Unfortunately, the NFL is still over two 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 more Steelers fun facts to help get you through the downtime this Memorial Day weekend.
The Final Option
Under current NFL rules, players are allowed to wear jersey numbers between 1 and 99. In other words, positive integers of either the single or double digit variety. Although the rules changed for the 2021 season allowing different positions to wear different numbers, the total number of options did not change.
Currently there are only two retired numbers in the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise. While there are only two that are completely off-limits, there are even more numbers that have not been put into circulation since certain Steelers greats hung up their cleats.
If a player new to the Steelers wanted a number that has never been worn before, they are simply out of luck. This has been the case ever since Week 4 of the 1987 NFL season. At that time, it was linebacker Joe Williams wore the number 97 for the first time in a regular season game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although 97 was the last hold out of all jersey numbers to appear for the Steelers, it has since been worn by Aaron Jones (1988-1992), Ray Seals (1994-1995), Rod Manuel (1997-1998), Chad Kelsay (1999), Kendrell Bell (2001-2004), Arnold Harrison (2006-2009) Jason Worilds (2010 before switching to 93) and, for the last 10 seasons, defensive captain Cameron Heyward.
The Great Recycler
If the Steelers were to hold separate reunions for players who appeared in games wearing certain jersey numbers, the most invitations to go out would be to players who once wore the number 25. Excluding the two seasons where the Steelers combined with other franchises during World War II, there have been 34 Steelers players who have appeared in a regular season game wearing the number 25 according to Pro Football Reference. The longest drought where the number 25 did not appear for the Steelers was from 1999 after the departure of Fred McAffee through 2005 before the arrival of Ryan Clark.
The Changing of the Guard... or Tackle
With the Steelers showing little-to-no interest in re-signing starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva this offseason, he departed for the Baltimore Ravens. Villanueva had started 97 straight games at left tackle for the Steelers over the last six seasons including the postseason. Before that, left tackle Kelvin Beachum started 26 straight games for the Steelers at the position.
When the Steelers take the field in Week 1 of the 2021 season, assuming the Steelers don’t make a crazy move to somehow add Villanueva or Beachum to be their starter at left tackle, it will have been 2,835 days since the last time a different player started at the position. In Week 14 of the 2013 season, Mike Adams filled in at left tackle when Beachum missed the game with a knee injury. Whoever earns the job come September, hopefully they can perform admirably and continue another strong run of consecutive starts at the position.
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.