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Casey Hampton (left), Ben Roethlisberger (center) and Antonio Brown (Getty).

NFL

The Steel Curtain: The top 25 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers in history

The Pittsburgh Steelers are as dominant as they come in the NFL. Having six Super Bowls under their belts, the Steelers have had some great players in their history! We are counting down the 25 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all-time!

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Casey Hampton (left), Ben Roethlisberger (center) and Antonio Brown (Getty).

Casey Hampton (left), Ben Roethlisberger (center) and Antonio Brown (Getty).

The Pittsburgh Steelers were founded in 1933 and they are the seventh-oldest franchise in the NFL. They are right up there with the New England Patriots as they have won six Super Bowls, the last one coming in 2008. They have been to the playoffs a total of 31 times and have won 23 division titles. The Steelers are the definition of excellence.

Coming up with 25 all-time greats was not easy, but we feel we created a worthy list of great players and characters who have helped the Steelers in their long history! Here are the 25 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers in history!

Honorable Mentions: Jason Gildon, Dermontti Dawson

25. Lynn Swann - WR

Lynn Swann
Lynn Swann (Getty)

Stats: 336 Receptions, 5,462 Receiving Yards, 51 Touchdowns
Accolades: Super Bowl MVP, 3-time Pro-Bowl, 1981 NFL Man of the Year, 1970s All-Decade team.
Championships: 4

Lynn Swann played his whole career with the Steelers and was an amazing catcher. He was a part of four Steeler Super Bowl titles and while he never had what one could call a breakout season he was a true team player.

24. Joey Porter - LB

Joey Porter
Joey Porter (Getty)

Stats: 667 Total Tackles, 98 Sacks, 9 Fumble Recoveries
Accolades: 4- Time Pro-Bowl, Steelers All-Time Team, NFL 2000s All-Decade team
Championships: 1

Joey Porter was a leader for the Steelers in his eight seasons with the team. Known for his fearlessness and intimidation on opposing teams he was a tough linebacker. His leadership and command of the defense were able to help win the Steelers 1 Super Bowl title.

23. Mike Webster - S

Mike Webster
Mike Webster (Getty)

Stats: 245 Games Played, 6 Fumble Recoveries
Accolades: 9-Time Pro-Bowl, 1970 and 1980’s All-Decade teams, Steelers All-Time Team, NFL 75th, and 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
Championship:

Mike Webster was as tough as they came in the safety position. He made the NFL’s All-Decade team twice in the 1970s and 1980s. He put his body before anything and that helped the Steelers win 4 Super Bowls. Unfortunately for Webster, he took a lot of tolls as he had amnesia, dementia, depression, and acute bone and muscular pain.

22. Joel Steed - NT

Joel Steed
Joel Steed (Getty)

Stats: 224 Tackles, 9.5 Sacks
Accolades: 1997 Pro-Bowl

He may not have all the accolades but he certainly was a team player. Joel Steed was just that, he put the team above anything else and took over the Nose Tackle position. Steed was very dominating and would completely washout blockers.

21. John Stallworth - WR

John Stallworth
John Stallworth (Getty)

Stats: 537 Receptions, 8,723 Receiving Yards, 63 Touchdowns
Accolades: 3- Time Pro-Bowl, 1984 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 4

John Stallworth ran for over 1,000 yards three seasons straight and scored 63 touchdowns for the Steelers. He was a part of 4 Super Bowl-winning teams. He would be higher on the list had he not been plagued with injuries throughout his career.

20. Greg Lloyd - LB

Greg Lloyd,
Greg Lloyd (Getty)

Stats: 397 Total Tackles, 55 Sacks, 24 Forced Fumbles, 11 Interceptions
Accolades: 5- Time Pro-Bowl, 2-Time Steelers MVP, Steelers All-Time Team.

There are beasts and then there is Greg Lloyd, who played 11 years with the Steelers. From 1991 to 1995 he had at least five forced fumbles and was as tough as they came in the defensive line. He was a solid voice on the field and was selected to five Pro- Bowl teams.

19. Ernie Stautner - DT

Ernie Stautner
Ernie Stautner (Getty)

Stats: 173 Games Played, 23 Fumble Recoveries, 2 Interceptions
Accolades: Steelers 70 jersey retired, 1950s All-Decade Team, 9- Time Pro-Bowl, 4- Time All-Pro

During the Steelers’ early days, Ernie Stautner was one of the best defensive tackles in team history. When he retired he was the career leader in safeties and third in fumble recoveries with 23. He was considered a tough man back in his day as he played with many fractured bones.

18. James Harrison - LB

James Harrison
James Harrison (Getty)

Stats: 793 Total Tackles, 84.5 Sacks, 9 Fumble Recoveries, 34 Forced Fumbles
Accolades: 5- Time Pro-Bowl, 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Championships: 2

James Harrison was a monster in 2008 and helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls in his stint with the team. An athletic beast, he was a tough defender with a never-say-die personality. It was rumored that he worked out a lot in order to keep his body in shape for his tough defensive duties.

17. L.C. Greenwood - DE

L.C. Greenwood
L.C. Greenwood (Getty)

Stats: 170 Games, 14 Fumble Recoveries
Accolades: 6- Pro- Bowls, 1970s NFL All-Decade Team, Steelers All-Time team
Championships: 4

L.C. Greenwood was one of the main pieces of the Steelers Steel Curtain, he was a sack master but also a speedy defender. He was considered one of the best pass rushers of the defensive line and was on four Super Bowl teams.

16. Rod Woodson - CB

Rod Woodson
Rod Woodson (Getty)

Stats: 1,049 Tackles, 71 Interceptions, 17 Touchdowns
Accolades: 11-Time Pro Bowl, 1993 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 2- Time NFL Interception Leader 1999 and 2002, 100th Anniversary NFL All-Time Team, 1990s NFL All-Decade Team, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 1

Rod Woodson was a beast in defense, with over 1,000 tackles, Woodson had a hall of fame career. He won most of his awards playing with the Steelers, while he was not able to win a Super Bowl, Woodson was still one of the team’s all-time best cornerbacks.

15. Donnie Shell - S

Donnie Shell
Donnie Shell (Getty) 

Stats: 51 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns
Accolades: 5-time Pro-Bowl, Steelers All-Time team
Championships: 4

Donnie Shell was on another level at the safety position, often overlooked he was able to play his entire career for the Steelers. Shell had 51 interceptions and helped the team win 4 Super Bowls.

14. Mel Blount - CB

Mel Blount
Mel Blount (Getty)

Stats: 57 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns, 736 Interception Yards
Accolades: 5-Time Pro-Bowl, 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1975 Interception Leader, NFL 75th and 100th Anniversary Team, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
Championships: 4

One of the best defensive players in the history of the NFL, Mel Blount had a 1975 season to remember. Blount was known for his tough style of play, he was a master of the "bump-and-run" and knew how to get in the way of passes. He was on four championship teams.

13. Jack Ham - LB

Jack Ham
Jack Ham (Getty)

Stats: 32 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns
Accolades: 8-Time Pro-Bowl, 1975 Defensive Player of the Year, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, NFL 75th, and 100th Anniversary Teams. 
Championships: 4

“The fastest Steeler for the first 10 yards” is what Jack Ham was known for. Ham was a tough OLB in the 4-3 defense, with a strong ability to contain outside runs and passes. While his stats might seem small he did the little things to help the Steelers win four titles.

12. Hines Ward - WR 

Hines Ward
Hines Ward (Getty)

Stats: 1,000 Receptions, 12,083 Receiving Yards, 85 Receiving Touchdowns
Accolades: Super Bowl MVP, 4-Time Pro-Bowl, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 2

Hines Ward is regarded as one of the best receivers in Steeler history. He ranks 14th in all-time receptions and is 25th in career receiving yards. He was known for his grit and intensity.

11. Alan Faneca - G

Alan Faneca
Alan Faneca (Getty)

Stats: 206 Games Played, 11 Fumble Recovered
Accolades: 9- Time Pro-Bowl, NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 1

Alan Faneca was one of the best Guards in the NFL during the 2000s, helping the Steelers win one Super Bowl. Faneca made the key block to let Willie Parker through for his record-breaking 75-yard run in Super Bowl XL. He left the Steelers due to a contract dispute but that does not diminish his stature as one of the all-time modern-day greats.

10. Troy Polamalu - S

Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu (Getty)

Stats: 770 Tackles, 12 Sacks, 32 Interceptions, 14 Forced Fumbles
Accolades: 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 8- Time Pro- Bowl, Steelers All-Time Team, 2000s NFL Team of the Decade
Championships: 2

The wild-haired Troy Polamalu was a force in the safety position. Considered by many to be the best safety in the NFL during the 2000s, Polamalu was able to make those around him much better, he was lighting fast on the blitz and tackles and always knew how to make plays. A menace to opposing team’s offenses.

9. Jerome Bettis - RB

Jerome Bettis
Jerome Bettis (Getty)

Stats: 13,664 Rushing Yards, 91 Rushing Touchdowns, 200 Receptions
Accolades: Steelers All-Time Team, 2001 NFL Man of the Year, 6-Time Pro-Bowl
Championships: 1

The man known as “the bus” was a force to be reckoned with. Jerome Bettis played his whole career for the Steelers and used his size to his advantage, but he wasn’t just a big man he was also athletic as he ranks seventh all-time in yards and fourth all-time in rushing attempts. Bettis is one of the most popular Steelers of all-time.

8. Jack Lambert - LB

Jack Lambert
Jack Lambert (Getty)

Stats: 1,479 Tackles, 28 Interceptions, 23.5 Sacks
Accolades: 9-Time Pro-Bowl, 1976 Defensive Player of the Year 1972 and 1976, NFL 75th and 100th Anniversary Team, NFL 1970 and 1980’s All-Decade Team, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 4

One of the Steel Curtain’s main pieces, Jack Lambert was a beast in the defensive end knocking down any offensive player who came his way. He was extremely intimidating and as he accumulated defensive award after defensive award his reputation grew as well. At the end of the day he is one of the best linebackers of all-time. 

7. Franco Harris - FB

Franco Harris
Franco Harris (Getty)

Stats: 12,120 Rushing Yards, 91 Rushing Touchdowns, 307 Receptions
Accolades: 1976 Man of the Year, 9-Time Pro-Bowl, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, Steelers All-Time Team, Super Bowl MVP
Championships: 4

Franco Harris was just dominant in his era, a Super Bowl MVP, and 9- time Pro-Bowler, all he did was get yards and touchdowns. In 12 seasons with the Steelers, he was a league leader with 14 rushing touchdowns. He was also on the receiving end of the Immaculate Reception, so what else can we say, a born winner. 

6. Antonio Brown - WR

Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown (Getty)

Stats: 841 Receptions, 11,263 Receiving Yards, 124 Rushing Yards, 2,932 Return Yards, 80 Touchdowns
Accolades:  7-Time Pro-Bowl, NFL’s 2010 All-Decade Team

Antonio Brown is high up on this list due to his modern-day achievements. Quick and fast during his time with the Steelers he was considered the best wide receiver in the NFL. In 2015 he had a phenomenal season running over 1,800 yards. Fans will remember him more in time.

5. James Farrior - LB

James Farrior
James Farrior (Getty)

Stats: 1, 412 Tackles, 34 QB sacks, 11 Interceptions, 18 Forced Fumbles. 
Accolades: 2-Time Pro-Bowl, Steelers Ring of Honor
Championships: 2

Substance not flash, that was what James Farrior was to the Steelers, he was a vital part of the Steelers defenses and was able to win two Super Bowls with the team. During his era, he had 104 points in value way above anyone else who played in his position. When you look up team player and contributor Farrior’s name is on that list, you can’t win championships without the guys who put in the dirty work.

4. Casey Hampton - NT

Casey Hampton
Casey Hampton (Getty)

Stats: 374 Tackles, 9 Sacks, 2 Fumble Recoveries
Accolades: 5- Time Pro-Bowl, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 2

Casey Hampton was a big man, and he made his presence felt on the field. At over 300 pounds he was the main piece of the 3-4 defense that won two Super Bowls. Hampton is high on the list because defenses are just as important at winning games as offenses. His stats don’t show just how much of a force he truly was.

3. Terry Bradshaw - QB

Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw (Getty)

Stats: 27,989 Passing Yards, 70.9 Passing Rating, 2,257 Rushing Yards, 32 Rushing Touchdowns
Accolades: 2-Time Super Bowl MVP, 1979 NFL MVP, 1970’s NFL All-Decade team, Steelers All-Time Team
Championships: 4

What can be said about Terry Bradshaw? He was the Quarterback of four Super Bowl winning teams, he won the Super Bowl MVP Twice, and his personality was bigger than life. He is one of the best QB’s of all time. Before Tom Brady there was Terry!

2. Ben Roethlisberger - QB

Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger (Getty)

Stats: 7,564 Passing Attempts, 4,874 Passing Completions, 58,812 Passing Yards
Accolades: 6-Time Pro-Bowl, 2-Time NFL passing yards leader 2014 and 2018
Championships: 2

This might seem controversial but Ben Roethlisberger overtakes Bradshaw because of his individual stats, he led the NFL in passing yards twice in a more advanced era than Bradshaw. He was able to lead the team to two Super Bowls in the modern era and that’s nothing to shrug. In terms of efficiency we got to give it to Big Ben.

1. Joe Greene - DT

Joe Greene
Joe Greene (Getty)

Stats: 181 Games Played, 78.5 Sacks
Accolades: 10-Time Pro-Bowl, 1979 Man of the Year, 1969 Defensive Player of the Year, NFL 75th and 100th Anniversary Team, Steelers retired number 75, 1970s NFL All-Decade Team.
Championships: 4

Finally! The greatest Steeler of all-time belongs to “Mean” Joe Greene! No one captures the hard working ethic of Pittsburgh than Greene. He was the best defensive player of the Steel Curtain era. He is the player all Steelers fans look up to and judge new players by. Simply put, he is the greatest. 

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