The Pittsburgh Steelers Community lost one of its greats on Saturday morning with the passing of former Pro Bowl tackle and broadcaster Tunch Ilkin. Touching the lives of almost everyone he came in contact with, Ilkin’s legacy goes far beyond that of football.
Beyond being an NFL player, Ilkin made the most of his life as a broadcaster and pastor after his playing days. Upon hearing of his passing, numerous reporting and broadcasting colleagues and former players took to Twitter to offer their condolences to the Ilkin family.
RIP Tunch— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) September 4, 2021
Thank you for taking a youngin like me under your wing and showing me how to do things the right way. It was an honor to share the booth with you and Bill for two games last year. You will be truly missed. Love you Bro pic.twitter.com/KWWQK53471
RIP Tunch Ilkin. Just a prince of a man who left this world far too soon. Terrible news.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) September 4, 2021
RIP Tunch. An incredible man.— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) September 4, 2021
RIP Tunch Ilkin— Josh Getzoff (@PensJG) September 4, 2021
RIP Tunch Ilkin. I’ve been in Pittsburgh for more than a decade, and he’s the rare person in sports media you never heard a negative word about. All class.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) September 4, 2021
Tunch got to know my wife through some sports rehab he did about five years ago. That is when I jumped on the Steelers beat. When he put 2+2 together, he kidded me every single time he saw me about how lucky I was to have her. He was right, of course, but that was Tunch to a T!— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 4, 2021
Very sad news. A great man and a great friend to many, Tunch Ilkin, has passed away. Thoughts and prayers are with the Ilkin family— Alby Oxenreiter (@albyox) September 4, 2021
Sooo sad today A wonderful, faithful man and a great friend Tunch Ilkin, has died. Condolences and prayers are with the Ilkin family. His faith was incredible.— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) September 4, 2021
RIP Tunch Ilkin. One of the most thoroughly decent men to walk the face of the earth. He will be missed.— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) September 4, 2021
Well done, Tunch! You are a great example of the power of God’s love. I’ll miss you. See you soon. pic.twitter.com/DkOmaCNesN— Kent Chevalier (@kentchevalier) September 4, 2021
Just really bummed about Tunch Ilkin’s passing. When I covered the team, he always went out of his way to say hello to me and ask if I needed any help carrying all my equipment. He was as genuine as they come. Really sad news today— Jaime Baker (@JBaker_WTOV) September 4, 2021
When my wife Cindi's lung cancer returned for the 2nd X, Stage 3, Tunch Ilkin grabbed my hand in a DVE studio, we knelt down & Tunch said a prayer for Cindi.— Sean Mcdowell (@dvesean) September 4, 2021
That's the kinda guy Tunch was.
Wolf, we're praying very hard for you too, pal. Please hug Tunch's family for us. pic.twitter.com/KI4DVfYBc1
What?! . A great man! Rest In Peace Tunch. Helped push the technique of lineman punching and using their hands. The Tunch Punch! https://t.co/j7plaP7ppQ— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) September 4, 2021
Tunch Ilkin was a giant among men, literally & figuratively. Endlessly devoted to his family, profoundly successful athlete & broadcaster, & constantly serving the less fortunate. If we all strived to be more like Tunch the world would be a better place. A true Pittsburgh icon.— Randy Baumann (@DVERandy) September 4, 2021
met a finer person. I am shocked , but not surprised. Heaven just became a finer place. Rest easy, my friend.— Stan Savran (@StanLoveTheShow) September 4, 2021
We lost a Great one— Brett Keisel (@bkeisel99) September 4, 2021
Rest in Paradise my friend pic.twitter.com/EvBJSUKfzl
Tunch Ilkin, who touched everyone, especially those who worked closely w him, has passed away. Not sure I ever met a better human being. ❤️— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 4, 2021
Loved going up to Tunch Ilkin to ask him about random Steelers camp offensive linemen. He would always break it down for me. Tunch was the epitome of a Great Human. You will not find a person who has a negative thing to say about him and that says all you need to know— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 4, 2021
Tunch.— Chris Mack (@THEChrisMack) September 4, 2021
Watched him play when I was little.
Grew up listening to him.
Was always genuinely kind when you’d run in to him.
Thoughts with his family, friends, and loved ones.
The only time that I met Tunch Ilkin he hugged me as if we were lifelong friends. I couldn’t believe someone could be that friendly and kind. A very special man. RIP Tunch.— Steve Mears (@MearsyNHL) September 4, 2021
Tunch Ilkin has died while battling pneumonia and ALS. A better person you will never meet. Sad day.— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 4, 2021
Memories of Tunch date back to his playing days. Always engaging before the games, always available after the games, even the toughest of losses. Post-playing career he figured out how to put service of others first and derive joy and peace from his remarkably humanity. God bless— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) September 4, 2021
Imagine living a life of such goodness, of such genuine generosity, that all you do is *add* to the lives of others on a daily basis.— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) September 4, 2021
That’s Tunch. Unlike anyone I’ve known.
A life brilliantly lived.
Rest in Power O.G. You will be missed. One of the greatest humans I know!! All love Tunch. Thank you for just being you. pic.twitter.com/AmLO6I49hf— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) September 4, 2021
Not sure I’ve ever met a more compassionate human being. Thank you for your kindness, and devotion and love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.— Jack Hillgrove (@JackWTOV9) September 4, 2021
RIP Tunch. pic.twitter.com/4FC1OVNdZ3
Rest In Peace Tunch Ilkin. What incredibly sad news. Just stops you in your tracks and makes you cry.— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) September 4, 2021
But I also think of this measure: If you can live a life from beginning to end and no one has something negative to say about you, what a success.
Tunch did that. Few do.
I am terribly saddened by the news of Tunch Ilkin’s passing. He was a man I looked up to in so many ways. My love and condolences to the Ilkin family. Rest In peace in the presence of the prince of peace, Jesus Christ! Godspeed brother. #steelersbrother— Chris Hoke (@hokiebro76) September 4, 2021
Tunch Ilkin was a voice of my childhood. He left an everlasting impact. I'm devastated he's gone, particularly for his family. A legend.— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) September 4, 2021
Tunch Ilkin made time for anybody. That included me on occasions I found myself helping on Steelers stories. He was a big man with a bigger heart, grateful and gracious and a giver. Very good player. Exceptional color analyst. Unforgettable Pittsburgher. Rest In Power, Tunch.— Rob Rossi (@Real_RobRossi) September 4, 2021
When I say Tunch Ilkin made time for everybody, he really made time for everybody. I didn’t know him well, but I’m fortunate to be able to say I did get to know him a little bit. He loved his family, football, God, the Steelers and people in no particular order. RIP.— Mike J. Asti (@MikeAsti11) September 4, 2021
May Tunch Ilkin Rest In Peace I didn’t know him personally, but he always had such a radiant smile when I’d pass him in the Steelers press box last season.— Jenna Harner (@JennaHarner11) September 4, 2021
Sending thoughts and prayers to his family, and all of the lives he impacted. He was truly an incredibly special soul.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Tunch Ilkin. Our thoughts are with Tunch’s family at this time. https://t.co/sFusbSrVyz— Kennywood (@Kenny_Kangaroo) September 4, 2021
Heaven apparently needed an offensive tackle or color commentator. Tunch was the absolute best. Wonderful, kind soul. Impacted everyone he met. A true legend. RIP Tunch.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) September 4, 2021
I have a Tunch Ilkin story that I will never forget. Ever. RIP. pic.twitter.com/1qRHu7uzhp— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) September 4, 2021
The Steelers lost a lot of games in the 80s. Their locker room could be a tough place to work after games. The one guy you knew you could go to for answers given politely and patiently was Tunch Ilkin. Every time. Spoke/speaks volumes. RIP— John Steigerwald (@Steigerworld) September 4, 2021
You’ll be missed, Tunch.— Primanti Bros (@primantibros) September 4, 2021
Statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II on the passing of Tunch Ilkin: pic.twitter.com/fdjFz9rI23— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 4, 2021
A great man and a great mentor to so many of us. He would always take a moment and talk to me about my family and how everybody was doing. His lasting impression on me will always be the man of Faith that he is. Any time I wanted to talk, he was there. Rest easy Tunch! pic.twitter.com/1zTZ4hFrFF— BJ Finney (@catcenter66) September 4, 2021
A man of integrity, honor, and faith. You will be missed by many. Rest in paradise, Tunch.— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) September 4, 2021
I am heartbroken to hear the news about Tunch Illkin. He was an amazing person with a huge heart and will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his entire family and Steelers Nation. We lost an inspiration to all of us today— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) September 4, 2021
: @TheAthletic pic.twitter.com/L4Xj2TVYuR
Don't ever be afraid to tell someone you love them, that you care, because you never know. I was blessed to call Tunch a friend for over 30 years.— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) September 4, 2021
I pray for his family, for all his friends. One thing we all know though is we are better for having had him on our lives.
Tunch Ilkin didn't know me from a hole in the ground when I arrived in 2011. Yet he made me feel instantly like I'd been in the city and around the Steelers my whole career. I soon graduated from "hey man" to "Hey Will."— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) September 4, 2021
Not b/c of me. But b/c that's just how he was. RIP
Today we lost an incredible man with the passing of Tunch Ilkin. Tunch was special, someone who impacted everyone he came in contact with, myself included. He loved his family, lived his faith, and serving others was his passion. My prayers go out to his family.— Mike Tomlin (@CoachTomlin) September 4, 2021
We lost a great one today but God received an Angel. Tunch Ilkin was a great friend and truly the most genuine guy I know. From random phone calls just to pray for my family and I, to poking fun at each other on the radio. You will be missed brother!! @steelers pic.twitter.com/6SiJAIoTDD— Bruce Gradkowski (@bgradkowski5) September 4, 2021
My heart is heavy, I learned about the passing of Tunch Ilkin. A lot of people knew Tunch as a tremendous LT for the #Steelers or the Color Analyst for the team. I first learned about him thru his Tunch Punch Videos as a young lineman! Got to know him better over the years #RIH— Max Starks IV (@maxstarks78) September 4, 2021
Back in 2012 when when our tiny show went to Steelers training camp to film for the first time we were nervous beyond belief but Tunch made sure put to rest any worry that we didn’t belong as he instantly made us feel comfortable and right at home. Truly thankful. RIP.— Curt Wootton (@CurtWootton) September 4, 2021
Steeler Nation, we lost one of our own today. Tunch symbolized what the Black and Gold is all about. He was a great friend. We will all miss you my brother. RIP. #saddayinpittsburgh— Hines Ward (@mvp86hinesward) September 4, 2021
The BTSC Breaking News podcast giving tribute to the late Tunch Ilkin can be heard below: