Welcome to the dog days of the summer offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Consider this as the perfect time for cookouts and family vacations, because it is the calm before the six month storm that is the NFL season, even longer for the playoff participants.
Noteworthy news is in high demand, but in short supply, during this portion of the offseason. Some Steelers faithful checkout for a few weeks, recharging their batteries to assure maximum voltage for the season.
We all consider no news to be good news, for the most part, because the last thing we want to hear about are injuries or legal issues during this short break. Hopefully the only stories are about players’ vacation getaways with their family and friends.
I usually try to focus on thought-provoking articles that tend to be a little out of left field for this month of nothingness. Potential trades and/or free agent signings are always a fun topic for discussion, as are Steelers legacy articles.
This is a Steelers legacy article, about Steelers legendary cornerback Mel Blount, one of the greatest pure athletes the league has ever seen.
The inspiration for this article came from a recent Top 10 list posted on Twitter. The focus of the list was the Top 10 pure athletes in sports history. All sports were taken into consideration. Obvious names like Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan, and Usain Bolt made the list. Number one on this particular list was Bo Jackson, which I personally agreed with. Bo Jackson had a tragically short football career, but he was the best pure athlete I ever saw when healthy.
That got me thinking, which is always a dangerous proposition, who is the greatest pure athlete in Pittsburgh Steelers history?
Two names immediately came to mind, and they actually played the same position. Mel Blount and Rod Woodson are not only legendary Hall of Fame cornerbacks for the Steelers, but they are the two best athletes in Steelers history.
First, I should admit I consider Blount and Woodson to be the two best corners in NFL history, so I am biased. However, that's not a problem, because this is a Steelers Top 10 list, and no rational individual would ever question their elite level athleticism.
Next, how did I come to the final conclusion that Blount was No. 1 on my list? In an incredibly close decision, Blount eked out the victory.
Blount was an Adonis. He was tall, fast, and powerful. He was always the alpha in every matchup. He ran like a gazelle, and hit like a bull. He personified intimidation at the cornerback position.
At a legit 6'3" and 215 lbs., Blount had the length and girth of a linebacker. Reportedly, he was basically the same size as Steelers enforcer Jack Lambert by the end of each season, as Lambert's weight consistently dropped during the season. Blount never varied, due to the fact he is a genetic freak.
Blount had the superior speed of a elite corner. Since Blount played prior to the whole NFL Combine craze that we all have come to know and love, official numbers are simply not available, although all reports suggest at least a 4.4 forty time, with many claiming a sub-4.4 time would be spot on. Put it this way, Blount appeared to be as fast as he wanted to be, or at least needed to be.
Blount was far from a kind and gentle cornerback, in the mold of a “Neon” Deion Sanders. Blount looked at opposing receivers like a frustrated mother looks at unruly toddlers, basically saying "Don't you make me chase you!" He put the bump into the bump and run coverage, but he could run step for step with even the fastest receivers. If you can't tell by now, I believe any corner being considered in any best-ever discussion should be a complete player, not just elite in one aspect of playing the position.
Blount was indeed an explosive athlete, even nearing retirement. I read a story about high hurdle track star and eventual 49errs wide receiver Renaldo Nehemiah doing a private workout for multiple NFL teams in the early 80's, with some Steelers scouts in attendance. Nehemiah was a world class athlete, and was putting on a show. Blount happened to pass by at some point, and demonstrated his vertical for those present that day. He checked in at 40"+, in dress shoes no less.
I believe I read the story in Sports Illustrated back in the day, but I am not certain. I wholeheartedly believe that report, because of what an unbelievable physical specimen Blount remains to this very day. The man is 74 years young, and he still looks like he could go a down or two.
Finally, Blount had the punishing hitting ability of a safety, which makes perfect sense, because he played both cornerback and safety in college at Southern University at a All-American level. Don't believe me, look it up.
My best present day comparison for Mel Blount happens to be a wide receiver. Seattle Seahawks D.K. Metcalf. For those too young to remember Blount, Metcalf's unbelievable physique and athleticism is a legitimate comparison.
So there you have it. The reasoning behind why I believe Mel Blount is the most athletic player in Pittsburgh Steelers history, just edging out Rod Woodson.
Who do you think was the best athlete between the two? Maybe you think it's someone else who I may have overlooked. Share your opinion by voting in the attached poll, and by commenting in the available thread.
It promises to be an intriguing discussion.
Who's the most athletic player in Pittsburgh Steelers history?
This poll is closed
A = Mel Blount
B = Rod Woodson
C = Other