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The Almost All Time Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

This post pays tribute to greats who aren't, or maybe never will be, members of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich tradition and one of the longest histories of all teams in the NFL. They originally were named the Pirates.

They have been in Pittsburgh since 1933, and are the fifth-oldest franchise in the league today. They twice merged with other teams during World War II due to the inability to dress enough players to form a complete team.

They merged with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1943 season and were called the Steagles.

The 1944 season saw them merge with the Chicago Cardinals. They got dubbed the Carpets by many, or Card-Pitt.

Defense has always been king in the Steel City, and many of the best defenders in NFL history have been Steelers.

Hope you enjoy this list.

 

NOSE TACKLE : DALE DODRILL

Dale was a 6th round draft pick by the Steelers in 1951. Dale played Middle Guard his first 6 seasons in the NFL, which is like a linebacker who fluctuates between Nose Tackle and MLB. Because of all the great linebackers in Steelers history, I decided to get Dale on the team this way. Dale played just 7 games his rookie year, but would start every game for the rest of his career after that. In 1952, Dale was named to the Associated Press All NFL 2nd Team, and scored the first touchdown of his career. He was first named an All Pro in 1953, and scored the last touchdown of his career off of a fumble recovery. Dodrill would be named an All Pro until 1955. In 1956, he was named to the NY Daily News, UPI, and Newspaper Ent. Association's All NFL Second Teams. Dale was moved to Middle Linebacker in 1957, and made his final All Pro team. He played Left Linebacker the following season and was named to the Sporting News First team All NFL. Dale moved back to MLB in 1959, then retired after that season. Though tackles were not a recorded statistic then, Dale Dodrill intercepted 10 balls and recovered 11 fumbles in his nine years with Pittsburgh.

















DEFENSIVE END : DWIGHT WHITE

Dwight was a fourth round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 1971. Though Ben McGee got serious consideration, I decided to go with Dwight. Dwight earned his way into the starting lineup as a rookie. In 1972, he was named to his first All Pro team, and then made his last All Pro team the following season. He recorded his first safety, and first two inceptions of his career in 1973. In 1974, White was named the the UPI Second Team All Conference. He came down with pneumonia during the playoffs that year. He also lost 20 pounds from it. He shocked his team mates by pulling himself out of his hospital bed to play Super Bowl IX. Dwight recorded the only points of the first half, when he recorded a safety. Those were the first points in the first championship game of Pittsburgh's 41 year history. Pittsburgh repeated as Super Bowl Champions the following season, as White was named to the Pro Football Writers All NFL Second Team, and the Pro Football Weekly First Team All Conference. The Steelers would go on to win Super Bowl's XIII and XIV, as well, in White's tenure. Dwight recorded 2 safeties in the regular season, and one in the Super Bowl. He also intercepted 4 passes in his career, and recorded 55 sacks. Dwight White was not only a key member of the famous "Steel Curtain", but he is an integral part of Steelers lore.















DEFENSIVE END : BILL McPEAK

Bill was a 16th round draft pick of the Steelers in 1948. He played with the Steelers in 1949, and started two games. In 1952, he made his first All Pro team. He then was named an All Pro the following season. In 1954, he recorded the first safety of his career. In 1955, Bill also served as an assistant coach while playing. He would remain an assistant coach for the Steelers until 1958. McPeak made his final All Pro team in 1956, and recorded a safety. Bill recorded his final safety in 1957, then retired. Bill joined the Washington Redskins as an assistant in 1959. He was named Head Coach in 1961. During his tenure, the Redskins garnered the services of Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor, and Bobby Mitchell. He also drafted Chris Hanburger, Jerry Smith, and Len Hauss. Bill was fired after the 1965, then worked for Lions, Dolphins, and Patriots until his death in 1991.













LINEBACKER : JERRY SHIPKEY

Jerry was a eight round pick by Pittsburgh in the 1947 draft. He also played Fullback his first two seasons, and scored 13 touchdowns on 90 carries. Jerry mainly played Linebacker in 1950, but still ran for 3 touchdowns on 18 carries. He only carried the ball one more time in his career after that. Shipkey was named to his first All Pro team that year, and would be an All Pro the next two seasons as well. In 1951, Jerry intercepted a pass and scored the last touchdown of his career. Jerry joined the Chicago Bears in 1953 and retired after that season. Though David Little and Myron Pottios were strongly considered, but I picked Jerry Shipkey for his 13 interceptions for 238 yards in 5 seasons, as well as his 17 career touchdowns.















LINEBACKER : GREG LLOYD

Greg was drafted in the 6th round by Pittsburgh in the 1987 draft. He started 4 games in his rookie year, then would be a starter for the rest of his tenure in Pittsburgh. In Gregs first year of starting, he recorded 7 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 92 tackles. In 1991, Lloyd made his first All Pro team. He would continue to be an All Pro until 1995, which is the season the Steelers went to Super Bowl XXX. Greg had a career high 10 sacks in 1994. Greg suffered a knee injury in the first game of 1996, and would miss the rest of the year. He managed to play 12 games the following year before playing his final year in the NFL with Carolina in 1998. Greg was the epitome of a team player. He is a member of the Steelers 75th Anniversary Team. Greg Lloyd recorded 54.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, forced 34 fumbles, and recorded 659 tackles in 10 years as a Steeler.
















LINEBACKER : MIKE MERRIWEATHER

Mike was a third round draft choice by the Steelers in 1982. He got into 9 games in his rookie year, then earned the starting job in 1983. He had 3 interceptions that year, and scored the first touchdown of his career. Mike made his first All Pro team in 1984, when he recorded a career high 15 sacks. He returned to the All Pro team the following year when he recorded 4 sacks and took an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. Mike made his final All Pro team in 1986, when he had 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. Mike ended up with the Minnesota Vikings in 1989. In 1990, he recorded the only safety of his career, and scored a touchdown off of an interception. He matched his career high of 3 interceptions the following year, and took one for a career long 73 yards. He also took a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Merriweather then scored the last touchdown of his career in 1991, when he took his only interception for 22 yards. Mike played with the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers in 1993, but only appeared in one game with the Jets. He retired after that season. Great Steelers Linebackers like John Reger, Levon Kirkland, and Chad Brown deserve mention, but I chose Mike Merriweather for his 31 sacks, 11 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns in his six seasons with Pittsburgh.










LINEBACKER : JASON GILDON

Jason was a third round draft pick of the Steelers in 1994. Jason started just 1 game in his first 2 seasons, mainly playing special teams, but did contribute 5 sacks. He was a full time starter in 1996, and would remain so until 2003. Gildon was noted for his pass rush abilities. Hr recorded 11 sacks in 1998. In 2000, Jason recorded a career high 13.5 sacks and was named to the All Pro Team. Gildon had 12 sacks the next year, and recorded the first of his 2 career interceptions. He would be named an All Pro that season as well. Jason went to his last Pro Bowl team the following year when he had 9 sacks. Jason played with the Steelers one more season in 2003 and had 6 sacks. Gildon signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 7th week of the 2004 season. He retired after that season. Joey Porter and Kevin Greene deserve mention. Jason Gildon the the Pittsburgh Steelers All Time Sacks Leader with 77 in 10 seasons.














SAFETY : GLEN EDWARDS

Glen was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Steelers in 1971. He did start 6 games at Free Safety his rookie year, and picked off his first ball. He was given the punt return duties the next season, and would return them full time until 1976. Edwards also earned the starting job at FS in 1973, and intercepted 6 passes for a career best 186 yards. He also scored his first touchdown on a career long 86 yard return. Edwards was named to the UPI Second Team All Conference. He followed that up with 5 interceptions for 153 yards and a touchdown in 1974. Glen made his first All Pro team in 1975, intercepting 3 passes. He made his last All Pro team the next season, when he had 6 picks. 1977 was Glen's last year as a Steeler, and he swiped 3 balls and had 116 return yards. He joined the San Diego Chargers the next year, and would finish out his career there. In 1980, he had 5 interceptions for 122 yards, and scored the last touchdown of his career. He retired after the 1981 season. Glen Edwards was a ball hawk. He had at least one interception in every season of his 11 year career. Seven of those years were spent as a Steeler. He had 25 of his 39 career interceptions while playing for Pittsburgh, while also being a vital member of the "Steel Curtain" defense that won 2 Super Bowls during his tenure there.
















SAFETY : MIKE WAGNER

Mike was an eleventh round draft pick of the Steelers in 1971. He soon earned the starting job at Strong Safety. He had 2 interceptions for 53 yards his rookie year. Mike followed that with 6 interceptions the next year. In 1973, Wagner led the NFL in interceptions with 8. He also had a career high 134 return yards, a career high 5 fumble recoveries, and scored the only touchdown of his career. He was named to the Pro Football Weekly First Team All Conference and the UPI Second Team All Conference. Mike was selected to his first All Pro team in 1975, when he had 4 interceptions for 122 yards. He earned his last All Pro honors the next year. Wagner was injured in 1977, and was only able to play 3 games. He returned at full health the next season, and was named to the UPI Second Team All Conference. He managed to play 8 in 1979, yet still picked off 4 passes. Mike retired after 1980, a season that saw him intercept 6 passes. Mike Wagner had a great ten seasons in Pittsburgh. He intercepted 36 passes and was an integral part of 4 Super Bowl Championships.
















CORNERBACK : J.T. THOMAS

J.T. was Pittsburgh's first draft pick in 1973. He mostly played as an extra defensive back his rookie season, but did have his first interception. Thomas was named a full time starter the next year. He had a career high 5 interceptions and scored the first touchdown of his career. Thomas then scored the last touchdown of his career the following season. J.T. had his lone All Pro season in 1976, helping the Steelers win their second straight Super Bowl. Thomas ended up missing the entire 1978 season dues to illness, but returned the next year and was moved to Free Safety. 1979 would be the only season he played in which he did not record an interception. Thomas had 4 interceptions in 1981, then went to play for the Denver Broncos the following season. He retired after the 1982 season. In his eight years in Pittsburgh, J.T. Thomas helped the Steelers win 3 Super Bowls, and had 19 interceptions.













CORNERBACK : CARNELL LAKE

Carnell was a second round draft choice of the Steelers in 1989. He first played Strong Safety for Pittsburgh. He started right away, and would start every game he played for the Steelers his entire career there. Carnell made his first All Pro team as a Strong Safety in 1994. In 1995, Carnell played SS and CB. He scored the first touchdown of his career as well. Carnell went back to playing SS in 1996 and scored a touchdown off an interception and a fumble recovery. He was also chosen an All Pro that year and the next. Lake went back to playing CB and CB that next season, and scored a touchdown off of a fumble recovery. Carnell played exclusively at Cornerback in 1998 and matched his career high with 4 interceptions. He also scored the last touchdown of his career. The next season, Lake was playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars, played Free Safety, and made his last All Pro team. After sitting out the next year, Carnell joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2001. His last game in the NFL was when the Ravens lost to the Steelers in a playoff game. He then retired. Carnell Lake was versatile, and a team leader. He broke the mold. Most Cornerbacks get moved to Safety as they get older. The fact that Carnell was moved from Strong Safety to CB, and played at an All Pro level, is truly amazing. In his ten seasons with Pittsburgh, he had 16 interceptions and fumble recoveries, to go with 5 touchdowns.

















COACH : RAYMOND "BUDDY" PARKER

Buddy was a former player who was part of the Detroit Lions 1935 NFL Championship season as a rookie. He later joined the Chicago Cardinals and ended up staying on as an assistant coach. Buddy was there when the Cardinals won the franchises lone NFL Championship in 1947. He was promoted to Head Coach in 1949, then quit after that season. He rejoined the Lions as an assistant in 1950. He was promoted Head Coach in 1951. There, with Hall of Fame Quarterback Bobby Layne, he made the Two Minute Offensive Drill popular. Parker led the Lions to two NFL Championships in five seasons before quitting over a contract dispute with management. He joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957 and began making many trades. He even brought Layne to Pittsburgh. The Steelers had their best record in a decade under Parker,. In 1963, the Steelers were one game away from playing in the NFL Championship, but lost to the New York Giants in the season finale. Buddy then quit coaching in the NFL during the 1965 pre-season. Of his 104 regular season victories, 51 came in Pittsburgh. Biddy may not be on the level of Chuck Knoll or Bill Cowher in Steelers lore, but his tenure was important. After decades of mediocrity, Parker brought a winning attitude with him, and got better results from the Steelers than any coach that had preceded him in the franchises history.


Buddy and Bobby




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