As a Steeler site, BTSC prides itself on breaking news, coverage, stats, commentary, satire, predictions and more. I try to dip my feet into all of those sections of the river. But sometimes I feel that we lose sight of the humans behind the helmets. With that in mind, I’d like to add some fun and the triumph of the human spirit to my regular duties at BTSC with Steelers Fun Facts.
Here we go. But first a warning: You will not get the next five minutes and 18 seconds of your life back, but you’re already invested...so enjoy.
Pittsburgh Linebacker Robert Spillane has Heisman Trophy and Steeler Roots
A former Western Michigan Bronco is fighting for a job at ILB for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fans may (or may not) remember Spillane intercepting Landry Jones in Week 3 of last year’s preseason. The Steelers must have thought enough of Spillane to sign him to a contract to compete for a position at inside linebacker in 2019. But a lot of folks don’t realize that the former Titan has Steeler roots outside of that pickoff of Jones.
Spillane is the grandson of Johnny Lattner, a highly decorated halfback from Notre Dame. Lattner won the 1953 Heisman Trophy, the 1952 and 1953 Maxwell Award, was twice-named a consensus All-American in those same years, is a College Football Hall of Famer and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1953. Lattner was drafted by the Steelers in 1954 in the first round, but only played that one year before joining the United States Air Force. Playing football in the Air Force, he suffered a severe knee injury that ended his professional career. In 1954, Lattner gained over 1,000 all-purpose yards and was named to the NFL Pro Bowl as a return man. Johnny Lattner passed away in 2016.
Despite playing for just one year in Pittsburgh, Lattner will always be a Steeler. Lets hope his grandson realizes a longer career in the Steel City.
Four Other Steelers are Descendants of No. 1 Selections in Professional Sports
Spillane is the only descendant of a Steeler first rounder, but Pittsburgh currently boasts four other players who came from first round picks. Two current Steelers and first rounders came from top choices, Devin Bush and Cameron Heyward. Bush’s dad, Devin Bush Sr., went 26th overall (two picks ahead of Bush Jr’s Godfather, Derrick Brooks) for Atlanta in 1995, while Craig “Ironhead” Heyward was a first round pick of New Orleans in 1988. OT Zach Banner is the son of the ninth overall pick in the 1993 draft for Atlanta, Lincoln Kennedy and Trey Griffey’s father was drafted first overall for the Seattle Mariners baseball club in 19887.
Mason Rudolph’s childhood dream was playing for the Redskins
The Rudolph Family lived in Virginia at one time and is close friends with J.D. Gibbs’ (the son of legendary Washington HC Joe Gibbs) family, so they were exposed to the Redskins. According to pre-draft interviews, it was a childhood dream of Mason to play for the Skins. Some dreams are better off not fulfilled, as the Steelers traded up in the third round to select Rudolph in 2018.