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Who were the most notable Steelers to wear number 55?

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In a countdown of the most prolific Steelers jerseys of all time, No. 55 comes in 7th place.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Oakland Raiders - October 29, 2006 Photo by Kirby Lee/NFLPhotoLibrary

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, 31, 32, 52, 59, 36 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 7th. Enjoy.


Current Wearer: Devin Bush Jr.

Most Notable: Arthur Moats 2014-2017, Joey Porter 1999-2006, LB Jerry Olsavsky 1989-1997, Dennis “Dirt” Winston 1985-1986, Jon Kolb 1969-1981 (pictured below)

Steelers Jon Kolb Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

For most players, insulting the owner of the NFL team that just drafted you guarantees a short stay in that particular locale. But for a certain third-round pick in the 1969 draft, said player was luckily dealing with the amiable Art Rooney Sr and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jon Kolb was contacted by every NFL team but the venerable Rooney’s franchise prior to the selection meeting and the All-American offensive lineman would joke he was going anywhere but Pittsburgh. When the Chief called personally to notify the Oklahoma State Cowboy of his selection, Kolb recalled being rude to Rooney in a conversation with Steelers.com. “He told me they were excited to have me come to Pittsburgh and he asked if I was excited and I said no. He said, well were still excited, we’re looking forward to seeing you. He hung up and I thought that is a terrible trick. That night I thought I have some friends, my roommate and some friends who might be drafted, I watched the news to see where my friends are going. I will never forget the news came on and they said Jon Kolb is going to Pittsburgh. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. That was for real.’ Kolb called the next day to the Steelers offices to apologize and there were absolutely no hard feelings. On the field for the Steelers, Kolb didn’t need any apologies for his play. Number 55 was one of the strongest men in the entire league, placing high in Strong Man competitions. But his real strength was protecting the quarterback from the left tackle position as a full-time starter for nine of his thirteen seasons from 1969 to 1981. Kolb started on all four Super Bowl teams that decade and was immortalized by a fan group called “Kolb’s Kowboys”. After retiring in 1981, Kolb spent time as the strength and conditioning coach in Pittsburgh. With all of the Hall of Famers that roamed Three Rivers Stadium during those days, the blindside bodyguard named Jon Kolb remains one of the most crucial from that dynasty.

They started calling him “Dirt” at the University of Arkansas for putting opposing players in the ground, but Dennis Winston was more than the name for the Steelers. With Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Robin Cole entrenched in the lineup, Winston was shocked to be selected in the fifth round of the 1977 draft by Chuck Noll’s Steelers. Motivated by the need to send money home to support his dying father, Dennis scratched and clawed to make the team and succeeded. With Jack Ham injured and out, Dirt was instrumental as a starting outside linebacker in nine games during the 1979 season and the Super Bowl XIV win over the Los Angeles Rams. In his initial stint with the Steelers, Winston started 21 games from 1977-1981. Back ailments hampered the linebacker and he was traded on the day of the 1982 draft for a sixth round pick to the Saints. In that team’s first ever home Monday Night Football game, New Orleans hosted the Steelers and Winston intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown, which won the game against his former team. Broiled in a contract dispute with team management early in 1985, Winston was traded back to the Steelers just 3 games into the season where he would play the final two years of his career. The tough and aggressive linebacker spent some time coaching in the CFL and NCAA and was the interim Head Coach at Grambling State in 2013. Winston wore No. 53 in his first go-around for the Steelers, but donned No. 55 for his final two seasons.

A team captain for the James Madison Colonials, Arthur Moats was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in Round 6 of the 2010 NFL Draft. After four seasons and five sacks as a Bill, Moats signed a free agent deal with the Steelers in 2014. For four seasons, “the Body” was a versatile linebacker playing both inside and on the edge. Moats accumulated 11.5 sacks and started 25 of 59 games for the franchise. Moats was also a fan and locker room favorite in Steeltown. After his contract expired, Moats did what many Steelers do and looked to extend his career with the Arizona Cardinals. But injuries led him to never suit up and Arthur retired in 2019. Moats now does Steelers broadcating for The Fan, 93.7 in Pittsburgh and has a podcast series as well. Arthur Moats was indeed a valuable piece of the puzzle in his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hailing from Youngstown Ohio, Jerry Olsavsky spent his career playing for three-quarters of the AFC North (excluding Cleveland), but he is known most for being a Pittsburgh Steeler. Drafted in the tenth round out of Pitt, the All American Panthers linebacker started half of the Steelers games as a rookie in the Cinderella season of 1989 and wore the No. 92. Transitioning to the double-fives in 1990, the undersized tackling machine seemed to shine in the postseason with a key blocked punt in the Wild Card win over Houston and six tackles against the Colts in the 1995 AFC Championship Game. He also played for more than half of the defensive snaps in the Super Bowl XXX loss to the Dallas Cowboys. In 1997, Olsavsky left for Cincinnati, but didn’t see action for the Bengals. He ended up with the Ravens and started nine games that season before retiring. Jerry O was a valuable presence at the inside linebacker position for nine seasons under Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. Currently, Olsavsky is heading into his sixth season as the inside linebackers coach under Mike Tomlin where he has overseen a strengthening of that particular unit. After all of this time, Jerry O is a Pittsburgh mainstay through and through.

Nick-named “Peasey”, a certain outside linebacker was a whirling dervish of a pass-rusher for eight years at Heinz Field. Drafted in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Joey Porter was perhaps one of the most charismatic Steeler in team history. Porter was named a Pro Bowler and All-Pro on three occasions and 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 was shot below the buttocks outside of a club in Denver in 2003, only missed two games due to the incident and later used “they shot me in Denver!” as a motivating cry before the 2005 AFC Championship. With the emergence of James Harrison and a $1 million roster bonus approaching, the team released Peasey before the beginning of the Mike Tomlin era. However, Porter would sign a huge deal with the Miami Dolphins and rack up 32 sacks in Miami including 17.5 in 2008. Released in 2010, Joey signed another nice deal in Arizona where he played parts of two seasons before retiring. Porter returned to the Steelers as a defensive assistant coach in 2014 and played a prominent role in the infamous 2016 Wild Card Game, inciting the Pac Man Jones penalty which resulted in the improbable game-winning field goal. Relieved of his duties in 2019 as outside linebackers coach for the Steelers, Joey Porter will always remembered as a team leader of a dominant defense that helped end a championship drought in the Steel City.

Check back soon for the 6th 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.

Honorable Mention: No. 51, No. 93, No. 27 and No. 33
25) No. 24
24) No. 43
23) No. 83
22) No. 67
21) No. 53
20) No. 10
19) No. 20
18) No. 63
17) No. 50
16) No. 34
15) No. 78
14) No. 98
13) No. 68
12) No. 77
11) No. 56
10) No. 86
9) No. 73
8) No. 99