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Steelers legend Tunch Ilkin passes away at the age of 63

The former Steelers offensive lineman and broadcaster had recently stepped away due to his battle with ALS.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Steelers’ Nation has lost one of its great personalities. It has been reported by KDKA that former Steelers offensive tackle and and broadcaster Tunch Ilkin has passed away Saturday morning at the age of 63.

Last October, Ilkin announced he had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It has been reported Ilkin had be hospitalized for over a week with pneumonia.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL draft by the Steelers, Ilkin often discussed how he did not originally make the Steelers roster but was called back to re-join the team during the season. In his 14 year career, Ilkin played 13 in Pittsburgh while appearing in one game in 1993 for the Green Bay Packers. Ilkin appeared in 176 games for the Steelers and started 143. He was named to the Pro Bowl in both 1988 and 1989.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Ilkin’s family moved to the United States when he was two years old. Ilkin played his collegiate football for Indiana State.

Ilkin joined the broadcast booth with Bill Hillgrove and Myron cope in 1998. Since Myron Cope’s retirement in 2004, it has been Hillgrove and Ilkin in the booth with Ilkin’s former teammate Craig Wolfley as the sideline reporter.

In June, Ilkin announced he would be stepping away for the broadcast booth in order to focus on his treatment. His longtime friend Craig Wolfley moved from the sidelines to replace Ilkin in the booth with former Steelers tackle Max Starks taking over the sideline duties for the Steelers radio broadcast.

Tunch Ilkin touched the lives of many people both within the NFL and beyond. Ilkin was an associate pastor at The Bible Chapel in McMurray, PA.

Ilkin’s first wife, Sharon Senefeld, preceded him in death in 2012 after a long battle with cancer. Tunch Ilkin is survived by his three children Tanner, Natalie, and Clay as well as his second wife Karen Rafferty who he married in 2013.

On behalf of Behind The Steel Curtain and all of Steelers’ Nation, we are saddened by the loss of the legendary Tunch Ilkin. For those who have been following the Steelers, whether it be through his playing days or his work with Steelers Radio and various spots on steelers.com, he will be greatly missed.


The BTSC Breaking News podcast giving tribute to the late Tunch Ilkin can be heard below: