Pittsburgh Steelers Team History: The Ultimate Breakdown

Updated on October 16, 2019
The History of the Pittsburgh Steelers
The History of the Pittsburgh Steelers | Source

Origins of the Pittsburgh Steelers

The year was 1933 and a young Pittsburgh businessman named Arthur J. Rooney saw an opportunity before him. Only a year earlier, Pennsylvania’s archaic “blue laws” meant professional sports were banned on Sundays. Now, the Commonwealth was ready to relax those laws and open the door for NFL football in Pennsylvania.

The National Football League wanted a franchise in Pittsburgh, and Rooney already owned a popular semi-pro football team called the J.P. Rooneys. For the price of $2,500, he applied for and was granted the rights to an NFL franchise in the Steel City.

That fall, the J.P. Rooneys took the field as the Pittsburgh Pirates, named after Pittsburgh’s Major League Baseball team. In 1940, Rooney changed the team's name one last time and the Pittsburgh Steelers were born.

Baseball was king in those days, and football was an afterthought. It is unlikely that Rooney could have envisioned what would become of his little team and how much football would change in the decades ahead.

The team that would be the Pittsburgh Steelers only won three games during that first season, way back in 1933. The franchise would wait 10 seasons before they finally posted a winning record in 1942, and for decades after that, they were among the basement dwellers of the NFL.

Today, the Steelers compete for first place in their division just about every year, and it is rare that they miss they playoffs. Since 1974, they have collected eight AFC titles and six Super Bowl championships.

It’s been a long, amazing journey, and it all started when a man named Arthur J. Rooney decided to take advantage of an opportunity.

In this article, you will learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers, and possibly discover a few things you never even imagined. We’ll step back in time and review the biggest games and best players from every era of Steelers history, including:

  • The Early Years (1933-1969): The Steelers struggle through decades of heartache and defeat as one of the worst teams in the NFL.
  • The Chuck Noll Era (1969-1991): A new coach turns around a franchise and builds a dynasty with some of the greatest players in NFL history.
  • The Bill Cowher Era (1992-2006): Pittsburgh wins another Lombardi Trophy thanks to a hard-charging young coach and a new cast of iconic players.
  • The Mike Tomlin Era (2007-Present): The Steelers bring in yet another smart, young coach who leads the team to two more Super Bowls before the shadow of controversy falls over the Steel City.

Plus, you’ll find information on:

  • All-time franchise leaders in passing, rushing, receiving, and scoring.
  • Home stadiums through the years.
  • Officially (and unofficially) retired jersey numbers.
  • Steelers in the NFL Hall of Fame.
  • Steelers trivia and frequently asked questions.
  • The future of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Early Steelers History: 1933-1969

It is hard to imagine today, but for the better part of their first four decades of existence, the Steelers were one of the worst teams in the NFL. From 1933 to 1969, the Steelers only had five winning seasons and posted an overall record of 157 wins, 253 losses, and 18 ties. They made the playoffs only once (1947) and were quickly dispatched by the Philadelphia Eagles in a shutout.

But it was also during those early years that the team's tough reputation began to take shape. Even back in those days, teams knew they may beat the Steelers on the scoreboard, but it meant paying the price in bruises and blood.

As one would expect during such a tumultuous period, the Steelers saw a string of head coaches come through Pittsburgh, 13 in total prior to 1969. Only two left town with winning records: Jock Sutherland (13-9-1 from 1946-1947) and Buddy Parker (51-47-6 from 1957-1964).

Despite the losses on the field, the Steelers had their share of star players. Ernie Stautner was one of the most feared defensive linemen in the league. He made nine Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team from 1950-1963, and today his No. 70 jersey is one of only two that have been officially retired by the Steelers.

John Henry Johnson was a hard-charging fullback who made three Pro Bowls as a Steeler in the 1960s. Despite spending only six of his 13 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh, he still finished his career as the team's fifth all-time leading rusher.

Defensive back Jack Butler played for the Steelers from 1951-1959. He made four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams while intercepting 52 passes in his career.

Early Steelers history also holds one of the most interesting pieces of football trivia. During World-War II, when most young men were fighting overseas, the Steelers realized they hadn't the personnel to field a squad. Most of the players they had left had either failed their draft physical, or were too old to qualify for the service.

The Philadelphia Eagles had the same problem, and so they made a deal with the Steelers to combine teams for the 1943 season. The team became unofficially known as the Steagles and went 5-4-1, which was better than either team usually did on their own.

The next season the Steelers combined with the Chicago Cardinals and went 0-10, leading to the less-charming nickname the Carpets, based on the Card-Pitt mashup.

Arthur J. Rooney, whom the players had come to affectionately refer to as "The Chief", endured a lot of heartache during those early years. But even the bad times can't last forever.

The Chief's world would change in 1969, when he hired a new head coach named Chuck Noll.

Best Seasons

  • 1942: 7-4, Did not make playoffs
  • 1947: 8-4, Lost NFL Divisional Playoff vs. Philadelphia Eagles
  • 1958: 7-4-1, Did not make playoffs
  • 1962: 9-5, Did not make playoffs
  • 1963: 7-4-3, Did not make playoffs

Best Players

  • Ernie Stautner: Defensive Tackle, 1950-1963
  • Bobby Layne: Quarterback, 1958-1962
  • Jack Butler: Defensive Back, 1951-1959
  • John Henry Johnson: Running Back, 1960-1965
  • Bill Dudley: Running Back, 1942, 1945-1946
  • Buddy Dial: Wide Receiver, 1959-1963
  • Elbie Nickel: End, 1947-1957

Arthur J. Rooney Statue at Heinz Field
Arthur J. Rooney Statue at Heinz Field | Source

Steelers' All-Time Rushing Leaders

Player
Years
Yards
Average YPC
Touchdowns
Franco Harris
1972-1983
11,950
4.1
91
Jerome Bettis
1996-2005
10,571
3.9
78
Willie Parker
2004-2009
5,378
4.3
24
Le'Veon Bell
2013-2017
5,336
4.3
35
John Henry Johnson
1960-1965
4,381
4.4
26

Chuck Noll Era: 1969-1991

Chuck Noll was a former NFL player for the Cleveland Browns who had been a member of two NFL championship teams. More importantly, he had served on the Baltimore Colts staff under Don Shula and had coached in the Super Bowl.

Still, there was no reason for expectations to be any higher for Noll than they were for any of the previous 13 coaches. The Steelers went 1-13 in Noll's first year, their worst record of all time.

Although they seemed like the same old Steelers during Noll's first season, changes were brewing. In his first NFL draft, Noll had chosen a future Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle from North Texas State named Joe Greene. Greene was nasty on the field, hated to lose, and quickly established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the league.

In 1970, Noll drafted Terry Bradshaw (the quarterback who would one day lead the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories) and Mel Blount (one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history).

The next year, Noll brought in Penn State linebacker Jack Ham, another future NFL Hall of Famer. Noll added fullback Franco Harris in 1972, a Penn State alum who would become the NFL's third all-time leading rusher before he retired.

But it was the legendary 1974 draft where Noll put the finishing touches on one of the most dominant NFL teams of all time and chose four eventual Hall of Famers in five draft rounds. In the first round he took USC wide receiver Lynn Swann. In the second, Kent State linebacker Jack Lambert. In the fourth it was Alabama A&M wide receiver John Stallworth, and, in the fifth, center Mike Webster from Wisconsin.

Chuck Noll rightfully gets credit for some of the smartest drafting decisions in NFL history, but he wasn't working alone. By 1969, Art Rooney's son Dan was serving as the team's General Manager and had an influence over Noll's choices. Dan Rooney, along with the Steelers' scouting team, was a key part of the Steelers' success in the '70s.

The concept of building a team through the draft paid off by Noll's fifth season. In 1974, the Steelers won their first Super Bowl, defeating the Minnesota Vikings and finally presented the Chief with the NFL championship he had been waiting for since 1933.

The Steelers repeated the feat in 1975, and again in 1978, and again in 1979. They only had four winning seasons and one playoff appearance to their credit in their previous 36 years of existence, but now the Pittsburgh Steelers had posted eight winning seasons and won four Super Bowl championships during Noll's first 11 years.

Noll had turned the Steelers into a dynasty, the team of the '70s. But the good times can't last forever. By the early '80s the team had begun to dismantle, with many of the players of the Super Bowl years shuffling off to retirement.

The Steelers remained competitive under Noll for most of the 1980s, but could not recapture the Super Bowl magic of the previous decade. Noll retired from coaching after the 1991 season with a record of 193-148-1.

Arthur J. Rooney, the Chief, had passed away in 1988 at the age of 87. He had lived to see his beloved Steelers bring four Super Bowl championships home to Pittsburgh and grow into one of the most famous professional sports teams in the world.

Best Seasons

  • 1972: 11-3, Lost AFC Championship vs. Miami Dolphins
  • 1974: 10-3-1, Won Super Bowl IX vs. Minnesota Vikings
  • 1975: 12-2, Won Super Bowl X vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • 1976: 10-4, Lost AFC Championship vs. Oakland Raiders
  • 1978: 14-2, Won Super Bowl XIII vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • 1979: 12-4, Won Super Bowl XIV vs. Los Angeles Rams
  • 1984: 9-7, Lost AFC Championship vs. Miami Dolphins

Best Players

  • Joe Greene: Defensive Tackle, 1969-1981
  • Terry Bradshaw: Quarterback, 1970-1983
  • Jack Lambert: Linebacker, 1974-1984
  • Franco Harris: Running Back, 1972-1983
  • Mel Blount: Cornerback, 1970-1983
  • Jack Ham: Linebacker, 1971-1982
  • Mike Webster: Center, 1974-1988
  • Lynn Swann: Wide Receiver, 1974-1982
  • John Stallworth: Wide Receiver, 1974-1987
  • Andy Russell: Linebacker, 1968-1975
  • Rocky Bleier: Running Back, 1968-1980
  • L.C.Greenwood: Defensive End, 1969-1981
  • Donnie Shell: Defensive Back, 1974-1987
  • Rod Woodson: Cornerback, 1987-1996
  • Carnell Lake: Defensive Back, 1989-1999
  • Louis Lipps: Wide Receiver, 1984-1991

Steelers' All-Time Passing Leaders

Player
Years
Yards
Cmp %
Touchdowns
Interceptions
Ben Roethlisberger
2004-Present
56,545
64.3
363
191
Terry Bradshaw
1970-1983
27,989
51.9
212
210
Kordell Stewart
1995-2002
13,328
56.5
70
72
Neil O'Donnell
1991-1995
12,867
57.1
68
39
Bubby Brister
1986-1992
10,104
52.2
51
57
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' All-Time Leading Passer
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' All-Time Leading Passer | Source

Bill Cowher Era: 1992-2006

It is an understatement to suggest that Bill Cowher had some big shoes to fill when he signed up for the head coaching position in Pittsburgh. His predecessor was a legend who had turned the Steelers from perennial losers to four-time champs.

Like Noll, Cowher was a former player for the Cleveland Browns as well as the Philadelphia Eagles. He had put in three years as defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, and at only 35 years of age the Rooneys had chosen him as the man to lead the Steelers into the '90s.

Cowher's Steelers got off to a fast start in 1992. They won the division with an 11-5 record, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Still, it was enough to convince Steeler Nation that this new guy just might know what he's doing.

By 1994, the Steelers had returned to the AFC Championship game, their first since 1984. Pittsburgh lost a heartbreaker to the San Diego Chargers, but came back again in 1995. This time, they defeated the Indianapolis Colts and punched their ticket for Super Bowl XXX. The Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, but Cowher had returned the Steelers to their former glory.

Cowher guided the Steelers to three more AFC Championships in 1997, 2001, and 2004, before finally winning the Super Bowl in 2005. Along the way, he had built a roster of some of the best Steelers of all time, including a few who rival the greats of the '70s.

In 1996, the Steelers traded for running back Jerome Bettis, who had worn out his welcome with the St. Louis Rams. The rumour was he had an attitude problem, but that never materialized in Pittsburgh. Instead, he went on to a Hall-of-Fame career where he finished as one of the NFL's all-time leading rushers. During the Super Bowl run of 2005, he became the ultimate teammate and mentor to running back Willie Parker, who had taken over his starting role.

In 1998, the Steelers drafted Hines Ward from the University of Georgia, a wide receiver who had also played tailback and quarterback. He went on to become the leading receiver in Steelers history.

In 2003, Pittsburgh drafted Troy Polamalu, a safety from USC. In 2004, they took a quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger from Miami University (of Ohio).

In 2004, they signed James Harrison, a player who had been cut three previous times by the Steelers and once by Ravens. Harrison became a starter in 2007 and won defensive player of the year in 2008.

But by 2006, Cowher had retired to spend time with his family. He is beloved by Steelers fans to this day, many of whom would love to see him return to the sidelines.

Best Seasons:

  • 1994: 12-4, Lost AFC Championship vs. San Diego Chargers
  • 1995: 11-5, Lost Super Bowl XXX vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • 1997: 11-5, Lost AFC Championship vs. Denver Broncos
  • 2001: 13-3, Lost AFC Championship vs. New England Patriots
  • 2004: 15-1, Lost AFC Championship vs. New England Patriots
  • 2005: 11-5, Won Super Bowl XL vs. Seattle Seahawks

Best Players:

  • Rod Woodson: Cornerback, 1987-1996
  • Carnell Lake: Defensive Back, 1989-1999
  • Greg Lloyd: Linebacker, 1988-1997
  • Troy Polamalu: Safety, 2003-2014
  • Jerome Bettis: Running Back, 1996-2005
  • Ben Roethlisberger: Quarterback, 2004-Present
  • Hines Ward: Wide Receiver, 1998-2011
  • Dermontti Dawson: Center, 1988-2000
  • Alan Faneca: Guard, 1998-2007
  • James Harrison: Linebacker, 2002-2012, 2014-2016
  • Antwaan Randle El: Wide Receiver, 2002-2005, 2010
  • Joey Porter: Linebacker, 1999-2006
  • Casey Hampton: Nose Tackle, 2001-2012
  • Kevin Greene: Linebacker, 1993-1995
  • Willie Parker: Running Back, 2004-2009
  • Heath Miller: Tight End, 2005-2015

Hines Ward is the Steelers' All-Time Leading Receiver
Hines Ward is the Steelers' All-Time Leading Receiver | Source

Steelers' All-Time Receiving Leaders

Player
Years
Receptions
Yards
Touchdowns
Hines Ward
1998-2011
1,000
12,083
85
Antonio Brown
2010-2018
837
11,207
74
Heath Miller
2005-2015
592
6,569
45
John Stallworth
1974-1987
537
8,723
63
Louis Lipps
1984-1991
358
6,018
39

Mike Tomlin Era: 2007-Present

Mike Tomlin came to the Steelers after serving as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He inherited a strong team that included quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Hines Ward, and safety Troy Polamalu.

Expectations were high, and Tomlin did not disappoint. In his first year, the Steelers posted a 10-6 record and won the AFC North. The following year, Tomlin took the team straight to the Super Bowl and defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23. In only his second year as head coach, Mike Tomlin had brought another Lombardi Trophy to the Steel City.

The Steelers returned to the Super Bowl in 2010, only to lose to the Green Bay Packers. Since then, Tomlin’s Steelers have returned to the AFC Championship game only once and lost to the New England Patriots.

In many ways, Mike Tomlin’s coaching career has been marked by extremes. He has never had a losing season, and his winning percentage is best among any coach in Steelers history. On the other hand, under Tomlin, the Steelers have consistently underperformed in the biggest games.

It hasn’t helped that some of Tomlin's players have brought unwanted drama to a franchise that has historically done a great job of avoiding it. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell held out for a better contract in 2018, refusing to play under the Franchise Tag and leaving the team guessing each week when or if he would return. He eventually missed the whole season, costing himself over $14 million.

The behaviors of wide receiver Antonio Brown were a recurring problem, as well. In 2016, he broadcast footage of the team’s locker room on Facebook, a violation of NFL rules. In 2017, he threw a tantrum on the Steelers’ sideline when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t throw him the ball. In 2018, the All-Pro receiver skipped practices without permission, leading to Tomlin benching him for a game.

Among Steelers fans and sports pundits, suspicions persisted that Tomlin had lost the locker room and had not done enough to stop toxic behavior from impacting the team’s play on the field. Brown and Bell both departed Pittsburgh following the 2018 season.

In many ways, the 2019 season seems like a watershed moment in Steelers history. The #FireTomlin hashtag trends on Twitter whenever the Steelers lose, and some fans would love to see a shakeup in the coaching ranks. But there is no denying that Mike Tomlin is a proven winner who is dedicated to Steeler football, and it is hard to imagine who would replace him.

Best Seasons

  • 2008: 12-4, Won Super Bowl XLIII vs. Arizona Cardinals
  • 2010: 12-4, Lost Super Bowl XLV vs. Green Bay Packers
  • 2015: 10-6, Lost Divisional Playoff vs. Denver Broncos
  • 2016: 11-5, Lost AFC Championship vs. New England Patriots
  • 2017: 13-3, Lost Divisional Playoff vs.Jacksonville Jaguars

Best Players

  • Ben Roethlisberger: Quarterback, 2004-Present
  • Troy Polamalu: Safety, 2003-2014
  • Hines Ward: Wide Receiver, 1998-2011
  • Antonio Brown: Wide Receiver, 2010-2018
  • Le'veon Bell: Running Back, 2013-2017
  • James Harrison: Linebacker, 2002-2012, 2014-2016
  • Maurkice Pouncey: Center, 2010-Present
  • Casey Hampton: Nose Tackle, 2001-2012
  • David DeCastro: Guard, 2012-Present
  • Willie Parker: Running Back, 2004-2009
  • Heath Miller: Tight End, 2005-2015
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster: Wide Receiver, 2017-Present
  • T.J. Watt: Linebacker, 2017-Present

Steelers' All-Time Scoring Leaders

Player
Years
Points
Field Goals
Extra Points
Rushing Touchdowns
Receiving Touchdowns
Gary Anderson
1982-1994
1,343
309
416
0
0
Jeff Reed
2002-2010
919
204
307
0
0
Roy Gerela
1971-1978
731
146
293
0
0
Franco Harris
1972-1983
600
0
0
91
9
Sean Suisham
2010-2014
545
124
173
0
0

Pittsburgh Steelers Stadium History

Here is a quick look at the stadiums the Steelers have called home over the years:

Heinz Field

Heinz Field is the current home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is named after an iconic Pittsburgh business, the H.J. Heinz Company. Yes, the people who make the ketchup. While Heinz Field is designed as a football stadium, it also hosts other sporting events and even rock concerts.

  • Years of Operation: 2001-Present
  • Seating Capacity: 68,400
  • Surface: Natural grass
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Pitt Panthers (NCAA football)
  • Status: Currently in operation

Three Rivers Stadium

Three Rivers Stadium was a multi-purpose facility designed for both football and baseball, as well as other uses. Many such stadiums were built around the same time, and most featured artificial turf. The stadium got its name from the confluence of rivers that occurs at Pittsburgh, where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio River.

  • Years of Operation: 1970-2000
  • Seating Capacity: 59,600
  • Surface: Tartan Turf/Astro Turf
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB), Pitt Panthers (2000 season)
  • Status: Demolished in 2001

Pitt Stadium

Pitt Stadium was home of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team and other athletic programs. The Steelers used the stadium sporadically from 1958 to 1963, and full-time from 1964-1969.

  • Years of Operation: 1925-1999
  • Seating Capacity: 69,400
  • Surface: Natural grass (1925-1969), artificial turf (1970-1999)
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1958-1969*), Pitt Panthers, Carnegie Tech Tartans (1929-1943)
  • Status: Demolished in 1999

Forbes Field

Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball and the Pitt Panthers football team. When Art Rooney founded the Steelers (then the Pirates) in 1933, they played their home games at Forbes. The Steelers played at Forbes Field from 1933-1958 and then split their time between Forbes and Pitt Stadium until 1970.

  • Years of Operation: 1909-1970
  • Seating Capacity: 41,000
  • Surface: Natural grass
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1933-1963*), Pittsburgh Pirates (1909-1970), Pitt Panthers (1909-1924)
  • Status: Demolished in 1971

*From 1958-1963, the Steelers split time between Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium.

Heinz Field, Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers Since 2001
Heinz Field, Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers Since 2001 | Source

Steelers Super Bowl Appearances

Super Bowl
Date
Opponent
Outcome
Score
IX
January 12, 1975
Minnesota Vikings
W
16-6
X
January 18, 1976
Dallas Cowboys
W
21-17
XIII
January 21, 1979
Dallas Cowboys
W
35-31
XIV
January 20, 1980
Los Angeles Rams
W
31-19
XXX
January 28, 1996
Dallas Cowboys
L
17-27
XL
February 5, 2006
Seattle Seahawks
W
21-10
XLIII
February 1, 2009
Arizona Cardinals
W
27-23
XLV
February 6, 2011
Green Bay Packers
L
25-31

Pittsburgh Steelers Retired Numbers

The Steelers rarely retire jersey numbers. In fact, only two players in Steelers history have had their numbers officially retired by the team:

Number
Player
Position
Years
70
Ernie Stautner
Defensive Tackle
1950-1963
75
Joe Greene
Defensive Tackle
1969-1981

However, there is a long list of numbers the Steelers do not issue. Though their status with the Steelers is uncertain, in the eyes of fans, it is obvious that these jerseys are "unofficially" retired. It is unlikely we will see any player wearing them again.

Steelers List of Unofficially Retired Numbers

Number
Player
Position
Years
1
Gary Anderson
Kicker
1982-1994
12
Terry Bradshaw
Quarterback
1970-1983
32
Franco Harris
Running Back
1972-1983
36
Jerome Bettis
Running Back
1996-2005
43
Troy Polamalu
Safety
2003-2014
47
Mel Blount
Cornerback
1970-1983
52
Mike Webster
Center
1974-1988
58
Jack Lambert
Linebacker
1974-1984
59
Jack Ham
Linebacker
1971-1982
63
Dermontti Dawson
Center
1988-2000
86
Hines Ward
Wide Receiver
1998-2011

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the Steelers and find the answers to many frequently asked questions. If have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to ask in the comments section!

Who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Arthur J. Rooney (a Pittsburgh athlete and businessman) founded the Steelers in 1933 when he purchased an NFL franchise for $2,500. He already owned a semi-pro football team and had the personnel in place to start a new NFL team.

Rooney passed away in 1988. Years earlier, he had handed his role as Team President to his son, Dan, who in turn passed it to current Team President Art Rooney II in 2002. While the Steelers have other investors today, the Rooney family has always maintained majority ownership and control of the franchise.

How did the Steelers get their name?

Early NFL football teams often took on the names and colors of their city’s Major League Baseball team. And so, the Steelers were first called the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rooney changed the name to Steelers in 1940 in hopes of establishing a new identity for the team and honoring the region's steel-producing history. They kept the colors black and gold, which today represent all three of Pittsburgh’s major pro sports teams.

What is the history behind the Steelers logo?

The Steelers logo is based on the Steelmark, which was created by U.S. Steel and is owned by the American Iron and Steel Institute. The Steelers wore the Steelmark on one side of their helmets for the 1962 season and went 9-5, their best season in team history to that point. Hoping to hold onto that good luck, the Steelers kept the logo and requested permission to change the text from "Steel" to "Steelers".

How many times have the Steelers made the playoffs?

The Steelers have made the NFL playoffs 31 times since their first year of operation in 1933. However, from the years 1933 to 1972, they only made the playoffs once (1947) and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The rest of those playoff appearances have been in the years since 1972. Now, they have a playoffs record of 36-24 and have won eight AFC Championships and six Super Bowls.

Which Super Bowls have the Steelers competed in?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have appeared in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV, XXX, XL, XLIII, and XLV.

Who are the Steelers’ major rivals?

The Steelers compete in the AFC North Division, which means their major rivals are the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers play each of these teams twice per year, not including any playoffs meetings.

  • Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are the Steelers' biggest rival in the NFL. They are both tough teams from old-school NFL towns, and they compete for first place in the AFC North almost every year. The Steelers currently lead the all-time series, 25-22.
  • Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns: A two-and-a-half-hour bus ride separates the cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, making the Steelers-Browns rivalry a little more personal than most. The two teams have clashed since 1950, and in 132 regular-season games, the Steelers hold a 73-58-1 lead.
  • Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have faced the Steelers in division competition since 1970, and the two teams have met in some bitterly fought contests. The Steelers have the lead in 97 regular-season games by a score of 63-35.

Who is the best player In Steelers’ history?

Many fans and football experts regard Joe Greene as the greatest Steeler of all time. Greene was a dominant defensive tackle who played from 1969 to 1981. In his 13-year career, he was voted to the Pro Bowl 10 times and the All-Pro team four times. He won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969, and Defensive Player of the Year in 1972 and 1974.

The Steelers won four Super Bowls, largely due to Greene and the Steel Curtain Defense. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Steelers made him only the second player in team history whose jersey they officially retired in 2014.

What is the Steel Curtain?

Pittsburgh's defense earned the nickname "The Steel Curtain" in the 1970s as a play on words that emphasized their dominance. This was the time of the Cold War, and events in the USSR were said to occur behind the "Iron Curtain," which was impenetrable for westerners. Since the Steelers defense was often impenetrable for opponents, and Pittsburgh is known for steel production, the moniker seemed a good fit.

What is the Terrible Towel?

The Terrible Towel is literally a towel that Steelers fans wave at games to rally the team. While the markings have changed over the years, official versions have always featured the logo “Terrible Towel” on one side. Most versions are Steelers gold in color, but some are black. Modern Terrible Towels include the phrase “Myron Cope’s Official Terrible Towel.”

Myron Cope was a radio announcer and the voice of the Steelers from 1970 to 2005. Back in 1975, he encouraged fans to bring gold or black towels to a playoff game to help rally the team. He called them Terrible Towels, and the idea was a big hit. In 1978, the Towel was mass produced with premade logos and sold in Gimbels department store, as the store had grown tired of selling only one hand towel and breaking up sets of gold towels.

Terrible Towels Fly at Heinz Field
Terrible Towels Fly at Heinz Field | Source

What is Steeler Nation?

Steelers fans worldwide are collectively referred to as Steeler Nation (or Steelers Nation). There is no official governing body, and the only thing required of members is to support the Steelers. In fact, Steeler Nation supports the Steelers so well that the fanbase has become renowned for their presence at Pittsburgh's away games. At most opponents' stadiums, it is easy to spot black and gold in the stands and Terrible Towels flying proudly when the Steelers take the field.

Where do the Steelers hold training camp?

Since 1966, the Steelers have held training camp at Saint Vincent College in LaTrobe, Pennsylvania. On campus stands a residence hall named after Arthur J. Rooney, which the Steelers use during camp.

What is the mascot for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

The Steelers’ mascot is Steely McBeam! Steely is a hard-working steel man who wears a Steelers hard hat, flannel shirt, and black-and-gold Steelers overalls. If his squared, stubbled jaw doesn’t convince you of his toughness, the fact that he attends games whilst carrying a steel beam on his shoulder ought to.

Steely has earned mixed reactions from Steeler Nation since his arrival in 2007.

Do the Steelers have cheerleaders?

Today, the Steelers are one of a handful of NFL teams that do not have official cheerleaders, but that wasn’t always so. From 1961 to 1969, the Pittsburgh Steelerettes graced the sidelines of Steelers games. The ladies hailed from nearby Robert Morris Junior College, a school without a football team. But by 1970, interest in the cheerleading squad had waned, and the Steelers disbanded them.

Steelers Players in the NFL Hall of Fame

Name
Year Inducted
Position
Year With Steelers
John McNally
1963
Running Back
1934, 1937-1938
Cal Hubbard
1963
Tackle, End, Guard, Defensive Line
1936
Bill Dudley*
1966
Halfback
1942, 1945-1946
Walt Kiesling
1966
Guard/Tackle
1937-1938
Bobby Layne*
1967
Quarterback
1958-1962
Marion Motley
1968
Running Back
1955
Ernie Stautner*
1969
Defensive Tackle
1950-1963
Joe Greene*
1987
Defensive Tackle
1961-1981
John Henry Johnson*
1987
Running Back
1960-1965
Len Dawson
1987
Quarterback
1957-1959
Jack Ham*
1988
Linebacker
1971-1982
Mel Blount*
1989
Cornerback
1970-1983
Terry Bradshaw*
1989
Quarterback
1970-1983
Franco Harris*
1990
Running Back
1972-1983
Jack Lambert*
1990
Linebacker
1974-1984
Mike Webster*
1997
Center
1974-1988
Lynn Swann*
2001
Wide Receiver
1974-1982
John Stallworth*
2002
Wide Receiver
1974-1987
Rod Woodson*
2009
Cornerback
1987-1996
Jack Butler*
2012
Defensive Back
1951-1959
Dermontti Dawson*
2012
Center
1988-2000
Kevin Greene
2016
Linebacker
1993-1995
Jerome Bettis*
2017
Running Back
1996-2005
* Primary inductees, meaning players who made all or most of their significant contributions to pro football while with the Steelers.

The Future of the Steelers

Every football franchise goes through good times and bad. As a fan, it is hard to remember how bad things can be when your team is winning. And vice versa.

Thanks to free agency, salary caps, and the parity the NFL alleges the system should achieve, we should expect that any team has a chance to rise to Super Bowl greatness. But it only takes a quick look around the League to realize that this isn't so.

What makes a team like the New England Patriots so dominant, year after year? Why do teams like the Browns struggle so much?

There is something else to it—some way of management, or coaching, or understanding people—that leads a franchise to greatness. This the Steelers lacked during their first four decades of existence. Then, in the 1970s, they found the magic formula and have been contenders ever since.

Steeler Nation has been spoiled over the years, but it is important to remember the history that has led us to this point. Be grateful for every winning season and soak in every Super Bowl as though it could be the last. As the Chief might tell us if he were alive today, fortunes in the NFL can change with the wind.

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