It’s the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers and there are so many topics to talk and write about. Free agents, the coordinator conundrum, the next quarterback, the NFL Draft, and breaking news will all be covered here at BTSC. But who’s going to give you little-known-facts out of the 500 Level?
Luckily, your one-stop, and non-stop, shop for everything Steelers employs a Steelers fan that was allegedly dropped on his head as a one-year-old during the Immaculate Reception. Useless and somewhat fascinating facts are his forte. So, here we are with off-the-wall thoughts from the dark side of a black-and-gold brain that nobody asked for. But the joke’s on you as you’ll be telling your peeps something you read here later.
Robert Downey Jr., apparently a fan of the NFL’s Men of Steel, recognized the Steelers Iron Man and the son of Iron Head with one of the coolest gifts ever, a prop from the movie... an Iron Man Infinity Gauntlet. How cool would it be to see No. 97 wear this iron hand in an actual game at Heinz Field? Boy, if we could only see the actual reaction of Cam who gifted the legendary actor first with a No. 97 jersey.
BTSC Steelers Jeopardy
(Answer at bottom of article)
One of the most underrated achievements in all of sports is consecutive games played. When we talk about sports and perfect attendance, Cal Ripken Jr. is the gold standard of all Iron Men playing in 2,632 straight contests. In the NFL, Brett Favre is the endurance champion by starting in 297 straight despite injuries galore. The Steelers top three in the consecutive games category are ironically centers, a very rough and tumble position in the trenches. But even more impressive is the top ten who started in the most consecutive games. Let’s take a peak of those Tony Starks with hypocycloids on their helmets courtesy of the 2021 Steelers Media Guide.
Most Consecutive Games Played
1) Ray Mansfield (1964-76) - 182
2) Mike Webster (1974-85) - 173
3) Dermontti Dawson (1988-99) - 170
4) Andy Russell (1966-76) - 154
5) Levon Kirkland (1992-00) - 144
6) Ernie Stautner (1953-63) - 137
7) Ike Taylor (2004-12) - 135
8) Mel Blount (1975-83) - 131
9) Jeff Reed (2002-10) - 127
10) Justin Strzelczyk (1990-97) - 126
Most Consecutive Games Started
1) Dermontti Dawson (1988-99) - 170
2) Mike Webster (1975-85) - 150
3) Jason Gildon (1996-2003) - 120
4) Levon Kirkland (1994-2000) - 107
5) Lawrence Timmons (2010-17) - 101
6) Darren Perry (1992-98) - 99
7) Alan Faneca (2002-07) - 96
8) James Farrior (2005-11) - 93
9) Alejandro Villanueva (2015-21) - 90
10) Dewayne Washington (1998-2003) - 88
Most Consecutive Games Started (Current Players)
Cameron Heyward - 17
Najee Harris - 17
Terrell Edmunds (Not currently under contract) - 17
Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood
Hines Ward is an actual Iron Man in real life. The legendary Steelers wide receiver became the first NFL player to complete the Kona Ironman Triathlon in October of 2013. No. 86 finished the ultimate triathlon in 13 hours, 8 minutes and 15 seconds as the 1,680th competitor to complete a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon. Nearly a year before the 2012 cinematic release of The Dark Knight Rises, the Iron Man appeared in a DC Comic movie. When one of the Christopher Nolan directed masterpiece’s most memorable scenes was filmed on August 4th, 2011 with Heinz Field doubling as the home stadium of the Gotham Rogues, the Super Bowl XL MVP returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown with the stadium blowing up behind him. Hines’ only kick return score may have been fictional, but it sure was explosive. Other members of the Steelers portraying Rouges players and coaches included Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncey, LaMarr Woodley, Mike Wallace, Aaron Smith, Ryan Clark, James Farrior, Brett Keisel, Willie Colon, Heath Miller, Casey Hampton, Mike Wallace, Bill Cowher and Omar Khan.
Middle Name Madness
We love citing the second name of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain. We always cite Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Christopher Lynn Boswell and Trent Jordan Watt, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Middle Name of the Week”. This week we feature one of the current Steelers Iron Men who is actually friends with the man who portrays the comic book hero in the movies. Below is the reaction to the video in Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood.
Cameron Phillips Heyward
This Week’s Birthdays of Steel
3/27 - Carey Davis - 41, Craig Dunaway - 61, Kris Farris - 45, Cliff Stoudt - 67,
3/28 - Mason Cole -26, Scottie Graham - 53
3/29 - Chris Calloway - 54, Corey Ivy - 45, Jerry Olsavsky - 55, Scott Shields - 46
3/30 - Jason Simmons - 46, Brendan Stai - 52
3/31 - Tyrone Carter - 46, Sammie Coates - 29, Leterrius “L.T.” Walton - 30
4/1 - Lee Mulleneaux - 114
4/2 - Roy Gerela - 74, James Washington - 26
Not every NFL legend retires with their original team, having played with no other franchise. We may try to forget the image of our Steel Heroes wearing another uniform, but it’s a part of fandom and legends sometimes change team colors. After a stellar 10-year career from 1994-2003 in Pittsburgh, the second all-time leading sacker in Steelers history spent his final NFL season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jason Gildon was a great disruption to offenses in Pittsburgh and held the title of Steelers sack master for 14 seasons until another No. 92 seized the honor in 2017.
Arriving out of Oklahoma State in the third round of the 1994 draft, Gildon joined a stacked stable of linebackers that included Levon Kirkland, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Jerry Olsavsky and Greg Lloyd. In fact, comparisons to the five-time Pro Bowler earned him the nickname of “Baby Lloyd”. Because of the talent in front of him, Gildon didn’t become a starter until 1996 but quickly became a standout on special teams. Earning three trips to the Pro Bowl from 2000 to 2002, the First Team All-Pro tallied 77 sacks in his Steelers career, seizing the crown as all-time sack king from L.C. Greenwood in 2003. After three touchdowns, three AFC Championship Games and playing in Super Bowl XXX, Gildon left the Steelers for one last hurrah with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This particular Steeler superhero was an Iron Man who started 120 consecutive games at linebacker in the Steel City.
Steelers Jeopardy Answer in the Form of a Question: Who are the Iron Men?
Pittsburgh Steelers fans may be mortified to know and not realize that Art Rooney sold the team to a Boston millionaire Alexis Thompson, who once dated Betty Grable, in 1940, and the Chief went to work with his friend Bert Bell, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. Thompson and the Philadelphia Eagles merged operations. and the new Pittsburgh-based team was called the Iron Men. While Bell and Rooney’s team kept their original name of Eagles, Rooney didn’t like being away from Pittsburgh, so the two teams swapped cities. The Eagles, along with Bert Bell, moved to Pittsburgh and became the Steelers. At the same time, Thompson and the Iron Men moved to Philly and they became the Eagles. The teams would merge temporarily in 1943 and become the Steagles for only one season during World War II.
So, there you have it. Anybody can spout out stat after stat, but not everybody can embrace the colorful and personal side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the more you know, the more you can stupefy your friends, family and neighbors with your big, black-and-gold brain. Again, “What are the Iron Men?” is the correct clue in BTSC Steelers Jeopardy.
We’ll see you right here next week. Until then keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the hypocycloids.