clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Farrior, Harrison, Lloyd and Porter tabbed for Steelers' All-Modern Era team

New, comments

In a running series on Steelers.com, longtime Steelers beat reporter Bob Labriola chose James Farrior, James Harrison, Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter as the linebackers for Pittsburgh's All-Modern Era Team.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

To say that James Farrior, James Harrison, Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter enjoyed successful careers with the Steelers would be an understatement

Together, this quartet played thirty-nine combined seasons in Pittsburgh, earned 15 Pro Bowl berths, 15 All-Pro selections, played in eight Super Bowl and won five Super Bowl titles between them. More than stats, they created a bevy of memories that Steelers fans will remember forever.

This week, longtime Steelers reporter Bob Labriola of steelers.com named these four as  the team's linebackers for the Steelers' mythical All-Modern Era Team that consists of the team's best players at each position since Bill Cowher's first team in 1992.

Linebacker was probably the hardest position to pick from, given the team has had a bevy of talented linebackers over the past 23 years. Some talented linebackers were inevitably left off the team, such as Pro Bowlers Kevin Greene, Levon Kirkland and Jason Gildon.While one could make valid arguments for each of these players, Labriola made the right choices for his top-four linebackers in the modern era.

Drafted by Chuck Noll in 1988, Lloyd became a starter in '89 and, in 1991, started a run of five consecutive Pro Bowl berths and was an All-Pro choice each season from '93-95. Lloyd's ascension was parallel to the team's success, as the Steelers made the playoffs each year from 1992-95 and reaching the AFC title game in 1994 and Super Bowl XXX at the conclusion of the '95 season. A year after recording 10 sacks, Lloyd tallied 6.5 sacks in '95 to go with three interceptions and six forced fumbles while being the most feared pass rusher in the NFL. Lloyd's intimidation fueled the Blitzburgh defense that spearheaded Pittsburgh's charge to 23 regular season wins during those two memorable seasons.

Acquired out of Colorado State in 1999, Porter recorded 10.5 sacks the following season, and never looked back. In eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Porter recorded 60 sacks to go with 39 forced fumbles and 10 interceptions. He earned four Pro Bowl berths along with being an All-Pro performer in 2002. During the Steelers' Super Bowl run in 2005, Porter notched 10.5 sacks while forcing four fumbles and picking off two passes. Beyond stats, Porter was the defense's emotional leader throughout his time in the Steel City and most especially during Pittsburgh's unprecedented run from 7-5 to Super Bowl champions.

Flanking Porter at right outside linebacker for five seasons was Farrior, was who acquired by Pittsburgh in 2002 after spending his first five seasons with the New York Jets and helping them reach the 1998 AFC Championship Game. Farrior enjoyed a breakout season in 2004, his second season with the Steelers, as No.51 picked off four passes (returning one for a touchdown), defensed 12 more to go with three forced fumbles. Farrior anchored a defense that helped Pittsburgh win a then AFC record 15 regular season games en route to the AFC Championship Game. Farrior continued to be a stalwart on the defense throughout the 2000s, starting at linebacker for each of the teams three most recent Super Bowl appearances.

Harrison more than made up for lost time once he finally became a starter in 2007 at the age of 29. Highlighted by his standout performance in prime time that season against the Ravens, Harrison started a streak of five straight Pro Bowl berths that season that included earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. No.92 climaxed that memorable season with one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history with his 100-yard interception return for a score in Super Bowl XLIII. After one season in Cincinnati, Harrison came back to Pittsburgh last season to help provide a spark on the field while displaying his now famous work ethic off of the field. His leadership will continue to be key as Pittsburgh's young, revamped defense looks to find its way in 2015.

The Steelers have had a bevy of talented players during this modern era at other positions, most notably quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and running back Jerome Bettis, among others. But, as Labriola put it in his story, the Steelers have a unique tradition when fielding top-tier linebackers.

"Even though the franchise has had the most famous defensive line in NFL history, the only quarterback to be 4-0 in Super Bowls, the cornerback who helped force the NFL to change its rules regarding pass defense for the 1978 season, and four different centers who were voted first-team All-Pro 15 times since 1978, it’s always been about the Steelers linebackers," Labriola said. "Choosing the best four linebackers was the most difficult chore in assembling this All-Modern Era team, and it needs to be emphasized here again that this is a subjective analysis. There are legitimate cases to be made for several of the linebackers not included in this final four, but for my team, these are the players I want at the position."