The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich history and a strong and steely presence in Canton, Ohio. With Bill Cowher, Donnie Shell and Troy Polamalu joining the 25 other Hall of Famers to represent the “Black-and-Gold” as enshrinees in August, there are still more legendary Steelers deserving of the honor. BTSC ranks the eligible men (that excludes Antonio Brown and James Harrison) who they consider deserving of having their images bronzed for eternity.
1. L.C. Greenwood
The man with the golden shoes wore them to prevent mistaken identity. PA announcers would credit Joe Greene for some of Greenwood’s tackles, so to correct that, he would lift his legs in the air every time he made a play in order to get his proper due. The man known as “Hollywood Bags” is not in the Hall of Fame, but truly deserves to be. In 13 seasons with the Steelers, the 6’6” Greenwood was a dominant member of the Steel Curtain. He was named to six Pro Bowls and was honored twice as an All-Pro. His 73.5 (unofficial) sacks has him second on the Steeler career list, 4.5 of them came in one 1979 game against the Browns and another four came in Super Bowl X. L.C. is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team and the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team. He passed away at age 67. He wasn’t among the finalists for the recent centennial class, but could still get in on a veteran vote posthumously down the road.
2. Alan Faneca
Faneca is one of the best offensive lineman in team history. In 10 seasons with the Steelers, Faneca was a seven-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro. Alan also was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s and the Steelers 75th Aniversary team. One of the defining plays of Faneca’s career was the pulling-block to spring Willie Parker on his 75-yard touchdown ramble in the 21-10 victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL. Down by more than 100 pounds since his playing days, Faneca looks far from the player who wore No. 65 and 66 in Pittsburgh. Al is on the verge of Canton and could earn HOF recognition in the very near future when there aren’t three others and Steve Hutchinson getting in.
3. Bill Nunn
Nunn, a sports editor at the Pittsburgh Courier, voiced his frustration to Dan Rooney regarding players from historical black colleges being overlooked by the NFL. Rooney agreed and hired Nunn as a part-time talent evaluator for the team in 1967, where he hooked-on full time in 1969 and remained for 46 seasons. Nunn is more responsible than most for the success of one of the NFL’s greatest franchises. Players he scouted include Hall of Famers John Stallworth from Alabama A&M, Donnie Shell from South Carolina State and Southern’s Mel Blount. Others include L.C. Greenwood from Arkansas AM&N, Grambling Tiger Frank Lewis, Dwight While from Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas Southern’s Ernie Holmes and Joe Gilliam from Tennessee State.
4. Hines Ward
With 1,000 career receptions, Ward is tops all-time when listing the best Steeler receivers and 14th all-time in league lore. His 12,083 receiving yards ranks him 23rd in NFL history. One of the most popular players to wear the black-and-gold, Hines was a devastating blocker when he didn’t have the ball. The 14-year veteran was a four-time Pro Bowler, a three-time All-Pro, a two-time Super Bowl champ and the Super Bowl XL MVP. A member of the Steelers All-Time Team, the Dancing With The Stars-Mirror Bowl winner also wore #86 and scored a touchdown for the Gotham Rogues in The Dark Knight Rises. Hines may get in down the road, but like Lynn Swann and John Stallworth...will probably be forced to wait a long while.
5. Rocky Bleier
The four-time Super Bowl champion is also a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. After his rookie season, Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam where a grenade blew off part of his foot. While recovering, Bleier received a note of encouragement from the Chief, Art Rooney Sr. A year later, the Rock returned and became an important cog in the Steelers’ offensive machine. Bleier retired after the 1980 season with 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions for 1,294 yards and 25 touchdowns. In my mind, this guy is Hall of Fame...but the lack of numbers will unfortunately keep him far away.
6. Heath Miller
Miller defined the tight end position in Pittsburgh. The first rounder in 2005 served as Ben Roethlisberger’s safety valve in the passing game. Twice a Pro-Bowler, his 592 career receptions rank him first in franchise history at the position and eighth all-time among NFL Tight Ends. Heath, who retired prior to the 2016 season, sits at third in team history in receptions and fourth with 6,569 receiving yards.
7. Greg Lloyd
The man who once wore a t-shirt that read “I wasn’t hired for my disposition” was a difference-maker on defense. The dominance of Greg Lloyd was first apparent when he three-counted out Pat Ryan, a Jets quarterback, in 1989. Lloyd, the leader of the famed “Blitzburgh” defense of the 1990s, ranks eighth among all-time team leaders with 53.5 sacks and second with 15 fumble recoveries. The five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and two-time Steelers MVP is a member of Pittsburgh’s All-Time Team. His partner in crime in the mid-90s, Kevin Greene, is enshrined in Csnton...but Lloyd is probably unlikely to make it.
8. Gary Anderson
Landslide team leader in career scoring and field goals made. The quintessential Steelers kicker should be enshrined in Canton, but a presumed kicker-bias and the miss in the 1998 NFC Championship for the Vikings may be keeping him out. But Anderson is the No. 1 player ever to wear the uno in Pittsburgh.
9. Joey Porter
Nick-named “Peasey,” the linebacker was a whirling dervish of a pass-rusher for eight years at Heinz Field. Porter was named a Pro-Bowler and All-Pro on three occasions. The 2002 Steelers Co-MVP was the first player in NFL history to record 70 sacks and 10 interceptions. A member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and the Steelers’ All-Time Team, Porter was the vocal leader of the Super Bowl XL champions. He finished his Steelers career fifth all-time with 60 sacks, 10 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries. Porter, who once was shot below the buttocks outside of a club in Denver in 2003, only missed two games due to the incident.
10. Andy Russell
Russell was a part of the greatest trio of linebackers in NFL history. Not as recognizable as Jack Ham and Jack Lambert, Russell still thrived for 12 years and won two Super Bowl titles. His 93-yard fumble return in the 1975 playoffs versus Baltimore was voted by fans as the seventh best play in Three Rivers history. Russell was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times and was a four-time All-Pro.
Honorable Mention; Tunch Ilkin, Casey Hampton, Carnell Lake, Dick Hoak, Elbie Nickel, Dwight White, Buddy Parker, Mike Wagner
Which eligible Steelers do you consider to be the most-deserving of being enshrined in Canton.
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