passed the ball to James Worthy.

    The second interception was the crusher. The Steelers trailed the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 but had the ball late in the fourth quarter. Legend has it that a Steelers receiver ran the wrong route, but what has been remembered is O'Donnell throwing the ball right at Brown.

    After gift-wrapping those two interceptions, O'Donnell bolted to the Jets for a big contract after the season, ensuring there would be no warm, fuzzy memories of his days in Pittsburgh.

    Limas Sweed brought more shame to the No. 14 after the Steelers drafted him in the second round in 2008. He caught just seven passes, and two in the postseason, in two years with the Steelers.

    If you recognized Sweed in the lead photo of this article, you're good.

No. 27

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    Jonathan Dwyer needs a new uniform number to change his fortunes with the Steelers.

    Not only is Dwyer part of a Steelers running game that is off to its worst start in 62 years, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but his fumble on Sunday led to a Raiders touchdown that tied the score 14-14 late in the second quarter. The Raiders went on to upset the Steelers 34-31.

    The inability of another No. 27 to hang onto the ball factored into another stunning loss to the Raiders in 2009.

    The Steelers led 24-20 with 41 seconds left at Heinz Field when Joe Burnett got his hands on a Bruce Gradkowski pass. The rookie cornerback dropped the interception, and the Raiders went on to score the game-winnning touchdown.

    It was the fourth of five straight losses for the Steelers, who finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Deflated after that loss, the Steelers lost in Cleveland four days later.

    Had the Steelers beaten the Raiders and improved to 7-5, maybe they'd have had enough wind in their sails to win in Cleveland and head into their final three games with an 8-5 record. Instead, they were 6-7 and winning their last three games wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs.

    Hopefully Burnett didn't let the door hit him on the way out when he was cut before the 2010 season.

    Before Burnett, safety Anthony Smith wore No. 27. He made his mark as a Steeler by guaranteeing a win over the New England Patriots in 2007, the year they were perfect until the Super Bowl.

    The Patriots defeated the Steelers 34-13 at Gillette Stadium and specifically targeted Smith on several plays, as reported in the Boston Globe.

    New England, which improved to 13-0 with that win, reached the Super Bowl while the Steelers were knocked out of the playoffs in the wild-card round.

    Of all the uniform numbers we're inducting into the Steelers' Ring of Dishonor, No. 27 was the toughest call. The number does have some proud lineage.

    Defensive back Willie Williams wore that number for the Steelers from 1993 to 1996 and again in 2004 and 2005. He had seven interceptions for the Steelers' 1995 Super Bowl team and earned a Super Bowl ring in 2005.

    Safety Glen Edwards had 25 of his 39 career interceptions for the Steelers from 1971 to 1977. This No. 27 was a member of two Steelers championship teams. He returned an interception 35 yards against the Cowboys in Super Bowl X.

    The architect of those 1970s Steelers title teams also wore No. 27 when he played for the Steelers.

    Dick Haley played for the Steelers from 1961 to 1964. He went on to become the Steelers' player personnel director from 1971 to 1990 and produced the drafts that laid the foundation for the Steel Curtain Era.

    However, Haley's uniform number as a player has been dishonored by Steelers of recent vintage, including Dwyer. That's unfortunate considering Dwyer reports to Haley's son, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

    The No. 27 once had significant historical value for the Steelers, but Dwyer and Burnett literally have dropped the ball on it.

No. 61

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    From 1974 through 2006, the Steelers never had to worry about the center position.

    Even in the lean years, they had either a future Hall of Famer or a Pro Bowler snapping the ball.

    Hall of Famer Mike Webster, No. 52, was the center from 1974, the year the Steelers won their first Super Bowl, until 1988. Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson, No. 63, took over in 1989 and started every game through 1998. He was a part-time starter in 1999 and 2000 before Jeff Hartings, No. 64, arrived and manned the position through 2006. Hartings was a Pro Bowler in 2004 and 2005, when the Steelers finally won One for the Thumb.

    After Hartings retired, Sean Mahan was brought in to play center in 2007, and the position became a weakness for the Steelers for the first time in more than three decades.

    Mahan, who wore No. 61, lasted just one season in Pittsburgh. His low point came in the Steelers' heartbreaking 31-29 AFC Wild-Card playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field.

    The Steelers trailed 28-10 early in the fourth quarter, but scored two touchdowns to cut their deficit to 28-23 with more than 10 minutes left. The Steelers succeeded on a two-point conversion, which would have brought them to within a field goal, but Mahan was called for a holding penalty.

    Mike Tomlin then made a rookie mistake as a head coach and decided to still go for two despite being backed up 10 yards. The attempt failed. So the Steelers had to go for two again when they took a 29-28 lead. That also failed, and the Jaguars won on a Josh Scobee field goal with two minutes left.

    The math might have worked out better for the Steelers if only Mahan hadn't held.

    The rotten luck of No. 61 rubbed off on Steelers first-round draft pick David DeCastro this year.

    DeCastro originally was assigned No. 61, according to the Beaver County Times, but switched to Alan Faneca's old number, 66.

    Perhaps DeCastro never should have touched No. 61, because like the tiki in "The Brady Bunch" Hawaii episode, it brought misfortune and put the start of DeCastro's career on hold.

    A uniform number can't literally be blamed for DeCastro's knee injury. Nonetheless, the Steelers should bury No. 61 like the Brady boys buried that tiki.

No. 80

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    Plaxico Burress caught 261 passes for the Steelers between 2000 and 2004, but as soon as they let him walk, they won the Super Bowl.

    After Burress went to the Giants, the next Steeler to don No. 80 was Cedrick Wilson, who brought off-the-field infamy to those digits.

    The Steelers cut Wilson in March of 2008 after he was charged with hitting his girlfriend, according to ESPN.com.

    Then good ol' Limas Sweed switched from No. 14 to No. 80 in 2010, as if wearing a more traditional wide receiver number was going to make him any better.

    All of these receivers were mere lads, however, when the bitter memories of No. 80 really started.

    Any Steelers fan who remembers Mark Stock undoubtedly owns at least one Terrible Towel and has danced to the "Steelers Polka."

    Stock wore No. 80 on one of the more charming teams in Steelers history, the 1989 team that went to the playoffs despite losing its first two games by a combined score of 92-10.

    The Steelers upset the Oilers at Houston in the AFC Wild-Card Game, then gave John Elway and the Broncos all they could handle at Denver in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

    The Broncos took a 24-23 lead with just over two minutes left. The Steelers needed just a field goal to pull off the upset and go to Cleveland for the AFC Championship Game.

    However, Stock dropped a 20-yard Bubby Brister pass on first down, as SI Vault recalls, and the drive stalled from there.

    It wasn't the last time the Steelers would suffer a playoff heartbreak in Denver.