In 1984 the Pittsburgh Steelers sought to pair a young talented wide receiver with the long-time veteran John Stallworth, who was the team's all-time leading receiver and one of the last remaining players from the four Super Bowls of the 1970's.
That receiver turned out to be Louis Lipps, the 23rd overall pick of the 1984 draft. Lipps turned out to be a great pick, one who, if the Steelers had started a better quarterback during his tenure, might have been able to help the team to a Super Bowl appearance during the drought from 1980 to 1995. Nevertheless, Lipps still gained several honors, making two Pro Bowls, earning NFL Rookie of the Year, and twice being named to the Associated Press All-Pro team.
We found some film from his All-Pro season of 1985 when the Steelers faced the San Diego Chargers on Monday night football.
Lipps in traffic
Lipps was tough coming off the line of scrimmage at all times and his speed often factored into the respect opposing defensive backs gave him. His NCAA experience at Southern Miss did not face him up against top competition, but that did not matter in his early NFL seasons. Here he shows his release at the line and makes a big catch for a first down over the middle.
Raw speed used by Noll
Lipps was a player that Pittsburgh sought to use in a variety of ways. His talents made him a resource which the team could exploit against opponents not just on the air but by any means of getting the ball in his hands. Here's an example when he was able to get the corner on a reverse and score a touchdown.
Touchdown off the slant
Lipps also ran sharp routes in his day. Here he runs from a bunch set and finds an open hole in the defense to become an easy target for a touchdown.
Lipps unfortunate to be in a rough era for Pittsburgh
The Steelers have a strong history of having wide receivers make great plays in the Super Bowl era. Both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth were elite players in the 1970's that made for one of the best wide receiver pairs of all time. The Steelers have the most Super Bowl MVP's at the wide receiver position: Lynn Swann won it in Super Bowl X, while the now all-time leading Steelers receiver, Hines Ward won it in Super Bowl XL; the most recent was a player who did not have as illustrious a career as Ward, Swann or Stallworth, but Santonio Holmes had one of the best playoff performances ever by a wide receiver in 2008-2009. Add that to the fact that Antonio Brown is leading the NFL as one of its best all around players today, and you already have a great five-receiver set to make an all-time unit.
But all those receivers had elite quarterbacks to work with in either Terry Bradshaw or Ben Roethlisberger. Louis Lipps had to work with the likes of Mark Malone, David Woodley and Bubby Brister. Lipps managed to 6,019 yards on 359 receptions and scored 39 touchdowns in his eight year career, with all but one of those seasons being with the Pittsburgh Steelers as he would play for the New Orleans Saints in 1992.
Lipps deserves recognition for being one of the better players in the mid-to-late 1980's for Pittsburgh in a time that saw the end of the Chuck Noll era draw near. Many Steelers fans that could not watch during his era may never know how good of a player Lipps was in his time because he was not part of any Super Bowl season. The Steelers fans who do know how good Lipps was understand how unfortunate it was Pittsburgh could not pair him with a good quarterback.