Unfortunately, the NFL was still two and a half months away from the very first preseason game. While fans would love nothing more than to see our Pittsburgh Steelers on the field, we’re not going to have any weekend football for quite some time.
Rather than get depressed about having to wait for training camp in July, here are three Steelers fun facts to help get you through the downtime.
The Play That Started It All
If you call yourself a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and have never heard of the Immaculate Reception, your fan card is being instantly revoked. When Franco Harris reached down and rescued the ball from falling incomplete in the final moments of the Steelers divisional round matchup with the Oakland Raiders on December 23, 1972, he scampered for what ended up being the 60-yard game-winning touchdown.
What some younger fans fail to realize is the Steelers did not go on to win the Super Bowl this season. This was the historic 1972 season, so all the glory belongs to the Miami Dolphins as they went undefeated, partially by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Conference Championship Game, and went on to win the Super Bowl.
Even though it wasn’t part of a Super Bowl run, this play really started things off for the Pittsburgh Steelers. First, it gave them their first ever postseason victory in franchise history. Yes, from 1933 through 1971 the Pittsburgh Steelers had not won a single playoff game.
What many current fans completely fail to realize is the 60-yard completion from Bradshaw to Harris was the first postseason touchdown in Steelers history. It was only the Steelers second playoff game in the history of the franchise with the only other post season appearance being in 1947 where the Steelers lost 21-0 to the Philadelphia Eagles. With only two Roy Gerela field goals throughout the game against the Raiders, the Immaculate Reception became the first time the Pittsburgh Steelers found the endzone in the postseason.
From QB to TE
There was a lot of NFL news this week concerning the 90th player on the roster of a team who only had only one victory in 2020. But when a former first-round quarterback returns to the league after eight seasons away to transition to tight end, it was going to make some news.
Moving from quarterback to tight end is not all that common as the Steelers have one such a player who made that transition in college on their team right now in Zach Gentry. But if the Ohio State Buckeyes wouldn’t have screwed things up, the Steelers franchise leader in passing and two-time Super Bowl champion may have made that same transition way too early.
Ben Roethlisberger only played one season at quarterback in high school as the coach’s son was ahead of him on the depth chart his junior year. Instead, Roethlisberger played wide receiver as he continued to focus on his true sport of passion — basketball. With an impressive senior year at quarterback at Findlay High School, Roethlisberger began to get the attention of a number of college programs.
Supposedly, Ohio State was interested in Roethlisberger but as either a tight end or wide receiver. Ultimately Roethlisberger did not go with the Buckeyes after a chance encounter at an airport. One week after an unofficial visit to OSU where head coach John Cooper was raving over Roethlisberger, the two ran into each other at an airport one week later and Cooper had no idea who he was speaking to when Roethlisberger said hello. Because of this, Big Ben canceled his official visit to Columbus and ultimately landed at Miami of Ohio and forever shaped the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.
The Great Number 72
If Zach banner is truly tied to the number 72 he wears for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has Ken Kortas to thank for it. Kortas was the ninth overall selection of the 1964 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals but landed in Pittsburgh a season later. Playing four years for the Steelers where he started 38 of 56 games, Kortas wore the number 75 his entire time with the Steelers which lasted through the 1969 preseason. Since Kortas was already sporting the number, first-round draft pick Joe Greene was issued the number 72. But because Kortas was cut prior to the beginning of the season, Greene made the switch to 75, his number in high school and college, before the Steelers first regular season game and the rest is history.
So there are three fun facts about the Pittsburgh Steelers to help finish off your week. Whether or not you already knew these things, I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some not-so-known facts about the greatest franchise in professional sports.