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 14th. Enjoy.
14) No. 98
Most Notable: Casey Hampton 2001-2012, Oliver Gibson 1995-1998, Gerald Williams 1986-1994 (pictured below)
Current Wearer: Vince Williams 2013- Present
The Steelers were and still are represented well by the No. 98 by stellar defenders. Most notable would be Casey Hampton. The mammoth Hampton was the Steelers’ first-round selection in the 2001 draft out of the University of Texas. Known as “Big Snack” for always draining (Defensive Line Coach) John Mitchell’s snack basket as a rookie, Casey was a meal that offensive lines couldn’t swallow. No. 98 clogged up the middle for over a decade and dominated on the defensive line until retiring in 2012 after 12 years and two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers. Hampton came up big with a sack in Super Bowl XL and is regarded as the best nose tackle ever to squeeze into the black-and-gold jersey. Casey was selected co-team MVP with Hines Ward in 2005, went to the Pro Bowl five times and was named to the Steelers’ All-Time Team on a defensive line alongside legends Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene, Dwight White and L.C. Greenwood.
Oliver Gibson was a fifth-round pick from Notre Dame in 1995. Gibson played with the Steelers four seasons from 1995-1998 and amassed 5.5 sacks although he never started in Pittsburgh. Landing with the Bengals in 1999, Gibson started 57 of 73 contests and had 12 sacks. But he considers his time in a Pittsburgh very special. Gibson once told Steelers.com, “The way the city of Pittsburgh rallied around the team. That created a special atmosphere. You get a sack in Pittsburgh they talk about you at the Giant Eagle the next week.”
Gerald Williams was thrilled to be picked second by the Steelers in the 1986 draft out of Auburn, because he was a Steelers fan in his youth. The defensive lineman grew up idolizing Joe Greene and got to play for the Steelers legend when Mean Joe became his position coach in 1988. With the Steelers, Williams had a great joy for playing the game. He also knew how to get to the quarterback by racking up 24.5 sacks in his nine year career. After the 1994 season, Williams left Pittsburgh for the expansion Carolina Panthers. He concluded his career in 1997 with the Green Bay Packers. Because of a four-year wait for a kidney in North Carolina, Williams came back to Pittsburgh in 2017 with 9% kidney function to receive a transplant. His wife, Suzanne had surgery that day to donate hers to a young girl as well. Williams recalled his love for Pittsburgh with WTAE in an interview by saying, “When we come back, it’s like open arms and accept you like you never left,” said Williams. “It always will be family to us.”
Check back soon for the 13th 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.