Ranking the top 15 Pittsburgh Steelers in franchise history

Top 15 Steelers
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1978: Terry Bradshaw #12 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with head coach Chuck Noll during an NFL football game circa `1978. Noll was the head coach of the Steelers from 1969-91. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. As such they have their fair share of legendary players. It’s extremely hard to pick just 15 of their players to include on this list (plus one honorable mention), so you might not see every name you want to here.

Feel free to go check out the team’s all-time stats and draw your own conclusions. For now, these are my top 15 Steelers of all-time.

HM- Jerome Bettis RB (1996-2005)

There were a lot of players that were deserving of this spot. I considered Alan Faneca, Dermontti Dawson, Donnie Shell, Le’Veon Bell, Greg Lloyd, John Stallworth, and Lynn Swann, but I decided to give this spot to The Bus instead. Bettis ended his career with a fairytale Super Bowl victory in his hometown of Detroit in 2005. He is second all-time in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns in Steelers history.

15. L.C. Greenwood DE (1969-1981)

Greenwood is too often forgotten. He actually has more sacks in a Steelers uniform than Greene did and was a huge contributor on the Steel Curtain. He made six Pro Bowl and was a two-time First-Team All-Pro.

14. James Harrison LB (2002-2012, 2014-2017)

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Harrison was the living embodiment of the quintessential Steeler in the modern era. He followed in the footsteps of Jack Lambert, Greg Lloyd, and Joey Porter, surpassing all of them but Lambert. His 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the Super Bowl is one of the game’s greatest plays ever.

13. Antonio Brown WR (2010-Present)

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It feels weird putting Brown this high up but what’s weirder is that he should be even higher. Brown has accomplished so much and is the most talented wide receiver in Steelers history. If I’m being honest, I probably got this ranking wrong. It’s just hard to tell what Brown’s lasting legacy will be at this point. The coming years will make everything more obvious and I’ll make revisions.

12. Ernie Stautner NT (1950-1963)

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Stautner was the original Pittsburgh Steeler. The team’s lore surrounding hard-nose, hard-hitting defenders all stems from him. The team wasn’t very good during his time with them, but Stautner was good enough to make nine Pro Bowls.

11. Troy Polamalu SS (2003-2014)

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Dropping Polamalu outside of the top ten was really hard. In terms of raw talent, he easily tops Ward, but I just can’t bring myself to put him over #86. Polamalu was one of the most instinctive players of all-time and made many miraculous plays throughout his career.

10. Hines Ward WR (1998-2011)

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Ward is above more talented players on this list and that’s because of his mentality and what he brought to the Steelers as a person not just as a football player. When he retired, Ward held every major Steelers receiving record.

9. Jack Ham LB (1971-1982)

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Ham wasn’t as touch as some of his fellow Steelers, but he was just as skilled. From the linebacker position he intercepted 32 passes, recovered 21 fumbles, and recorded an unofficial 25 sacks, making him one of the most dynamic men to ever play the position.

8. Mike Webster C (1974-1988)

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Webster was the steel anchor of the 1970’s offense. The nine-time Pro Bowler wore the black and gold for 15 of his 17 years in the NFL and is one of the greatest centers of all-time.

7. Rod Woodson CB (1987-1996)

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Woodson wasn’t as bruising as Blount, but he was every bit as good of a shutdown corner. During his ten-year run with the Steelers Woodson won the 1993 Defensive Player of the Year Award, went to seven Pro Bowls, and recorded 38 interceptions. He was also a deadly return man.

6. Mel Blount CB (1970-1983)

Have you ever heard of the Mel Blount rule? I suggest you go look it up, but basically, a rule was created to prevent defenders from attacking wide receivers near the line of scrimmage. Blount’s physical style often took receivers out of the play before they could even get into their routes.

5. Franco Harris RB (1972-1983)

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Bradshaw might have been the quarterback, but Harris was the engine that made the offense go. He rushed for over 1,000 yards eight times in his career and went to nine Pro Bowls.

4. Terry Bradshaw QB (1970-1983)

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He won an MVP and led the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories during the 1970’s. Bradshaw is forever remembered as the face of the Steelers dynasty team.

3. Ben Roethlisberger QB (2004-Present)

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While Bradshaw won an MVP, it’s easy to see that Roethlisberger is the better quarterback. These past few seasons have seen the once middling QB transform into one of the most consistent and threatening gun-slingers in the league.

2. Jack Lambert LB (1974-1984)

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Lambert and his toothless snarl are forever etched in NFL lore. His hard-hitting, ferocious playing style makes him one of the greatest linebackers of all time.

1. “Mean” Joe Greene DT (1969-1981)

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The heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain in the 1970s, Greene is one of the twenty greatest football players of all time.


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