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 various 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 21st. Enjoy.
21) No. 53
Most Notable: Clark Haggans 2000-2007 (pictured below), Brian Hinkle 1982-1993, Dennis “Dirt” Winston 1977-1981, Henry Davis 1970-1973, John Campbell 1965-1969
Current Wearer: Maurkice Pouncey 2010-Present
A trio of players who donned the five and the three lead the way among the top standouts here. Maurkice Pouncey carried on a long line of excellence at the center position when he was drafted 18th overall at the 2010 selection meeting. The eight-time Pro Bowler and 5-time All-Pro was the winner of the Joe Greene Award in 2010 and his worth was realized right away when his injury in the 2010 AFC Championship made his absence loom large in the Super Bowl XLV loss. Pouncey is considered so valuable to Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback reportedly voted for him as team MVP in 2017. “Pounce”, a current key leader in the locker room, is entering his eleventh season in Pittsburgh.
Clark Haggans is most certainly an underrated player in Steelers history. But a team can’t win without pieces of the puzzle and the all-time sack leader in Colorado State history was a major one in the 2000s. After drafting Joey Porter in the third round of the 1999 draft, the Steelers went back to the Ram well in the fifth round of the 2000 draft and selected his college teammate. Porter helped acclimate Haggans to life in Pittsburgh and welcomed him to a tight-knit linebacking corps. Ultimately spending 13 years in the professional ranks, Clark had his most success in his eight Steelers seasons ranking 12th on the all-time team list with 32.5 sacks. An unrestricted free agent after 2007, Haggans joined the Arizona Cardinals, but he went on IR in December and was not on the field for the Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh. However, he was on the field three years earlier and earned a ring in the Super Bowl XL win over Seattle.
The 80s were a down decade in the eyes of many, but the Steelers still won a couple of division titles and made an AFC Championship. On these teams, Brian Hinkle was a consistent presence on defense for most of the decade and into the 90s. Ranked 22nd all time on the team with 22.5 sacks, 23rd with 15 interceptions and 15th with 11 fumble recoveries, Hinkle was a defensive mainstay. A sixth rounder out of Oregon in 1981, Hinkle joined a linebacking unit that included Hall of Famers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert. The pair of Jacks welcomed Hinkle in and introduced him to the “Steeler Way” immediately. Hinkle was never an All Pro or elected to a Pro Bowl. but he was a leader on a defense in the mold of his mentors.
Check back soon for the 20th 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.