It will be easy for the casual fan to forget you, especially on a day when one of the most beloved Steelers of all time is released. But today, two giants of the most recent era of Steeler football have been sent packing. You never received the accolades that Hines, The Bus, Farrior or Troy received, but I assure you that you were just as valuable. Casey Hampton is often referred to by the casual fan as the reason for the consistent success of our linebackers, but few stop to think about the role you played in Coach Dad's defense. You were a nose-tackle playing defensive end, an offensive tackle taking on blockers, a rush defensive end, and one of the best defensive ends in the game, but mostly, you were an under-appreciated player who just may be the best 3-4 defensive end to ever play football.
When people talk about the Hall of Fame, they say that you have to be the best at what you did, and you have to dominate for a substantial length of time. You meet these qualifications, but on a day when Hines Ward's Steeler career ends, no one will discuss the chances of you making the HOF. You are the Ray Guy of 3-4 defensive ends. All those who come after you will wait for their chance in the Hall, and at the end of every great 3-4 DE's career, people will briefly weigh the merits of electing this player to the Hall. This talk will quickly be shrugged off with the comment, "The Hall won't recognize Player X until Aaron Smith gets recognized, and that isn't happening." Aaron, this will be your legacy to future generations of fans. To fans of other teams, or casual Steeler fans, you will just be another veteran leaving us as we move ever-younger on defense for the next run at number 7; but, to fans like me who grew up on the Steelers, and love the old-school style of football the Steelers have played for the last 40 years, Aaron Smith will always be an all-time great Steeler, and deserving of a place in Canton.