The 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers were a team of legend. Brimming with Hall of Famers and some of the biggest names in football history. But only a handful of names still get tossed around now in the 2020’s.
On Offense, you always hear about Terry Bradshaw, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, and Mike Webster
And when it comes to the Steel Curtain, you’ll hear about Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, and Donnie Shell.
But there were still a ton of other, big time contributors, including some Pro-Bowlers who history just was not as kind too. Today we are going to take a dive back into history and look at some of the biggest contributors on those 70’s teams that don't quite get the same amount of love as some of their teammates.
7x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl Champion
Linebacker ‘63, 1966-1976
Since Donnie Shell finally cracked the Hall of Fame, I would say the next man up from the 70’s defense yet to be enshrined in the Hall (other than the obvious choice of L.C. Greenwood) is Andy Russell.
He was one of the most dominant linebackers of his era, and was once named team MVP. The trio of Russell, Jack Lambert, and Jack Ham may just be the greatest gatherings of linebacking talent in league history.
I mean, come on! he went to 7 Pro-Bowls and was named team MVP while playing with the Steel Curtain. #RussellForHOF2021
1x Pro Bowl, 4x Super Bowl Champion
Something which will be a bit of a theme for this list is just how many dominant defensive backs played for the 70’s Steelers who weren't named Donnie Shell or Mel Blount.
The first I'll mention is J.T. Thomas. Thomas, was Mel Blount’s running mate playing the opposite corner spot for nearly a decade.
Thomas was the Steelers first round pick in 1973, and would go on to win 4 Super Bowl’s, hauling in 20 interceptions, and played in a Pro-Bowl.
2x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro, 4x Super Bowl Champion
Our second defensive back of the list was originally drafted to be a wide receiver in 1971. Mike Wagner would quickly make the jump to patrolling the secondary and actually led the NFL in interceptions in 1973 with eight.
He would snag a total of 36 career interceptions, and scoop up another 12 fumbles, picking up all 4 Super Bowl Rings along the way.
3x Pro Bowl, 4x Super Bowl Champion
Tight-End 1971-1976 / Right Tackle 1977-1984
Larry Brown is one of the few players to swap positions mid way through his career and become more successful in his second role.
Brown won 2 Super Bowls as a Tight-End and 2 as a Right Tackle. He caught 5 touchdown passes as a TE, but land on three Pro Bowl rosters as a Tackle.
2x Super Bowl Champion
Bennie Cunningham was actually the reason why I made this list. Doing some research for another article, I was watching some of Cunningham’s tape and I couldn't help but think about the contributions he made as the the third receiving option in the latter half of the 70’s Steelers run.
He would go on to play for an entire decade winning two titles, as well as catching 20 touchdown passes in 118 games.
2x Pro Bowl, 3x Super Bowl Champion, 1x PFW Golden Toe Award
The Steelers kicker for most of the 70’s. Gerela, was a popular name back then, despite being a kicker, and would have his own fanbase known as “Gerela’s Guerrillas.”
The Canadian Righty would kick his way through 3 Super Bowl winning teams, and is still third on the Steelers all-time points list.
1x Pro Bowl, 1x Super Bowl Champion
Wide Receiver 1970-1974
Shanklin was the Steelers #1 Wide-out before Swann and Stallworth were drafted in 1974. He would be named to a Pro Bowl in 1973, Won Super Bowl IX, and was on the field during the immaculate reception.
He would finish his career with 3,079 Yards, 168 Receptions, and 24 Touchdowns.
2x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl Champion
The final member of this list is another DB Glen Edwards. Edwards was probably best remember by his play in both of his Super Bowl appearances in which Edwards made two spectacular plays. The first, in Super Bowl IX when he laid down the lumber on Vikings receiver John Gilliam, whom coughed up the football where it fell in to an awaiting Mel Blount's hands.
The other play came in Super Bowl X when Edwards picked off Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach in the end zone as time expired, Winning the game for the Steelers.
Edwards would finish his career with 39 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries, and contributed as a Punt/Kick returner.
What do you think? Could you recall all the names above? Did I forget any players who stick out in your mind? Let us know in the comments below!