In Parts One and Two of Steelers Digit Dynasty, BTSC examined the best of the best to wear the numbers from 0-50 in franchise history. This time around, our journey takes us through No. 75. We will answer such burning digital questions like:
- Will Dave DeCastro’s career accomplishments place him as the all-time best six-sixer?
- Is Kevin Dotson already the best No. 69 in just one season.
- Are all members of the Steel Curtain honored in this space?
In the third installment of the four-part “Digit Dynasty” series, we recognize the best Steelers players in franchise history to wear numbers 51 to 75.
We will see. Let’s take a look.
Part Three: Numbers 51-75
Note: Years provided came from The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Media Guide
No. 51 LB James Farrior (2002-2011)
The Steelers 2004 MVP remains one of the best free-agent signings in team history. The man known as “Potsie” was a key contributor to the success of the defense in the 2000s. Farrior had 730 tackles, 30 sacks, 8 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries at his inside linebacker position during his time in the Steel City. James was honored by twice being selected to the Pro Bowl.
Current Wearer: LB Buddy Johnson, G Trai Turner
No. 52 C Mike Webster (1974-1988)
Webster was the iron man of the Steelers for so many years. Playing for 15 years in the black-and-gold, Mike no longer be the longest-tenured Steelers player ever when Ben Roethlisberger started his 16th season last September. A member of the legendary, 1974 class, Webster anchored the line that protected Steelers passers and ball-carriers through four Super Bowl titles. “Iron Mike” was named All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl nine times. He achieved the rare feat of being named to The NFL All-Decade team for both the 70s and the 80s. Along with being enshrined in Canton, both the league and the franchise named him to their 75th Aniversary All-Time teams. Unfortunately, Webster was also the first NFL player diagnosed with CTE, and Steelers Nation mourned his passing in 2002 at age 50.
No. 53 C Maurkice Pouncey (2010-2020)
Pouncey carries on a long line of excellence at the center position. The 8-time Pro Bowler and 5-time All-Pro was the winner of the Joe Greene Award in 2010. Pouncey is so valuable to Ben Roethlisberger, the QB reportedly voted for him as team MVP in 2017.
Other Notables: LB Dennis “Dirt” Winston 1977-1981, Brian Hinkle 1982-1993, LB Clark Haggans 2000-2007
Current Wearer: C Kendrick Green
No. 54 LB Hardy Nickerson (1987-1992)
Nickerson spent six productive years in Pittsburgh before joining the Bucs. During his Steeltown days, Nickerson recorded 9.5 quarterback sacks. After leaving the Steelers, Nickerson was a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro in Tampa. He is also a member of the NFL’s All-90s team.
Other Notables: WR/DE Val Jasante 1945-1951, LB Marv Kellum 1974-1976, LB Zack Valentine 1979-1981, LB Donta Jones 1995-1998, LS Mike Schneck 1999-2004, LB Andre Frazier 2007-2010)
Current Wearer: LB Ulysees Gilbert III
No. 55 LB Joey Porter (1999-2006)
Nick-named “Peasey,” the linebacker was a whirling dervish of a pass-rusher for eight years at Heinz Field. Porter was named a Pro-Bowler and All-Pro on three occasions. 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 once was shot below the buttocks outside of a club in Denver in 2003, only missed two games due to the incident. Joey was relieved of his duties in 2019 as outside linebackers coach for the Steelers.
Other Notables: OT Jon Kolb 1969-1981, LB Jerry Olsavsky 1989-1997, LB Arthur Moats 2014-Present
Current Wearer: LB Devin Bush Jr.
No. 56 C Ray Mansfield (1964-1976)
The man known as “Ranger” during his playing days started his career with the Steelers as a defensive tackle. Mansfield, who could place-kick also, was best known as a center during his 13-year Steelers tenure. The two-time All-Pro was a Super Bowl IX and X champion. Ray passed away at the young age of 55 when he suffered a heart attack while hiking in 1996.
Current Wearer: LB Alex Highsmith
No. 57 (Tie) G Sam Davis (1967-1979) /LB Mike Merriweather (1982-1987)
Davis was a solid protector in his 13-year career with the Steelers. The offensive lineman is a veteran of Super Bowl’s IX,X,XIII and XIV.
Merriweather was a dominant sack-man for the Steelers, highlighted by 15 in 1984. Sitting out in 1988 due to a contract dispute, Mike was traded to the Vikings in 1988 for a No. 1 pick that netted T Tom Ricketts.
Other Notables: C/LB Frank Sinkovitz 1947-1952, C Ed Beatty 1957-1961, LB Jerrol Williams 1990-1992, LB John Fiala 1998-2002, LB Clint Kriewaldt 2003-2007
Current Wearer: LS Cameron Kanaday
No. 58 LB Jack Lambert (1974-1984)
Lambert might be considered as the most intimidating player ever to play the game. The face of the Steel Curtain defense, Lambert was elected All-Pro eight times and to the Pro Bowl nine times. Twice a Steelers’ team-MVP, Jack had 1,479 tackles, 28 interceptions and 23.5 sacks. The 1974 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and 1976 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time team and the NFL’s 70s and 80s All-Decade Team. Though his number has never been retired, neither has it ever been issued to another Steelers’ player. Jack Lambert is a 1990 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
No. 59 LB Jack Ham (1971-1982)
Hailing from the great Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, Jack Ham is ranked as one of the best ever to suit up. Both an 8-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro, Ham played 12 years with the Steelers and holds the record for most forced turnovers as a linebacker with 53. His 32 career interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries rank him seventh and second respectively among all-time Steelers. He is a member of the Steelers All-Time team and the NFL’s 70s All-Decade Team. The Penn State grad is the Black-and-gold’s long-time color analyst and he’s also a minority owner of the minor-league hockey team, the Johnstown Tomahawks.
No. 60 DT Dale Dodrill (1951-1952 and 1954-1959)
Dodrill spent eight years in Pittsburgh Steelers gear. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro. Dale is a member of Pittsburgh’s 75th Aniversary team. He recorded 11 fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions wearing the black-and-gold.
Current Wearer: C J.C. Hassenauer
No. 61 G Tyrone McGriff (1980-1982)
The only “Mr. Irrelevant” to make the list, Tyrone McGriff was the final pick in the 1980 draft, when it still went 12 rounds. Tyrone played three years in Pittsburgh at guard. In 1983, McGriff joined the Michigan Panthers of the USFL and was a starter on their championship squad. Sadly, McGriff passed away at age 42 with a heart ailment.
Current Wearer: DE T.J. Carter, OT Aviante Collins
No. 62 G Tunch Ilkin (1980-1992)
The Turkish-American tackle played 13 years as a member of the Men of Steel. Ilkin went to two Pro Bowls as a Steeler and was considered a locker room leader. Ilkin Served as Vice-President of the NFL Player Assosciaton from 1989 to 1994. Tunch was a very valuable member of the football family, serving as the team’s color commentator on radio broadcasts from 1998 to 2020. Sadly, Tunch announced his affliction with ALS in October of 2020 and retired in early 2021.
Other Notables: G Mike Sandusky 1957-1965, OL Roger Duffy 1998-2001, C Justin Hartwig 2008-2009
Current Wearer: OT Brandon Watson
No. 63 C Dermontti Dawson (1988-2000)
The Hall of Fame snapper was originally drafted as a guard. Dawson was a dominating center, anchoring the line in the 90s, making seven straight Pro Bowls and being named to the 90s All-Decade team. Nicknamed “Dirt” for his propensity to grind opposing players into the ground, Dermontti was inducted as an immortal in Canton in 2012 and is a member of the Steelers All-Time Team.
Other Notables: Ernie Holmes DT 1972-1977
No. 64 DT Steve Furness (1972-1980)
The replacement for Ernie Homes on the Steel Curtain defense, Furness was a very effective pass rusher for the Steelers. Accumulating 32 sacks in his time in PIttsburgh, Furness ended his career as a Detroit Lion for one season in 1981. Furness returned to the Steelers in 1992/1993 as a defensive line coach. Sadly, the 4X SB Champ passed of a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 49.
No. 65 OT John Jackson (1988-1997)
John Jackson served the first ten years of his career in Pittsburgh. Playing at left tackle, the tenth-rounder out of Eastern Kentucky was a valuable bodyguard for Steel City quarterbacks. Jackson prevented turnovers by recovering five fumbles on offense in his career. He started against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.
Other Notables: DL Tom Beasley 1978-1983, OL Ray Pinney 1985-1987, G Alan Faneca 1998-1999
Current Wearer: OT Dan Moore Jr., DE Abdullah Anderson
No. 66 G Alan Faneca (2000-2007)
Faneca is one of the best offensive lineman in team history. In 10 seasons with the Steelers, Faneca was a seven-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro. Alan also was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s and the Steelers 75th Aniversary team. One of the defining plays of Faneca’s career was the pulling-block to spring Willie Parker on his 75-yard touchdown ramble in the 21-10 victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL. Down by more than 100 pounds since his playing days, Faneca looks far from the player who wore No. 65 during his first two seasons of 1998 and 1999. Big Al finally got the call to Canton in 2021.
Other Notables: LB Myron Pottios 1961-1963 and 1965, OL Bruce Van Dyke 1967-1973, OL Ted Petersen 1977-1983, DE Donald Evans 1990-1993, OL Tom Newberry 1995, OL Jim Sweeney 1996-1999, G David DeCastro 2012-2020
No. 67 DT Gary Dunn (1976-1987)
The two-time Super Bowl champion in XIII and XIV was a mainstay on the Steelers’ defense for 12 seasons. Dunn, who was named an All-Pro in 1984, had 18 sacks and nine fumble recoveries during his Steeler days.
Other Notables: T Duval Love 1992-1994, DE Kimo von Oelhoffen 2000-2005
Current Wearer: DE Calvin Taylor, OL B.J. Finney
No. 68 DE L.C. Greenwood (1969-1981)
The man with the golden shoes wore them to prevent mistaken identity. PA announcers would credit Joe Greene for some of Greenwood’s tackles, so to correct that, he would lift his legs in the air every time he made a play in order to get his proper due. The man known as “Hollywood Bags” is not in the Hall of Fame, but truly deserves to be. In 13 seasons with the Steelers, the 6’6” Greenwood was a dominant member of the Steel Curtain. He was named to six Pro Bowls and was honored twice as an All-Pro. His 73.5 sacks has him second on the Steeler career list, 4.5 of them came in one 1979 game against the Browns. L.C. is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team and the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team. He passed away at age 67.
Current Wearer: OT Anthony Coyle
No. 69 G/T Ariel Solomon (1991-1995)
A tenth-round draft pick in 1991 out of Colorado, Solomon was mostly a backup in Pittsburgh. He spent five years with the Steelers.
Other Notables: DL Gabriel Rivera 1983, NT Steve McLendon 2010
Current Wearer: OG Kevin Dotson
No. 70 DT Ernie Stautner (1950-1963)
Stautner was the first person to have his number retired by the franchise. The Hall of Fame D-lineman played in the trenches for 14 years, earning 10 All-Pro honors and was named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary all-time team. After his retirement as a player, Ernie spent 34 years in coaching.
No. 71 OT Charlie Bradshaw (1961-1966)
Left tackle Charlie Bradshaw went to two Pro Bowls as a Steeler in 1963 and 1964. Not related to Terry Bradshaw, Charlie served as the head of the NFLPA. Legend has it that Bradshaw was booed so much by Pitt Stadium fans dissatisfied by team play, that Art Rooney suspended player introductions.
Current Wearer: OT Joe Haeg
No. 72 G Gerry Mullins (1971-1979)
”Moon” spent his entire NFL career in Pittsburgh. A fourth-round pick in 1971, Mullins helped protect Terry Bradshaw and open holes for Franco Harris in all four Super Bowls of the 1970s. Mullins’ pull on a sweep helped Harris score in Super Bowl IX. “Moon” also recovered an onside kick in Super Bowl X.
Current Wearer: OT Zach Banner
No. 73 OL Craig Wolfley (1980-1989)
”Wolf” played ten years in Pittsburgh, mostly at left guard. Arriving after the Super Bowl years of the 70s, Craig was a key factor on a team that went to the playoffs four times during the 80s. In 1981, Wolfley competed and placed fifth in the World’s Strongest Man competition for the United States. He is currently a sideline reporter for Steelers broadcasts.
Current Wearer: DT Carlos Davis
74 OT Frank Varrichione (1955-1960)
Varrichione was a crushing blocker for the Steelers in the 50s. Playing at right tackle, Frank went to four of his five Pro Bowls as a Steeler.
Current Wearer: OT Chaz Green
No. 75 DL Joe Greene (1970-1981)
The selection of Joe Greene in 1969 marked the beginning of the Steelers’ Renaissance. The first draft pick of the Chuck Noll era, Greene wore No. 72 as a rookie. The following year, he switched to No. 75 and only fans wearing replicas have worn it since. Greene is considered the poster child of the 70s and was featured on the “One for the Thumb” campaign. “Mean Joe”, the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain defense, was named First-Team AFC 11 times, to the Pro-Bowl ten times and All-Pro eight times. The four-time Super Bowl champ was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969 and twice was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a member of the NFL’s 75th Aniversary Team and the Steelers All-Time Team. Joe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2014, Greene became only the second Steelers player to have his number retired. His iconic Coke commercial is considered one of the best Super Bowl ads of all time. Today, Joe Greene remains with the Steelers in an advisory position.
These are the digits that define the decades...who will be next?
Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Digit Dynasty Series