List of Steelers players on all three Super Bowl teams shrinking

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The legacy of the 16 players associated with the Steelers on all three of their recent Super Bowl teams will eventually outweigh all of their on-field production. But no other team has had as much success in multiple eras as the Steelers have. Here's to finding the next group.

The Steelers kept two of remaining five players who were a part of the team in all three of their recent Super Bowl years, 2005, 2008 and 2010 when they signed Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu to extensions Wednesday.

They lost one of them when they released linebacker Larry Foote and could lose another, depending on negotiations with cornerback Ike Taylor. A fifth member, defensive end Brett Keisel, is a pending free agent, and isn't assured of a contract with the Steelers in 2014.

There are 16 players in total who were on the roster in some manner when the Steelers played in their last three Super Bowls (some were inactive, some were on injured reserve).

The other 11 players are Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Chris Kemoeatu, Max Starks, Trai Essex, Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Bryant McFadden and Greg Warren.

Those players represent an outstanding run of Steelers football that saw two Super Bowl championships, three AFC championships, three AFC North championships and a regular season record of 62-34 (from 2005-10).

A large chunk of the players no longer with the Steelers were let go between 2011-12, including the franchise's leading receiver, Ward, and the only player in NFL history to start at left and right tackle on two Super Bowl champions, Starks.

These statistics and factoids won't mean much outside Pittsburgh, but within SteelerNation, it shows the results of not just a highly talented core group of players, but a front office that managed its salary cap to a high degree of excellence and a scouting department that hit on several players who had careers that spanned the better part of a decade.

The Steelers model became a paradigm of consistency and dominance during a time in which no team repeated as Super Bowl champions.

What's most intriguing about this group is the broad section of personnel moves made by the team to bring them all in. Nearly each round of the NFL Draft is represented: First round picks Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Miller and Hampton, second round pick McFadden, third round picks Ward, Starks and Essex, fourth round picks Smith, Taylor and Foote, sixth round pick Kemoeatu and seventh round pick Keisel. They acquired Farrior via free agency after he was a first round pick of the New York Jets, and Harrison, Hoke and Warren were undrafted free agents.

While not all of these players participated fully in each of these years, they were a part of the culture of the team, and in later years, the stewards of that culture.

It's a different era now, one in which the post-Super Bowl XLV Steelers have one winning season and no playoff wins. Call it age, call it struggles with moving into the current era of the NFL. Call it whatever.

It just seems more like everything clicked in the franchise's vision of drafting, finding, signing and retaining quality to outstanding players for a long period of time. It's a lot to ask any scouting department to find James Harrison, remain patient with him through his development and see his long-term value despite not seeing it on the field.

But if any franchise has shown it in multiple eras, it's the Steelers.

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