The Steelers' modern day "Dream Team" was finally announced in full over July 4th weekend.
Steelers.com's Bob Labriola released the entire Steelers All-Modern Era team this past weekend, a list that includes seven active players and 19 other standout players from 1992 and beyond. Three players selected have already been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that list will surely increase in the coming years.
Marvel Smith, Maurkice Pouncey, Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca, and Max Starks make up the offensive line, while current Steeler Heath Miller was tabbed as the unit's tight end. Ben Roethlisberger is the unit's starting quarterback, and at his disposal are wide receivers Antonio Brown and Hines Ward. In the backfield, Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis will be flanked by 2014 All-Pro Le'Veon Bell.
Cameron Heyward, Casey Hampton, and Aaron Smith man the defensive line, while Ike Taylor and Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson make up the team's corner backs. The team's linebackers, arguably the greatest facet of the team, includes Greg Lloyd, James Farrior, Joey Porter and James Harrison. The safeties aren't too shabby either, with the versatile Carnell Lake and future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu solidifying this modern era Steel Curtain defense.
The team's specialists include punter Josh Miller, return man Antwaan Randle El, kicker Jeff Reed and long snapper Greg Warren.
While each member alluded to above are deserving of their selection, there are several other great Steelers from the modern era that should be mentioned as well. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh's starting running back on both Super Bowl championship teams in the 2000s, was a two-time Pro Bowl choice, a three-time 1,000-yard back who twice amassed over 200 rushing yards in a game during the 2006 season. Jeff Hartings played six seasons in Pittsburgh and was named an All-Pro in 2004 and a Pro Bowler as the team's starter center during the 2005 championship season.
If you were going to name a third receiver to this list, it's hard to argue that Yancey Thigpen wouldn't be your guy. Thigpen was twice named a Pro Bowl receiver and was the team's most electrifying receiver in the 1990s. There was also Santonio Holmes, who followed up his Super Bowl XLIII MVP effort with a 1,000-yard season in 2009.
Joel Steed was an anchor on Pittsburgh's defensive lines throughout the 1990s, playing eight seasons at nose tackle and being named a Pro Bowler in 1997. Another 1990s standout was linebacker Levon Kirkland, who earned two Pro Bowl berths in 1996 and '97 and, if Pittsburgh would have won Super Bowl XXX, would have made a strong argument for game MVP by virtue of his eight tackles and fourth quarter sack of Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. There was also linebacker Kevin Greene, who racked up 35.5 sacks and two Pro Bowl trips in his three seasons in Pittsburgh. Fellow linebacker Jason Gildon put together 10 quality seasons in Pittsburgh that saw him tally 77 sacks, three double-digit sack seasons, three Pro Bowl nods and an All-Pro selection in 2001.
While the Steelers of the 1970s will always be the benchmark of great Steelers, it's good to see Labriola and Steelers.com honor the second wave of football tradition in Pittsburgh. It's a reminder of the rich tradition that lies within this franchise and that continues to this day.