BTSC continues to rank the best numbers in team history on a standpoint of thriving over time throughout multiple players. It seems there are a few numbers which are always represented with quality play in Steelers lore. One BTSC author has wondered aloud “what is the most accomplished number in Steelers history?” Through player and jersey value rankings found in Pro Football Reference, we have ranked the most successful numbers in Steelers history worn by multiple players. You won’t see numbers like 12, 58, 75, 32, 52, 59, 36, 63 and 47 as it would be basically ranking an individual player over the other and not the cumulative effort. In today’s submission, we take a look at those ranked 18th. Enjoy.
18) No. 63
Most Notable: Dermontti Dawson 1988-2000, Pete Rostosky 1983-1986, Ernie Holmes 1972-1977, Rod Breedlove 1965-1967
Current Wearer: None
Only two players made an indelible mark on this particulay jersey number. One is a member of a legendary stable and the other is enshrined in Canton as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Dermontti Dawson may be a Hall of Fame snapper but was originally drafted as a guard out of Kentucky in the second round of the 1988 draft. Dawson was a dominating center, anchoring the line in the 90s, making seven straight Pro Bowls, being named First Team All Pro six straight times, and is a member of the 90s All-Decade team. Nicknamed “Dirt” for his propensity to grind opposing players into the ground, he also was called “Ned Flanders” by teammate for his always cheerful demeanor much like the character from “The Simpsons”. Legendary coaches Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick consider the center as one of the best all-time at his position. Dermontti was inducted as an immortal in Canton in 2012 and is a member of the Steelers All-Time Team.
Ernie Holmes had two nicknames as a member of the famed Steel Curtain from 1972-1977, “Fats” and “Arrowhead”. To call Holmes merely a character would be an understatement. On the field, he was a vibrant wrecking ball who led the Steelers in sacks unofficially with 11 in 1974 and 10.5 in 1975. His 40 unofficial sacks would rank him eleventh all time in Steelers history. The man with an arrow-shaved haircut was an intimidating force that personified the Steel Curtain mystique. Dan Rooney once explained Holmes was one of the toughest players to ever wear Steelers uniform. Holmes’ off the field antics were troubling. After an emotional breakdown while driving on the Ohio Turnpike, Ernie was arrested for firing shots and a police helicopter as it pursued him. Holmes suffered with a diagnosis of acute paranoid psychosis which would plague him. After enduring ongoing weight problems, the Steelers traded homes to the Buccaneers in 1978, but he failed to make the Tampa team coming out of preseason and was released. He ended up with the Patriots, but retired after three games. After retirement, Holmes lived on a ranch and was an ordained minister. He also appeared in Wrestlemania 2 and in an episode of The A-Team. The two-time Super Bowl Champ and one-time All-Pro passed away at the age of 59 after dying in a one-car accident 80 miles from Houston.
Pete Rostosky was an undrafted offensive tackle out of Connecticut in 1983. The Monongahela native started eight of his 35 NFL Games with the Steelers from 1983-1986.
From the University of Maryland, 1962 Pro Bowler Rod Breedlove played three of his seven NFL seasons as a linebacker for the Steelers from 1965-1967.
Check back soon for the 17th best jersey in BTSC’s countdown of the most prolific jersey number stables in Steelers history. But first, a recap of the countdown so far.