Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jim Souhan: Crosby has Lemaire searching for superlatives

The Penguins phenom came back to Minnesota and had the Wild coach wishing there were two of him ... one in a home uniform.

By Jim Souhan, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Last update: October 31, 2007 – 12:01 AM

Pittsburgh's Sindey Crosby and the Wild's Wes Walz battled for control of the puck in the first period Tuesday night.

Jacques Lemaire is as masterful with understatement as he is with the neutral-zone trap.

With a French-Canadian lilt that transforms Marian Gaborik into "Mary-Ann," and the ability to invert sentences like Yoda, the Wild coach offers insights and hockey philosophy in a soft-spoken tone that makes listeners lean forward in anticipation.

Tuesday morning, Lemaire raved about Penguins phenom and Shattuck-St. Mary's product Sidney Crosby. Tuesday night, Lemaire watched Crosby become the third opponent ever to score four points at Xcel Energy Center, in Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory.

Lemaire praised Wes Walz's checking line for its defense on Crosby -- even though Crosby's line produced nine points.

The performance left Lemaire feeling covetous. "I'd love to have one on our club," he said of Crosby, "if they make any more."

Crosby's first two points were the product of scorer's luck -- being in position to benefit from a fortuitous bounce to teammate Evgeni Malkin. His next two points were the product of a scorer's skill -- putting a power-play pass onto the tape of Petr Sykora in the slot, and putting on a burst of speed to create a breakaway goal.

After the game, Crosby, who played in front of high school coach Tom Ward and a few friends, said he and Malkin, his Russian linemate and fellow phenom, are learning to play together.

Lemaire would probably appreciate the understatement. "We're still trying to communicate a little better," Crosby said. "I think once we do that, we'll improve. But hockey is the universal language sometimes."

Crosby is as fluent as he is fluid. "I think he handles himself probably the best I've seen," Lemaire said. "The best, for sure, as a kid, 18, 19, 20 years old."

Lemaire played on legendary teams. He has been employed by teams that have won 11 Stanley Cups. He is uninterested in hype, as the NHL tries to market Crosby, with good reason, as the next Gretzky or Lemieux.

Still, Lemaire raved. "He's among the top players, there's no doubt," Lemaire said. "And he will be the top player. I think he is right now, in the National Hockey League.

"It's hard to compare, because you look at his size, there were players of his size [in the past]. But work like he works, they will not."

This would have been a more entertaining and meaningful test had the Wild been at full strength. Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra and Niklas Backstrom are three of the four or five most important Wild players, and they were all out Tuesday because of apparently contagious groin injuries.

Without star power, the Wild tried to match up defensively with Crosby and Malkin, but discovered that the two scorers are strong on the puck and tough around the net.

Does someone of Lemaire's era compare to Crosby? "Probably, they have the same talent, but they were different," Lemaire said. "He's the perfect kid you want on your team. He's an example. He's young and he's got, it seems, the experience to be a leader on his team because of his work ethic.

"I can't compare him to any of the players I've seen in the past."

Was he aware of Crosby when he played at Shattuck-St. Mary's? "I heard his name," Lemaire said. "But I had to see it."

Thanks to the silliness of NHL scheduling, Crosby had to wait three seasons into his NHL career to make his return to Minnesota, and who knows when he'll return?

Tuesday, at least, Lemaire and Minnesota's hockey fans got an eyeful of Sid the Kid.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ward rates with best for Steelers

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward dives for the pylon to set up a second-quarter touchdown against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, Oct. 28, 2007.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward caught touchdown passes from the worst and the best of Steelers quarterbacks, from Kent Graham to Ben Roethlisberger. He caught passes from six starters, not counting his most important, from fellow receiver Antwaan Randle El in Super Bowl XL.

Three more touchdown receptions and 445 more yards and he will have almost every team receiving record worth holding. That's not bad on a franchise that boasts Lynn Swann and John Stallworth as alumni.

Those two Pro Football Hall of Fame receivers will be on hand Monday night when the Steelers celebrate their all-time 75th anniversary team and play the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. They all will get to watch the third receiver on that 75th anniversary team, Hines Ward.

"We have Baltimore coming to town and there's no love lost there," Ward said. "It's a divisional game, it's going to be a special night, Monday night, the 75th anniversary. We have a bunch of guys back, we're going to wear our throwback uniforms. What better way to go than beat up on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night?"

Few thrive off that kind of competition the way Ward does. He would have fit right in with Swann and Stallworth, who played at their best on the big stages.

Ward has surpassed all of Swann's statistics and some of Stallworth's and is closing in on a few others. His 61 touchdown catches are two from Stallworth's record of 63. His 8,279 yards receiving are 444 from Stallworth's record of 8,723.

Ward already has career records for receptions at 672 and counting, and he's the only receiver to make four Pro Bowls for the Steelers. He owns the top three season records for receptions in team history, starting at 112. His 13 catches in one game is second to Courtney Hawkins' 14. His 1,329 yards in 2002 are third and his 12 touchdowns that same season are tied for first.

"I'm not one of those guys to really look at records as the season's going on, but to be up there right with Stallworth and be close to his record would be an all-time dream come true for me," Ward said.

He hopes to see Swann and Stallworth this weekend, starting Sunday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center when the Steelers honor their all-time team.

"I talk to those guys regularly. [Stallworth] wrote me a letter when I broke his receptions record. It's great. The two receivers who epitomize Steelers football -- Stallworth and Swann -- to have my name mentioned with those guys, I'm speechless.

"I'm working my tail off to be mentioned with those guys and now it's starting to get close to it, it's a dream come true."

Ward caught two more touchdown passes Sunday in the 24-13 victory in Cincinnati. On his first, he turned hotshot rookie cornerback Leon Hall inside out, faking a post and then running a corner that left him wide open.

He almost had a third when he caught a 9-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger that ended at the 1 with him trying to stretch the ball into the end zone. Willie Parker scored on the next play.

That Ward approaches Stallworth's touchdown record is not surprising because he has been money throughout his career anywhere near the goal line, spinning, diving and sometimes plowing his way through to the end zone.

"When we get in the red zone he's one of those guys who sniffs the end zone," Roethlisberger said. "You just know he's going to get in somehow, some way."

His two touchdowns against the Bengals marked the 12th game with multiple touchdown receptions in his 10-year career. (Against Philadelphia in 2004, he caught one scoring pass and ran for another touchdown.) He set his personal high last season in Atlanta when he caught three touchdown passes, tied for second most in a game in club history.

Ward does not catch as many passes as he did when he combined for 217 receptions in the 2002 and '03 seasons, but the MVP of Super Bowl XL has not visibly slowed down at age 31. Even though he missed two games with a sprained MCL in his knee, his 24 receptions are just two off Santonio Holmes' team lead.

"There's a lot of football left in me," Ward declared Sunday night.

Stallworth played through 1987 and then retired shortly before he turned 36.

Ward does not believe he has that much football left in him.

"I don't want to go that long," Ward said, breaking out in a smile. "I can't give numbers, but it won't be five [more] years, I'll tell you that."

Whenever it is, most of the Steelers receiving records will be his.

First published on October 30, 2007 at 12:00 am

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mark Madden: Gretzky had Nothing to do With Lemieux's Greatness

Beaver County Times

I'm not much for book burning, but "Gretzky to Lemieux: The Story of the 1987 Canada Cup" makes me want to re-explore some of the philosophies that made fascism great.

The book examines the "O Canada"-soundtracked notion that Wayne Gretzky anointed Mario Lemieux with greatness at the 1987 Canada Cup, greatness Lemieux would never have achieved without the Great One's blessing.

Like undercooked back bacon, the supposition makes me gag.

You know what helped Lemieux win? Good teammates. And good linemates, whether it was Gretzky in 1987, Mark Recchi in 1991 or Kevin Stevens in 1992.

But then, Gretzky won the Stanley Cup every year. Except all the years he didn't play on the most offensively-loaded team in hockey history. And he didn't even always win with them. Is it possible Lemieux actually made Gretzky better in '87 when Canada beat the Soviet Union in a deliciously epic three-game series? Heck, I'd even say it's probable.

What's a bigger accomplishment: 215 points playing between Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson, or 199 points playing between Rob Brown and Bob Errey?

I may disagree with those who call Gretzky hockey's best ever, but it's a difficult argument to win. He has statistics and durability on his side. But Lemieux's success is in no way attributable to Gretzky. Nothing tangible even remotely suggests that.

Mark Messier played for Canada in 1987. Maybe Messier showed Lemieux how to win. Maybe Messier showed Gretzky, too. After Gretzky and Messier parted ways, Messier was the one who kept winning. Until Gretzky joined Messier on the New York Rangers, that is. Then Messier stopped winning. Maybe Gretzky showed Messier how to lose.

How come Gretzky hasn't taught the Phoenix Coyotes how to win? He's their coach. They stink.

How come Canada didn't win the gold medal in men's hockey at the 2006 Winter Olympics? Gretzky picked the team. Didn't he teach it how to win? Canada might have had better luck had Gretzky picked Sidney Crosby instead of Todd Bertuzzi, Shane Doan or Kris Draper. How come Gretzky won't teach Crosby how to win? A better question: How did Gretzky and Canada turn a foolproof situation into a quarterfinal loss?

Canada has never really embraced Lemieux unless he's had a stylized maple leaf slashing across his sweater. He's French, and he's not Gretzky. He's accepted in Canada, but outside of Quebec, Lemieux isn't truly beloved.

I'm not arguing Gretzky's place in hockey history. I'm tired of disputing he's No. 1. Rank Gretzky, Lemieux and Bobby Orr in any order. I'm fine with that. But when you leave Lemieux out of the top three because Gordie Howe threw the occasional elbow and played to the point of senility, it's time for us to drop the gloves and go.

And when you act like skating together as linemates for a fraction of one international tournament enabled Gretzky to sprinkle Lemieux with magic dust, thus propelling No. 66 to a level darn near as good as No. 99, it's an insult to Lemieux and to every person who legitimately helped Lemieux's career flourish.

To suggest that Lemieux didn't learn to compete until he played with Gretzky implies that Lemieux had no heart. Lemieux, during countless crises both on and off the ice, showed that he was better when times were bad than Gretzky could ever dream of being.

Buy this book.

Don't read it. Burn it.

Mark Madden hosts a sports talk show 3-7 p.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1250.

©Beaver County Times Allegheny Times 2007

Arians puts play-calling criticism on ice in Bengals win

Monday, October 29, 2007
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Willie Parker rushed for 126 yards and one touchdown.CINCINNATI -- You know it was a tough, physical football game when the offensive coordinator needed a bag of ice for the plane ride home.

No, wise guy, Bruce Arians didn't apply it to his head, although, after the frightful beating he took last week from the local media and irate Steelers fans, it wouldn't have been surprising.

No one will question Arians' play-calling this morning, not after he and his offense rebounded from the loss in Denver to do their part and a whole lot more in a 24-13 licking of the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday at Paul Brown Stadium. Aside from a Ben Roethlisberger interception in the third quarter -- on a play when Big Ben was feeling frisky after having so much success out of the pocket -- the fellas couldn't have played much better.

It was enough to make Steelers coach Mike Tomlin do a rare bit of gloating at the very start of his postgame press briefing.

"I hope Willie [Parker] ran the ball enough in the first half for you guys."

Who says the coach doesn't read the papers and listen to the gab shows?

Arians was a little more humble. He has been around long enough to know his territory, to know he has the easiest job in town. Everybody's an offensive coordinator, right?

Especially after the fact.

"I don't beat myself up after a game," Arians said, fully aware that others lined up to do it after the 31-28 loss in Denver when the popular belief was that the Steelers didn't hand the pig enough to Parker.

"The best quote I ever heard is something [Hall of Famer] Otto Graham once said when I was in Cleveland and they brought him in to talk to [quarterbacks] Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb. 'Guys, I never threw a bad pass in my life. Even the ones that were intercepted would have hit my guy right in the chest.'

"That's always stuck with me. That's why I don't second-guess myself."

Arians fairly giggled. It's always easy to laugh at the criticism after a big win. In his position, the public perception is comically predictable. When the plays work and the Steelers win, he's a genius. When they don't work and the team loses, he's a bumpkin.

The truth is that Arians is neither.

"They're the ones who play," Arians said of Roethlisberger, who had a terrific game against the Bengals; Parker, who ran for 126 yards; Hines Ward, who had two touchdown catches among his eight grabs, and the offensive line, which did the grunt work to enable Big Ben, Fast Willie and the leader of the wideouts to do their things.

Arians is right. It always comes down to the players' execution. He can spend hours studying tape and looking for a defense's weaknesses so he can put his guys in the best position to succeed, but -- bottom line -- it still comes down to them.

That's why the heat Arians took after the Denver game was a bit over the top. Who knows if the Steelers would have won if they had run the ball more? All we know is Arians surely didn't call the plays thinking that Roethlisberger would throw two interceptions or that the offensive line would allow four sacks, one of which resulted in a Roethlisberger fumble that was returned for a touchdown. It's not like he took smart pills before the game yesterday. The players just did their jobs better to all but eliminate the Bengals from the AFC North Division race.

"I thought it actually started in the second half in Denver," Arians said. "You can't play better than we did -- three touchdowns in three possessions. We talked during the week about carrying that over into this game. I think they did a good job with that."

Roethlisberger was "awesome," to quote Tomlin, and "on fire," according to Arians, who added, "They did a lot of things on defense, but nothing fooled him."

Roethlisberger was a combined 8 for 9 for 125 yards on the Steelers' first two touchdown drives, ending each with a perfect throw to Ward. He finished with a nifty 109.5 passer rating that would have soared even higher if not for that interception when, under pressure, he tried to force a ball to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson on a third-and-7 play at the Bengals' 11 with the Steelers leading, 21-6.

"It was a stupid throw," Roethlisberger said. "It's just that you make so many plays outside the pocket that you start feeling really confident. I should have just thrown that ball away. Three points there is better than none."

Big Ben played so well otherwise that it didn't matter. His offensive line, which seemed to take those four sacks in Denver personally, helped. "They take pride in protecting me. I like that they take that pride," Roethlisberger said, grinning. Parker also helped in a big way, finding more running room after the early success with the passing game. He gained 83 of his yards after those first two touchdown drives.

All of it made for a pleasant trip home for Arians.

In case you're wondering, the ice was for his surgically replaced knees, which always scream at him after he spends three hours on the sideline.

The man won't need an ice bag for his head for a while.

At least not until next week, anyway.

First published on October 29, 2007 at 12:00 am
Ron Cook can be reached at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Steelers secondary quiets Bengals wideouts

By John Harris
Sunday, October 28, 2007

CINCINNATI: Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson was held scoreless and silent by the Steelers' secondary. That's some daily double.

The Steelers not only kept Johnson out of the end zone for the fifth consecutive game, they left him so frustrated that he departed the Bengals' locker room without speaking to reporters.

Who could blame Johnson following the Steelers' 24-13 win on Sunday? After all, a day without the self-proclaimed Ocho Cinco preening for the cameras occurs about as often as the Steelers losing to the Bengals in Cincinnati.

As for the the Steelers' current winning streak at Paul Brown Stadium, it's seven games -- and counting.

Give major props to the Steelers' defense. Despite playing without injured end Aaron Smith, free safety Ryan Clark and nickel cornerback Bryant McFadden, Cincinnati's explosive offense -- led by quarterback Carson Palmer, Johnson and fellow receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- posted relatively pedestrian numbers.

Palmer was 23 of 31 for 205 yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Houshmandzadeh in the fourth quarter. Houshmandzadeh caught seven balls for 81 yards and a score. Johnson had five catches for 51 yards.

Palmer targeted Johnson and Houshmandzadeh a combined 19 times. Palmer missed the target seven times, including four long passes that fell incomplete. Palmer's longest completion was a 28-yarder to Houshmandzadeh in the fourth quarter.

"We kept a good offense out of the end zone. We held them to 13 points, and we were able to get a win," coach Mike Tomlin said. "When somebody like that has firepower, they are going to get a play or two. They are going to drop back and throw the football, and they are going to make some plays.

"You can't get down on yourself, and you can't blink. Regardless of what happened, I felt like our guys did that."

Cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend and safeties Troy Polamalu and Anthony Smith followed defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's game plan to perfection. The Steelers kept Cincinnati's receivers in front of them and didn't give up big plays leading to points.

So when Johnson caught a 9-yard pass on Cincinnati's opening drive and began yapping, Townsend shrugged it off.

"It wasn't a big play," said Townsend, who had five tackles and defended one pass. "We want to cover everything, but you want to be there each time he catches it. It was their first (pass) of the game. You have to expect talking. We're going to be talking back."

"I'm a talker. That's what I do," said Taylor, who also finished with five tackles and defended one pass while maintaining his streak of not allowing a touchdown catch to Johnson since becoming a starter in 2005. "If I'm talking, I'm talking to myself or my teammates. You start woofing at me, I'm going to woof back at you. I take woofing to another level."

Houshmandzadeh said before the game that Taylor is one of the Steelers' biggest talkers and that he and Taylor had a running dialogue last season.

Yesterday, Houshmandzadeh gave the Steelers' secondary grudging respect.

"They're all right, nothing special," Houshmandzadeh said. "I'm not going to take credit away from them, but I'm not going to give them all the credit in the world, either. They play well within their defense. They don't make mental errors. They don't give up a lot of big plays. That's why they're successful."

Smith, who stood tall as the Steelers' last line of defense, recorded a team-high eight tackles and sounded like anything but a second-year safety making his second start of the season.

"It was a huge game for us. They've got the best of the best," Smith said. "To come out and contain them, we're even better."

John Harris is a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at

Steelers stay focused, play near-perfect game

By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, October 28, 2007

CINCINNATI: Cincinnati had more at stake, but the Steelers had much to prove.

The Bengals responded by kicking a field goal from the 2-yard line.

The Steelers responded by playing a complete game, if not a perfect one, in what became a dominating, 24-13 triumph.

For the Bengals, Sunday afternoon was about salvation.
They had snapped a four-game losing streak with a hope-inspiring, 38-31 victory over the Jets on Oct. 21. A subsequent win at home over the Steelers would move them to within a game of first place in what might yet turn out to be anybody's AFC North Division.

For the Steelers, yesterday was about redemption.

They had lost some face and a game, 31-28, on Oct. 21 in Denver. Another such setback would drop them to 0-3 on the road since Cleveland and further question their legitimacy as contenders, while keeping the door in the AFC North wide open.

A victory, conversely, and two more -- against Baltimore and Cleveland at home -- in the next two weeks would give the Steelers a chance to grab a stranglehold on the division prior to Thanksgiving.

The Bengals responded by playing and coaching tight, as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders.

The Steelers responded by playing football.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a self-proclaimed week-to-week guy, stayed true to his philosophy, and his team followed.

"Your ability to stay focused on what's in front of you is going to define you in terms of greatness," Tomlin said. "People get mentally weak when they look at the big picture. 'Oh, we lost one last week. Oh, if we lose this one, we've lost two in a row. Oh, we have a big game next week.'

"No. Boom. Right here. Stay focused where you are and appreciate the journey. If you do that and you do a good enough job of it, that'll take you where you want to go. That's our approach. That's been our approach. That's always going to be our approach.

"I could care less who we play in two weeks."

The Steelers wasted no time or energy on that, on what had gone wrong in Arizona and Denver or on how the division might shake down three weeks from now.

They formulated what Tomlin called a "no frills" approach for the Bengals, and they executed it well enough to send the largest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history (66,188) home early.

The Steelers wanted to feature fullback Dan Kreider's isolation blocking. When they lost Kreider early (ankle), they simply turned to Carey Davis.

The Steelers wanted Ben Roethlisberger to make plays, even the difficult ones the team has come to expect from him. Roethlisberger threw one ill-advised pick but was otherwise brilliant.

And the Steelers wanted to keep the Bengals' high-powered offense out of the end zone. Cincinnati managed one touchdown in six possessions.

Now comes Baltimore.

The Steelers will prepare for the Ravens by concentrating on the Ravens rather than what happened last season or what another victory might mean in the grand scheme of things.

They'll play to win because there's a game to be won.

The new guy might be onto something.

Mike Prisuta is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at or 412-320-7923.

From PG Archives: 200 offer final tribute to Steelers' Webster

A mournful huddle

Saturday, September 28, 2002

By Chuck Finder, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The sun muscled its way through a tropical storm front and opened a gaping hole in the clouds yesterday morning. It shined on the 200 or so folks who solemnly filed into the police-guarded back door of the Joseph M. Somma Funeral Home.

They came to bid farewell to Mike Webster, even in death such a center of attention that his memorial service packed two rooms and a hallway, that Terry Bradshaw attended his first Steelers funeral, that a few former grid opponents felt compelled to make their way to Robinson Township.

Three days after the Hall of Fame center died from complications following a heart attack, Michael Lewis Webster, 50, was remembered yesterday as warmly as if he were being enshrined again, five years and two months removed from his day in Canton, Ohio.

"Not easy to say goodbye to a friend," Bradshaw began, his voice wavering, his words halting. "Especially one I knew so well. Especially his butt."

Former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw embraces Pam Webster, widow of Mike Webster. Former defensive back Mel Blount, background was among many ex-Steelers who attended services yesterday. (John Beale, Post-Gazette)

Like Bradshaw, fellow Hall of Famers from the Steelers like Mel Blount, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, former coach Chuck Noll and owner Dan Rooney were in attendance.

So were such ex-Steelers from Webster's 1974-1988 days as J.T. Thomas, Dwayne Woodruff, Bryan Hinkle, Mike Merriweather, Gary Dunn, Emil Boures, Larry Brown, Steve Courson, Tunch Ilkin, Jon Kolb, John Rienstra, Craig Wolfley and Matt Bahr, along with plenty of other former teammates and team employees. Also present were owner Lamar Hunt and General Manager Carl Peterson, Webster's employers in his final two NFL seasons, 1989-90, with the Kansas City Chiefs.

In perhaps the greatest tribute to a football player, such opponents as former Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson and former New York Giants middle linebacker Harry Carson likewise came to the hilltop funeral home off Steubenville Pike.

"Going up against him, there's a certain respect level you establish," Carson said. "I respected him tremendously. Oh, yeah, he was very intimidating. There were guys who were bigger, but this guy was strong. He definitely hit you. A lot of athletes now, they talk; he just played."

Colin Webster, the elder son of Mike and Pam Webster's four children, looked over the two rooms and the hallway clogged with wide-shouldered bodies, then remarked: "It would have meant so much to my father to see everybody that's here right now."

The service began shortly after 10 a.m., when the family gathered around the open casket behind a closed partition. Fifteen minutes later, the partition opened and the casket was closed, and the Rev. Hollis Haff of New Community Church welcomed the crowd.

Al Seretti, a friend since 1996, began the service by saying, "I'm glad I didn't know Mike Webster as a football player. I knew him as a friend. Some people you know all your life. I've known him six years, and I didn't cry as hard when my brother died. Mike was like a brother to me."

After readings by Webster's daughters, Brooke and Hilary, came remembrances from sons Colin and Garrett, a senior offensive lineman at Moon High and his father's roommate in a Moon apartment the past couple of years. Garrett spoke of the proud grandfather bouncing Colin's two kids off his "bony knees" and the movie buff quoting his beloved John Wayne. He added, "He had some problems, but he overcame them all."

Swann next went to the lectern, amid the many flowers and photographs. He remembered rooming with Webster as rookies in 1974, discovering that a receiver from Southern California and a center from Wisconsin had plenty in common -- including Swann's being just 11 days older. He talked of a later pheasant-hunting trip when the burly lineman beat the graceful pass-catcher to the trigger twice, admonishing him: "Swanny, you have to learn to move efficiently."

Webster's 1997 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony

Bradshaw, though, elicited the most reaction.

This was his command performance after missing the funerals of Art Rooney Sr. in 1988 -- a decision Bradshaw came to regret -- and in 2001 of defensive lineman Steve Furness, the first member of the four-Super Bowl-winning Steelers to die.

"How many times, Moon [Mullins] and Sam [Davis], did we go to the line and Webby would go, 'No, Brad, no,'" Bradshaw recalled. "We didn't rehearse that. We didn't practice it. Webby saw something I definitely didn't see, and he was telling me not to run the play called.

"He loved it when people criticized me in the papers. And he was the first one to keep it going. 'They think you're stupid and dumb. I call all the plays,' he'd say with a laugh. Now I have to come clean and tell everybody: He was right. He did call all the plays.

"It's scary to know today it ends," Bradshaw concluded, pausing a moment to collect himself. "We should never allow the passing of a loved one to be the drawing card to keep our family together."

In his closing eulogy, the Rev. Haff spoke of how Webster never missed a service or Bible study, how his devotion touched teammates.

"Whatever happened after his career -- and we may never understand what happened -- there's a sense of comfort and hope where he stood with God."

In the end, his life was celebrated in a simple ceremony followed by a luncheon in a nearby fire hall. Just as he would've wanted it, family and friends maintained.

Chuck Finder can be reached at or 412-263-1724

New millennium brought Steelers Heinz Field and a Super Bowl win

But they kept the loyalty of fans by being a gritty, tough team

Sunday, October 28, 2007
By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Running back Jerome Bettis holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL last year.

It reads like a script for NFL Films -- the epic saga of a football team born in the Great Depression wearing the crest of Pittsburgh on its black and gold jerseys, ultimately becoming the city's trademark as it celebrates its diamond anniversary. For Steve Sabol, the keeper of the archives, the plot comes right out of history.

"The Steelers have had 16 different coaches in 75 years but only one game plan -- plant your knuckles in the dirt and go after the other guy," he said. "Men who take pride in their power. That's the Steelers. Even when they were losing, they were the epitome of what is so appealing about pro football. Nobody wanted to play them. Teams would win the games but wake up the next morning covered in welts. They had guys who could have come straight out of a Wes Craven movie."

It should be noted that this modern-day minstrel, whose father founded NFL Films 45 years ago, refers to his new offices in New Jersey as Hollywood on the Delaware, and that his Web site carries a Sports Illustrated description of his operation as "the most effective propaganda organ in the history of corporate America."

But who else but a storyteller with a sound track could sum up the suffering, soul-searching and swagger the Steelers inspire in their obsessed fan base?

"They embrace a tradition that goes back to the NFL's Jurassic Period with the same ownership in the same family," Mr. Sabol said. "Their struggle was epic, but the struggle is part of what makes them great. They're revered as an organization. They're everything that's great about pro football, including the eccentricities."

For their part, the Steelers have been like a cottage industry for NFL Films.

Other than Minnesota's Jim Marshall running the wrong way with a fumble, one of the biggest bloopers of all time is receiver Buddy Dial disappearing in a cloud of smoke from a toy cannon fired prematurely by a male cheerleading group known as the Ingots just as he crosses the goal line. The low-light reel is also enhanced by Jim (Cannonball) Butler getting hit on the rump by a snap from center as he sprints to get into punt formation, and by Dave Smith, in front of a Monday night audience, raising the ball over his head and losing it in anticipation of a spike.

On the other hand, Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception is the NFL's most replayed moment. And the highlights of the Super Bowl champions provided the action when NFL Films picked its greatest team of all time.

Third generation

In Green Bay, fans take their football so seriously that they own stock in the Packers. In Pittsburgh, public money has financed stadiums, but there is a unique emotional investment in the Steelers.

"In many ways, we always felt the team belonged to the people of Pittsburgh, and we held it in trust for them," writes Dan Rooney, 75, in an autobiography that dovetails with the 75th season.

He followed his father, Art Rooney Sr., in the Hall of Fame in 2000, joining Tim and Wellington Mara, of the New York Giants, as the only father/son owner combos enshrined.

It was his administrative decision to keep Bill Cowher over Tom Donahoe, a close friend who was director of football operations. It was he who informed Roger Goodell that he would succeed Paul Tagliabue as NFL commissioner.

And in 2003, he formally turned over the team presidency to Arthur J. Rooney II, his oldest son and the third generation of the family to run the team.

New home, same feel

At the end of the 2000 season, the Steelers did not so much leave Three Rivers Stadium as they packed up its memories and carried them 65 feet away to a new home for the new millennium. With tears and cheers, the transition had all the elements of an Irish wake.

In the final game at Three Rivers, the Redskins won the coin toss, and honorary captain Jack Lambert fired up Levon Kirkland and his teammates by yelping, "All right, defense. Let's kill. Let's go."

What followed was a 24-3 win, and tapping into the sentiment on a rainy afternoon, Franco Harris re-enacted the Immaculate Reception as the final ceremony. In 31 seasons, Three Rivers was home to 18 playoff teams and five AFC champions. The only losing record at home came in 1999.

The shell of the new stadium was already up when the old bowl was imploded. When it was noted the new home wasn't glitzy, Andy Beamon, of the Mascaro Construction Co., said: "We're not going to have dances over here. This is for smack-'em-in-the-mouth Steelers football."

Heinz Field was supposed to open with a game against the rival Cleveland Browns, but the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks shut down sporting events across the country. It was christened with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 7, the day the bombs first started falling in Afghanistan.

Bradshaw revisited

After a public mea culpa, Terry Bradshaw was named the honorary captain for a Monday night game against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 21, 2002, his first appearance in 19 years at a Steelers game. He put behind him the times he was booed, the time the fans cheered after he separated his shoulder and the time he skipped The Chief's funeral.

At halftime, the Rooneys presented him with a No. 12 jersey monogrammed with the initials of Arthur Joseph Rooney. The ovations lingered through the night.

"I woke up one morning, and I made a point to mend all my fences to come home," said Mr. Bradshaw. "I had to grow up. I was, you know, stupid. I was wrong."

Later that year, when he was voted into the Pittsburgh Hall of Fame as part of the Dapper Dan Dinner, he heard words of approval from his presenter and former coach.

"Terry is a very special person," said Chuck Noll. "He was a great leader and was able to take us to four Super Bowl championships. He's deserving of this honor."

That same year was the last in the Pittsburgh career of Kordell Stewart. He had once been reduced to tears when he was benched, and he was once doused with beer by a distraught fan.

His biggest transgression, it seems, was that he wasn't Terry Bradshaw. But neither was any other Steelers quarterback.

One for the ages

No matter how many playoff appearances the Steelers made, failures in big games spattered Bill Cowher's coaching record. There was a loss in a home AFC title game and a loss in the Super Bowl under Neil O'Donnell, two AFC title game losses at home under Mr. Stewart, and a defeat in the home AFC title game in Ben Roethlisberger's rookie year. The Steelers had set a franchise record with 15 wins, one more than the 1978 team, but that last loss to the New England Patriots resulted in perhaps the coldest walk home ever.

Then came the unprecedented run in 2005.

Four wins to end the season got the Steelers into the playoffs, and three playoff wins on the road got Jerome Bettis to the Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit, but not without the greatest defensive play in franchise history by a quarterback, otherwise known as The Tackle.

Following an inexplicable fumble by The Bus in the waning moments of a game in Indianapolis, Big Ben tripped up Nick Harper -- the cornerback whose wife had stabbed him the night before with a steak knife -- as he was about to sprint the length of the field for a touchdown.

In Detroit, Ford Field had the look and feel of a home game because so many fans made the five-hour turnpike pilgrimage and somehow scored tickets.

Super Bowl XL didn't win any points for artistic presentation, but the Steelers prevailed by making three big plays -- a 75-yard touchdown run by Willie Parker, a 43-yard touchdown pass from Antwaan Randle El following a reverse, and an interception by Ike Taylor.

As confetti rained down in the indoor stadium, the Steelers finally had a reason to make room in their trophy case. They joined the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys as teams with five Lombardi Trophies, and a new generation of fans exulted in a championship that was one for the new ages. Hines Ward, who began the season as a holdout, earned a spot next to Lynn Swann in the record books by being named most valuable player.

To their credit, not a single Seattle player made an excuse after the game.

"The bottom line is that their team didn't make the mistakes we made," said defensive end Bryce Fisher. "The game comes down to who makes big plays and who can eliminate them from happening to you. We didn't do either."

But back home in Seattle, coach Mike Holmgren fermented the sour grapes by saying it was tough enough to beat the Steelers without having to beat the referees too. Twenty months later, prior to a 21-0 loss at Heinz Field, he conceded: "Pittsburgh won. It's time to move on."

And how did linebacker James Farrior respond when some critic says every close call went against the Seahawks, that the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl also had the lowest quarterback rating or that The Bus may have retired with a ring but he wasn't a factor in the game?

"I show them my ring," he said.

Commitment for life

Page one news was made earlier this year when a Scarborough Sports Marketing survey showed the Steelers, by far, have the NFL's largest base of female fans. That came as no surprise to the women followers who proudly call themselves Steelerellas, or to Margaret O'Donnell Carr, the only woman among 20 other winners to submit the winning entry when the team became the Steelers in 1940.

Mrs. Carr, 91, won a pair of season tickets back then for clipping out a newspaper coupon and sending in her entry. In her Brighton Heights residence, she has a framed photograph of her and other winners signed by The Chief.

"I may not be the fan I used to be, but I still follow them," said Mrs. Carr, who still drives and travels around the country to visit her five sons and 12 grandchildren. (One son, Army Lt. Dennis Carr, was a Green Beret killed in Vietnam saving a comrade in 1963).

She remembers watching games in Forbes Field when it was so cold her brother ate peanuts, shells and all, and she attended the four Super Bowl games of the 1970s, including the one in Pasadena when Lynn Swann showed up at a party with ex-teammate O.J. Simpson.

"We had lots of good times. I still have them," Mrs. Carr said.

As an example of how the Steelers span generations, she said her son Joseph, who lives near Tampa, Fla., recently visited and bought a bunch of Steelers gear for his kids.

"He didn't want them to grow up as Tampa Bay fans," she smiled.

Greatest of the great

Q. How many Steelers fans does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Five. One to screw in the bulb, and four to talk about how great the teams were from the '70s.

It's impossible to settle how teams from different eras would fare against each other, and the Super Steelers need no validation for what they accomplished. But then came the computer.

In 1989, NFL Films conceived of a fantasy tournament called The Dream Bowl, the culmination of an eight-week series on ESPN of the greatest teams of all-time. Statistics were entered, and input was added by a panel of players, coaches and experts.

The result? The 1978 Steelers came out on top over the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins in a simulated game.

"Don Shula got so upset that he called and asked how a computer could beat them when no team ever did," said Mr. Sabol. "A number of Dolphins players were so ticked off they refused to do interviews with NFL Films for 10 years."

Then in a sequel, the Steelers beat the 1989 49ers in Dream Bowl II. And in something called the Match-up of the Millennium, the Steelers of the '70s prevailed over the 49ers of the '80s.

"We're not supposed to take sides," Mr. Sabol said. "But in their heyday, with their defense, they were, to me, the best. They're still the best. The fan in me always comes out. To heck with it. I still consider them the best."

And for whatever it's worth, Steve Olson, of SportSims LLC, in Defiance, Ohio, recently pitted all of the Super Bowl champions against each other in a computer game. The 1978 Steelers topped the 1985 Bears.

Steeler Nation

When the Steelers visited the White House after their Super Bowl XL win, according to Jerome Bettis, the spot where the coach was supposed to stand was spelled "Cower," which put the veteran coach alongside Chuck "Knoll" in the ranks of the underappreciated.

After the quarterback's motorcycle accident and an emergency appendectomy, the jut went out of The Jaw in the last year of Cowher Power. In 15 season, his teams were 161-99-1 in all games with 10 playoff berths and eight division titles. Seven of his assistants got head coaching jobs.

At his farewell news conference in January, Mr. Cowher addressed the fans: "You can take the people out of Pittsburgh, but you can't take the Pittsburgh out of its people. I'm one of you. Yinz know what I mean."

Later that month, Mike Tomlin became the 16th coach of a franchise that prizes stability and continuity. A win in his first game gave the Steelers their first edge in an all-time series with the Browns that began in 1950. Now there's a T-shirt out that says "Terrible Tomlin," and only in Pittsburgh could that be high praise.

Jon Kolb, an introspective offensive lineman with four Super Bowl rings, once tried to define what the Pittsburgh Steelers are.

Does the identity come from the players? No, from Mose Kelsch to Bullet Bill Dudley and Ray (The Old Ranger) Mansfield, who died facing the setting sun while hiking the Grand Canyon, they all move on eventually. The coach? Nope, coaches change too. The stadium? It matters not where the Steelers play but that they play. Even the signature industry they're named after is essentially gone.

"I decided that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the people who fill the stadium and cheer this team," Mr. Kolb said. "That's the one constant. That doesn't change."

So there it is. All this time, that polyglot assemblage linked together throughout the globe as The Nation thought it was watching the Stillers. It turns out, the fans have been looking inside themselves.

They were born at night, but it wasn't last night.

Na zdravie.

First published on October 28, 2007 at 12:00 am
Robert Dvorchak can be reached at

Ed Bouchette: Questions Fan's All-Time Team Choices

Ed Bouchette on the Steelers: As with any popular vote, the Steelers' all-time team left plenty of room for scratching of the head and raising of the brow.

A weekly look inside the team & the questions

Sunday, October 28, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Steelers fans did a good job, for the most part, when they picked the all-time team. They did a terrible job at a few positions.

At linebacker, they chose Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Andy Russell. So, too, they chose Greg Lloyd, who brought a Lambert-like attitude to the position. But Joey Porter and not Levon Kirkland?

Kirkland was the best linebacker in the NFL for several seasons. He would have been the game's MVP had the Steelers won Super Bowl XX. He never came off the field, playing inside linebacker in the base defense and middle linebacker in their dime.

You also can make a case for Mike Merriweather over Porter. Merriweather made three consecutive Pro Bowls on bad teams in the 1980s. He still holds the club record with 15 sacks in the 1987 season.

They left off their all-time sack leader, linebacker Jason Gildon, who had 77 -- 17 more than Porter, who played the primary rush position on defense at right outside linebacker. Bryan Hinkle, who played 12 seasons through 1993, was probably their most underrated linebacker. He might be in the Hall of Fame had he played in the 1970s.

Porter certainly was one of the team's better linebackers, but there were several better than him who did not make it on the all-time team.

Bill Dudley

The same case can be made at running back, where Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis and Rocky Bleier made it. No offense to Bleier, who probably got more out of his talent and had more drive than most any of their players over 75 seasons, but two Hall of Fame backs deserved to be on it over him.

Bullet Bill Dudley led the NFL twice in rushing in 1942 and 1946 and no Steelers player has done so since. John Henry Johnson led the team in rushing four consecutive years, including two of more than 1,000 yards. They were great enough for the Hall of Fame but not for the Steelers all-time team.

Bleier ranked seventh among rushers and while he also was a good blocker, Frank Pollard, Dick Hoak and Barry Foster all outran him.

And, how can you have a team with 33 players and not have more than one guard? The last time I checked, they've been playing with two guards all 75 seasons. Alan Faneca was a good choice, but a second guard could not be found? Here are two others: Carlton Haselrig, one of the NFL's better guards in the early 1990s who made one Pro Bowl, or Sam Davis from the 1970s.

Picking Bobby Walden as the team's all-time punter shows how stuck fans can be on the 1970s. Or how soon they forget. Coach Chuck Noll refused to allow Walden to punt late in the game in Super Bowl X because he feared it being blocked. He's seventh on the team's career list for punters by average, behind Bobby Joe Green, Pat Brady, Josh Miller, Chris Gardocki, Mark Royals and Harry Newsome. Soon, he'll find himself behind Daniel Sepulveda as well. It may have been the fans' worst choice.

Some could argue for Eric Green, Mark Bruener or still-young Heath Miller at tight end ahead of Bennie Cunningham, but the choice of Cunningham as the second tight end to Elbie Nickel was not a bad one.

It does say something, though, that an all-time Steelers team has two tight ends and just one quarterback. Terry Bradshaw was such an overwhelming choice that apparently whoever finished second did not receive enough overall votes to make the club.

My second quarterback would have been Bobby Layne.

Since they included special teams members, a punter and kicker, they also should have picked a punt/kick returner. Then someone such as Louis Lipps could have made the team. Lipps' 656 yards in punt returns during the 1984 season are a club record and his 437 yards in 1985 rank seventh.

Finally, for the second time, the Steelers picked a team but not a coach. They did not have one for their Legends team either. It may be as obvious as picking a quarterback, but Chuck Noll should have had the honor of coaching this team.

Other than that, fans showed savvy in their choices and, other than Walden, picked good players even at the positions under dispute.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Polamalu indifferent about his selection to 75th anniversary team

Friday, October 26, 2007
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward wasn't about to downplay the significance of being selected to the Steelers' 75th anniversary team, not when he is lumped in the same group with Hall of Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.

Alan Faneca said being named one of six offensive linemen on a unit that includes Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson, two of the greatest centers in National Football League history, leaves him speechless.

Casey Hampton appreciated the honor of being placed alongside Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood as one of the team's all-time best defensive linemen, even if the voting was done by fans and not peers.

But, true to form, safety Troy Polamalu said he didn't quite understand what all the fuss is about, even though he is the youngest member to be named to the anniversary team.

"It's one of the biggest honors that anyone can be a part of, next to the Super Bowl," Ward said.

Ward, Faneca, Hampton and Polamalu were the only current Steelers named to the club's all-time team that was announced Wednesday as part of the 75th anniversary celebration. The only other active player to make the list of 33 players was former linebacker Joey Porter, who plays for the Miami Dolphins.

"There are guys who didn't make the team who helped just as much as we did," said Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who is the team's all-time leader in receptions (664) and trails only Stallworth in receiving yards (8,191). "Words can't describe all the hard work we put in. It feels good to be appreciated by the fans, by the Steelers nation, that they really respect the way we played."

Faneca was the only guard among the five offensive linemen selected to the team, joining centers Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson and tackles Tunch Ilkin, Jon Kolb and Larry Brown. A former No. 1 pick, only Webster (9) and Dawson (7) have been selected to more Pro Bowls among Steelers offensive linemen than Faneca (6).

"It leaves you speechless," Faneca said. "There's not really a whole lot that I can say that would express how you feel to be honored that way."

Hampton, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was among five defensive linemen selected, along with Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Stautner.

Asked what it would be like to play on the Steel Curtain defensive line that dominated the 1970s, Hampton said: "It would be fun. It's definitely a different era, but those guys really could play. They probably couldn't play inside now, but they could play defensive end. Guys are a lot bigger now than back then."

After a brief pause, Hampton added, "Joe Greene could play inside."

Porter, who was released after the 2006 season and signed by the Dolphins, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who had 60 sacks in eight seasons with the Steelers, fourth most in club history. He is in select company on the all-time team, joining Hall of Fame linebackers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham along with Andy Russell and Greg Lloyd.

Porter was selected over several other former linebackers who had Pro Bowl careers with the Steelers, including Mike Merriweather (3 Pro Bowl appearances), Kevin Greene (3), Jason Gildon (3) and Levon Kirkland (2).

Porter declined comment yesterday through a Dolphins spokesman, saying he wanted to keep his attention on his team's game against the New York Giants in London. But he told Steelers Digest: "It's definitely an honor. I've had a lot of achievements and [accomplished] a lot of goals, but, beside winning the Super Bowl, being voted on that team I definitely would have to say, as far as playing football, that would be my second-highest goal ever."

Then there was Polamalu, a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his first four seasons with the Steelers. At 26, he is the youngest member of the anniversary team, a player who was born in January 1980, 16 months after the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl in a six-year span.

But he appeared bemused that he was selected to a secondary that includes Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount, cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Carnell Lake.

"My wife doesn't even know about it," Polamalu said. "I don't know what it has to do with anything, quite honestly. It really doesn't have much to do with anything, but I don't want to disrespect anyone because I know people do care about things like this."

NOTES -- Free safety Ryan Clark (inflamed spleen) did not practice for the second day in a row and might not play against the Bengals. ... Bengals WR Chad Johnson (ankle) and RB Rudi Johnson (hamstring) did not practice for the second day in a row. ... The Nov. 18 game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., has been moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. to accommodate television, the NFL announced. The starting time is one of three switched that day by the league. The Dallas-Washington game has been moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. and the New York Giants game at Detroit has been switched from 4:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.

First published on October 26, 2007 at 12:00 am

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Steelers name best of their 75-year history

Steelers president Art Rooney II, Hall of Famer LC Greenwood, wide receiver Hines Ward and Steelers chairman Dan Rooney sat in the Great Hall at Heinz Field for the announcement of the 33-man all-time team, Oct. 24, 2007.

By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, October 25, 2007

L.C. Greenwood never envisioned a 75th season celebration when he was drafted by the Steelers out of Arkansas AM&N in the 10th round in 1969.

"I can remember we couldn't give away tickets," Greenwood said. "I mean, seriously, I tried to give somebody tickets and they said, 'No, I don't want to go to the game.'"

Almost 40 years and five Super Bowl championships later tickets are difficult to come by and the Steelers can't seem to stop celebrating their championship heritage.

Their latest self-tribute took place Wednesday afternoon at Heinz Field with the unveiling of the franchise's All-Time Team.

Greenwood, a defensive end from 1969-81, was one of 33 players selected through a vote of Steelers fans.

Results of the fan balloting were not made available by the Steelers.

"It's a heck of a turnaround over a number of years," Greenwood said. "To see it evolve like this is just tremendously great."

Greenwood was one of 15 players who earned four Super Bowl rings with the Steelers in the 1970s to be included on the All-Time Team, comprised of 33 players in recognition of the Steelers' inaugural season, 1933.

The team includes 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and 68 Super Bowl rings won with the Steelers.

Tight end Elbie Nickel (1947-57) was the most historic of the bunch.

Four current Steelers -- guard Alan Faneca, nose tackle Casey Hampton, strong safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Hines Ward -- were recognized.

"It's very overwhelming," Ward said. "There were a lot of great players that probably didn't make this team that helped contribute in many ways, especially on the Super Bowl teams in the 1970s.

"To have some current players, it's just a special feeling in our heart."

Mike Wagner, a safety on the four Super Bowl teams of the 1970s, was one such player overlooked by the fans.

"I think there are some guys that got left out," Greenwood said, declining to name names. "I can always say somebody got left out and then somebody's gonna say there's somebody on that shouldn't be on.

"It's a conversation piece."

Steelers president Art Rooney II acknowledged the subjective nature of the fan balloting.

"Sam Davis (guard, 1967-79) and Bryan Hinkle (linebacker, 1982-93) probably should be on it," Rooney II said.

"There will be more guys from this (current) team (worthy of eventual consideration). (Quarterback) Ben (Roethlisberger) will give Terry (Bradshaw) a run, hopefully, before it's all over. It'll be interesting."

Rooney's father Dan, the Steelers' chairman, noted Hall-of-Fame back Bill Dudley (1942, 1945-46) was included on the Steelers' Legends (pre-1970s) Team but left off the All-Time Team.

Another Hall-of-Fame running back, John Henry Johnson (1960-65), made the Legends Team but not the All-Time squad.

"We're not doing it to try to show off or anything like that," Dan Rooney said. "It's more from the standpoint of making everybody feel great about it."

The Steelers' All-Time Team will be honored Nov. 4 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and at the Steelers' Nov. 5 game against Baltimore.

"I think it really comes back to our fans and how much they enjoy Steelers football," Rooney II said. "The biggest part of it was to be able to bring back some memories."

The following is the team:

QB: Terry Bradshaw

RB: Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Jerome Bettis

TE: Bennie Cunningham, Elbie Nickel

WR: Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Hines Ward

OL: Larry Brown, Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca, Tunch Ilkin, Jon Kolb, Mike Webster

PK: Gary Anderson

DL: Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Casey Hampton, Ernie Stautner, Dwight White

LB: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, Andy Russell

DB: Mel Blount, Jack Butler, Carnell Lake, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, Rod Woodson

P: Bobby Walden

"We have had so many great players over the years, including before we won Super Bowls," Dan Rooney said in a statement. "The accomplishments of each of these players have played a key role in contributing to the long-standing tradition of Steelers football."

Here is a detailed breakdown of the players selected to the all-time team:

Terry Bradshaw: Quarterback (1970-83)

Winning championships is what distinguishes the great NFL quarterbacks, and that's why Terry Bradshaw was a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 1989. The Steelers won the right to pick Bradshaw first overall in the 1970 draft because they won a coin flip with the Chicago Bears. Actually, the Bears lost because their representative called heads and the coin came up tails. While calling his own plays, Bradshaw quarterbacked the Steelers to eight division titles and four Super Bowl championships; Bradshaw was voted the MVP of Super Bowls XIII and XIV, NFL Player of the Year in 1978, and he won team MVP honors in back-to-back seasons (1977-1978). In 19 career playoff games, Bradshaw threw 30 touchdown passes, and his record as a starting quarterback in conference championship games and Super Bowls was 8-2.

Jerome Bettis: Running Back (1996-05)

He might have been drafted into the NFL by the Los Angeles Rams, but Jerome Bettis was born to star for the Steelers. He ran the football with the type of power that energized the fans and his nimble feet allowed him to last longer and be more productive than any previous back his size. The wheels on The Bus were responsible for a lot of wins during his 10 seasons with the Steelers after arriving via a draft day trade in 1996. Bettis finished his Steelers' career with 10,571 rushing yards and 78 touchdowns, both second in team history behind Franco Harris. He also became the players' rallying point during the drive to Super Bowl XL in 2005, and Bettis was able to announce his retirement in his hometown while holding the Lombardi Trophy in his hands. He finished his career with 13,662 rushing yards to rank fifth on the NFL's all-time rushing list. A three-time team Steelers MVP, Bettis earned six trips to the Pro Bowl.

Rocky Bleier: Running Back (1968, 1970-80)

Football often is compared to war by the overly-dramatic. Rocky Bleier knows the difference. A 16th-round draft choice in 1968, Bleier also was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1969 and was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War. Bleier was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and then he began the arduous rehabilitation process on his foot that would enable him to return to professional football. Known primarily as a blocker for Franco Harris, Bleier finished with 3,855 yards rushing, including 1,036 in 1976. Bleier caught two touchdown passes in the playoffs, including an acrobatic one in Super Bowl XIII.

Franco Harris: Running Back (1972-83)

"We didn't win too much until he got here. And then we didn't lose very often after he did." That's what Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr. once said about Franco Harris, and that is the ultimate testament to someone who was the most productive running back in team history and one of the best big-game backs in NFL history. Harris is the Steelers' all-time leading rusher with 11,950 yards and their all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (91). Despite his star status, Harris also was the kind of player who was always hustling to the football, which put him in position for the Immaculate Reception. Harris was named Super Bowl IX MVP after rushing for a then-record 158 yards and a touchdown; in 19 playoff games, he rushed for 1,556 yards and 16 touchdowns to go along with 51 catches for 504 yards. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Bennie Cunningham: Tight End (1976-85)

When the NFL liberalized the rules in the late 1970s to benefit the passing attack, Bennie Cunningham was in the right place at the right time. Cunningham caught 202 passes for 2,879 yards with 20 touchdowns, and he earned two Super Bowl rings during his Steelers career. His best season was in 1981 when he finished with a career-high 41 receptions for 574 yards with three touchdowns.

Elbie Nickel: Tight End (1947-57)

It wasn't called tight end when he played it, but Elbie Nickel still played tight end better than anybody in Steelers' history. Nickel, drafted in the 15th round in 1947, finished his career with 329 receptions for 5,133 yards, both of which are fourth on the team's all-time lists. He also hauled in 37 career touchdowns, which is the fifth-highest total in team history. Nickel led the NFL in yards per catch with a 24.3 average in 1949, but his best season was in 1952 when he posted 55 receptions for 884 yards and nine touchdowns, all of which were Steelers' records at the time.

John Stallworth: Wide Receiver (1974-87)

It was a wet day when a bunch of scouts showed up at Alabama A&M to get a 40-yard dash time on John Stallworth. He ran poorly, but Steelers scout Bill Nunn faked an illness so as to stay behind and get another time for Stallworth, on a dry track. With all the other NFL teams having only that slow time for Stallworth, the Steelers were able to pick him in the fourth round of the 1974 draft. When he retired 14 seasons later, Stallworth had 537 catches for 8,723 yards, 25 100-yard games and 63 receiving touchdowns to rank No. 1 in team history at the time in each of those categories. He had 12 postseason touchdown catches and 17 consecutive postseason games with a reception. Stallworth set Super Bowl records for career average-per-catch (24.4 yards) and for single-game average (40.3), set in Super Bowl XIV. Stallworth was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Lynn Swann: Wide Receiver (1974-82)

During the 1970s, professional football became a game of big plays, and Lynn Swann was a perfect fit for that style. Swann was at his best in big games, and during his career the Steelers were in 16 playoff games, and in those Swann had 48 catches for 907 yards (18.9 average) and nine touchdowns. His touchdown catch gave the Steelers the lead for good in the 1974 AFC Championship Game; he was the MVP of Super Bowl X with four catches for 161 yards and a touchdown; and he had seven catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl XIII. By the time his playing career ended, his surname had become synonymous with acrobatic catches -- many receivers who executed those were said to be "Swann-like." A 2001 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Swann finished his career with 336 receptions and 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns.

Hines Ward: Wide Receiver (1998-Present)

He'll be the first to admit that he's not the biggest or the fastest wide receiver in the NFL, but even his peers admit Hines Ward is the toughest, most physical player at his position in the game today. A third-round selection in 1998 after a career as a "slash" at the University of Georgia, Ward saw the Steelers spend No. 1 picks on receivers in both 1999 and 2000. But Ward made himself into the team's top receiver, and as the 2007 season begins he is closing in on the few team records he doesn't already hold. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Ward is the team's all-time leader with 648 catches, and he needs 718 yards and six receiving touchdowns to pass John Stallworth for the top spots in those two categories. His 112 catches in 2002 is the team's single-season record, and he was voted MVP of Super Bowl XL.

Larry Brown: Offensive Tackle (1971-84)

It almost seems to be a commentary on what Chuck Noll thought of both positions. The move of Larry Brown from tight end to offensive tackle showed what attributes Noll valued from the guys who played both positions. He wanted tight ends who could block, and tackles who were athletic. Brown played 14 seasons here, the first seven at tight end and the last seven as a starting right tackle. Franco Harris ran for 1,000 yards in four of those seven seasons, and was 13 yards short in another. The play of the Steelers tackles (Brown and Jon Kolb) vs. the Cowboys defensive ends ("Too Tall" Jones and Harvey Martin) was a critical part of Pittsburgh's win over Dallas in Super Bowl XIII.

Dermontti Dawson: Center (1988-00)

It was 1993, and the Steelers were worried about their 1992 third-round draft pick. Joel Steed had been selected to be the anchor of the defensive line as the nose tackle in the 3-4, but he was struggling. He had troubles all through his rookie training camp, then throughout that season. He was inactive for the playoff game in 1992, and his second training camp wasn't getting off to a rousing start, either. Then the Steelers traveled to Barcelona, Spain, for an American Bowl game against the San Francisco 49ers. The trip included several days of combined practices, and in those Joel Steed started to look like a player. By the end of the week, he was handling 49ers veteran center Jesse Sapolu, and that's when the Steelers figured out Steed's problem: He had been going against Dermontti Dawson every day. After eight games at guard as a rookie in 1988, Dawson won the starting center job during the following training camp and played the position for 12 of his 13 years with the Steelers. Dawson combined Mike Webster's power with an uncommon athleticism for a center, and he was named to seven straight Pro Bowls from 1992-1998. Dawson played in 171 consecutive games, until he missed a combined 16 in1999-2000 with a severe hamstring injury.

Alan Faneca: Guard (1998-Present)

During the days leading up to the 1998 NFL Draft, Jimmy Johnson was surveying the pool of talent. Then the Dolphins coach, Johnson had much draft-day success when he built the Cowboys championship teams of the early 1990s. "The guy most ready to play in the NFL," Johnson told a reporter, "is that kid Faneca from LSU." The Steelers picked Alan Faneca in the first round of the 1998 draft, and he is in the midst of a career in which he ultimately will be judged one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history. Faneca is a five-time All-Pro, and he has played in six Pro Bowls, with five starts, in his first nine seasons. In 2003, Faneca exhibited uncommon versatility by playing nine games at left tackle when injuries ravaged the line.

Tunch Ilkin: Offensive Tackle (1980-92)

Tunch Ilkin always jokes that the title of the book chronicling his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers would be: "Too Late for the Super Bowls; Too Early for Free Agency." Drafted on the sixth round in 1980 as a center from Indiana State, Ilkin became a starting tackle who played both sides of the offensive line during his 13 years with the Steelers. Ilkin played in consecutive Pro Bowls -- 1989 and 1990 -- and also was an active member of the NFLPA when it negotiated the salary cap/free agency system still in place today. Reggie White finished with 198 career NFL sacks, but he never got one against Tunch Ilkin.

Jon Kolb: Offensive Tackle (1969-81)

Professional football games of that era were won and lost on the line of scrimmage, and when Chuck Noll was hired in 1969 he quickly realized the Steelers were lacking there, on both sides of the ball. He addressed it as soon as possible, which during the pre-free agency era meant the NFL Draft. Noll picked a North Texas State defensive lineman named Joe Greene on the first round and an Oklahoma State offensive lineman named Jon Kolb in the third. Two pieces of the puzzle were in place. One of the strongest players in the NFL during his playing days, Kolb started 177 games at left tackle over the course of his 13 years, including four Super Bowls. Kolb never was voted to a Pro Bowl, but he never was out-played in a big game either.

Mike Webster: Center (1974-88)

The Steelers had just won the 1974 AFC Championship Game, and offensive line coach Dan Radakovich was grading the film of a unit that contributed to the team's 224 yards rushing. "Not a bad job, Ray," Radakovich told starting center Ray Mansfield, "but don't forget I have that rookie, Mike Webster, waiting in the wings." A guard during his first season with the Steelers after being a fifth-round draft choice from Wisconsin in 1974, Webster didn't have to wait in those wings too long -- the next year he was alternating quarters with the veteran. Webster holds the franchise records for seasons (15), games (220) and most consecutive games played (177). A seven-time All-Pro who played in nine Pro Bowls, Webster was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. But none of that happens without Dave Lechnir's dedication. Growing up on a farm in Harshaw, near Tomahawk, Wisconsin, Webster's day began with chores followed by an 18-mile bus ride to rural Rylander High School. Dave Lechnir was the school's football coach, and when he tried to get Webster to go out for football, the teenager told the coach that chores and the school bus schedule made it impossible to participate in any after-school program. Lechnir assured Webster and his father that he would drive the teenager to and from school so he could do his chores and stay late for practice. "If the coach hadn't been able to drive me, I guess I'd still be working for my dad," Webster said upon retiring from the NFL.

Joe Greene: Defensive Tackle (1969-81)

Only the truly great can change history, and that's what Joe Greene did. When Chuck Noll first met the team he inherited in 1969 he told the players that the goal was to win a Super Bowl championship but that most of them weren't good enough to be a part of that. Then, the first player Noll added to that room was Joe Greene. He'll be the first to say he's getting way too much credit, but Joe Greene's legacy to the Steelers transcends any statistics. Greene was all about the winning, and his standing among his peers in the locker room guided them in that same direction. In a 1972 game the injury-ravaged Steelers had to win to make the playoffs, Greene had five sacks and blocked a short field goal attempt by the Oilers; he recovered one fumble and forced another, and those takeaways led to two field goals in a 9-3 win. In 1974 the Steelers won their first championship, and Greene had nine sacks and an interception during the season, and then another interception and a fumble recovery in Super Bowl IX. He earned All-NFL honors five times and was voted to 10 Pro Bowls. Greene was twice the league's Defensive Player of the Year.

L.C. Greenwood: Defensive End (1969-81)

Jack Ham remembers it well, still. It was in 1976, when the Steelers defense was so dominant that it forced rules changes, and the team had a game in Kansas City. So dominant were the defensive linemen on his side of the field -- Joe Greene at left tackle and L.C. Greenwood at left end -- that he, as the left outside linebacker, went through most of the entire first half without being touched. Picked in the 10th round by the Steelers from Arkansas AM&N, Greenwood was too slight to play for many teams, but Chuck Noll and line coach Dan Radakovich nurtured his athleticism. Recognized for the gold high-top cleats he wore, Greenwood was known as a big-game player. From 1973-75 he had 25.5 sacks; in Super Bowl IX he batted down three passes; and in Super Bowl X he sacked Roger Staubach three times. He is ranked second on the team's all-time sacks list with 73.5.

Casey Hampton: Nose Tackle (2001-Present)

He is known throughout the NFL as a nose tackle who stops the opponent's running attack, but Casey Hampton's most memorable stop came on a different playing field. Lined up with the rest of the players and coaches on risers in the East Room of the White House, Casey Hampton stopped the President of the United States with his smile. Hampton always claimed to know George W. Bush from their days working out together at the University of Texas in the late 1990s. When the Steelers were invited to Washington, D.C., to be recognized for winning Super Bowl XL, Hampton proved it. "Hey, Hamp, how ya doin'," said Mr. Bush, who stopped to shake hands on his walk to the podium. Hampton has appeared in three Pro Bowls during a six-year career so far, and he was voted co-MVP by his teammates during the 2005 championship season.

Ernie Stautner: Defensive Tackle (1950-63)

"That man ain't human. He's too strong to be human ... He's the toughest guy in the league to play against because he keeps coming head first. Swinging those forearms wears you down." That's the way Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jim Parker once described Ernie Stautner. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Stautner came to the Steelers as a second-round draft choice from Boston College who had been told by the New York Giants that he was too short to play professional football. But he anchored Pittsburgh's defense for 14 seasons and was voted the NFL's Best Lineman Award in 1957 because of his strength and toughness. "What made him was his strength," said Dan Rooney. "This was a time players didn't have strength, they didn't lift weights. I remember we were playing the Giants at Forbes Field one time and it was a very close game, and they were moving the ball. He sacked the quarterback three times in a row." The Steelers retired his No. 70 jersey in 1964 following his retirement, and he remains the only Steelers player to have received that honor. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

Dwight White: Defensive End (1971-80)

It will go down as one of the most courageous efforts on a football field in NFL history. After arriving in New Orleans a week before Super Bowl IX, Dwight White was diagnosed with severe pneumonia complicated by pleurisy, a lung infection. White spent the week in a hospital being pumped with antibiotics and losing 18 pounds, but he showed up on a wet, 46-degree day and played virtually the whole game. Seven of the Vikings' first eight running plays attacked the right side of the Steelers defense, and White made three tackles for a grand total of no yards gained. The Vikings finished with 17 yards on 21 rushing plays, and White scored the game's first points when he covered Fran Tarkenton in the end zone for a safety. Nicknamed "Mad Dog" for his intensity, White was voted to two Pro Bowls (after the 1973 and 1974 seasons), and his 46 sacks is seventh in team history. From 1972-75, White had 33.5 sacks and he capped that era with three sacks against Dallas in Super Bowl X.

Jack Ham: Outside Linebacker (1971-82)

It was 1975, and the Steelers were having their way with the San Diego Chargers in the regular season opener. Protecting a big lead in a game they eventually would win, 37-0, the Steelers coaches had just told Jack Ham and Andy Russell they were through for the rest of the day, and so Ham had begun to tell Russell about the coal business he had gotten into during the offseason. In the middle of the story, the Chargers returned an interception to the 3-yard line, and with the idea of protecting the shutout Ham was sent back onto the field. Wrote Russell, "The first play the Chargers ran was a sweep to the right. Bad idea. Ham took their giant tight end, threw him aside, speared the runner behind the line of scrimmage causing him to fumble, which of course Jack recovered. As he slowly walked off the field, he casually flipped the ball to the ref. Returning to our position on the sideline, Jack turned to me smiling and said, 'Where was I?'" Ham earned All-Pro or All-AFC honors in seven consecutive seasons, played in eight straight Pro Bowls, was named the Football News Defensive Player of the Year in 1975 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. He also forever changed the way outside linebacker was played in the NFL.

Jack Lambert: Middle Linebacker (1974-84)

When asked for the umpteenth time by the media about a hit on Browns quarterback Brian Sipe that got him thrown out of a 1981 game, Jack Lambert said, "Brian has a chance to go out of bounds and he decides not to. He knows I'm going to hit him. And I do. History." Said teammate Andy Russell, "Tough, raw-boned, intense -- that's the way he'll be remembered, but I've seen a lot of guys like that come into the league. No, Jack's a whole lot more. The range he has -- they put him into coverage 30 yards downfield. They gave him assignments the Bears or the Packers never would've dreamed of (for Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke). He brought a whole new concept to the position, and that's why, for me, he's the greatest there ever has been. His first step is never wrong, his techniques always have been perfect. His greatness has nothing to do with his popular image." But what an image. After Lambert threw Cliff Harris to the ground for taunting Roy Gerela after a missed field goal in Super Bowl X, Chuck Noll said, "Jack Lambert is a defender of what is right." Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 after a very productive NFL career, Lambert led the Steelers in tackles in every season except his last one, which was ruined by the toe injury that forced him to retire. He was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowl selection. Lambert was voted team MVP twice in his career.

Greg Lloyd: Outside Linebacker (1988-97)

Dick LeBeau has been involved in the National Football League for 47 years, 14 as a player and the last 33 as a coach. He has had two stints as a defensive coordinator in both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and he was the Bengals' head coach from 2000-02. When asked which player he has coached over those 33 seasons that he'd pick to build a defense around, LeBeau answered almost immediately: Greg Lloyd. What distinguished Lloyd from so many others? "Greg had a no-nonsense approach," said LeBeau, "that seemed to permeate the rest of the group." Lloyd played college football at Fort Valley State, where he also majored in chemical engineering, and the Steelers discovered him on a tape of the Sheridan All-Star Game, which featured players from the predominantly black colleges. Lloyd stood out because he made just about every tackle, all over the field, and the Steelers made him their sixth-round draft pick in 1987. Then, on his first play during his first minicamp, Lloyd covered the back out of the backfield and made the interception. A three-time All-Pro, Lloyd ranks sixth on the team's all-time sacks list with 53.5, played in five Pro Bowls and was named team MVP twice.

Joey Porter: Outside Linebacker (1999-2006)

There are a lot of elements that must come together for a team to put together a run to an NFL championship, and when the Steelers were doing that in 2005, Joey Porter was invaluable. Not only did he post three sacks in the three AFC playoff games, but Porter used his personality to make sure his teammates were ready for whatever they might encounter. He called the Indianapolis Colts "soft" before the AFC Divisional Playoff game, and then he took on Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens during the verbal run-up to Super Bowl XL. And it was Porter who orchestrated two tributes to Jerome Bettis that week -- one with the Notre Dame replica jerseys and the other by allowing him to take the field alone during pregame introductions at Ford Field. Porter finished his eight seasons in Pittsburgh with 60 career sacks, which ranks fourth on the team's all-time list. He also had 10 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, which he turned into four touchdowns. Porter was named the team's co-MVP in 2002 and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl.

Andy Russell: Outside Linebacker (1963, 1966-76)

Wrote Jack Ham, "Today, most players back into the Pro Bowl by playing mediocre football on good teams. Andy played great football on a worse than mediocre team. Why? Because Andy was always the consummate professional. His personal pride and drive for excellence allowed him to stand out on even the worst of football teams. It would have been easy for him to give up or be sucked into the mediocrity that he saw all around him, but he refused to do so. That attitude was clear to me from my first day of training camp to Andy's last game with the Steelers." From 1963-71, Russell played on a lot of Steelers teams that did a lot of losing, but he also was part of the dramatic turnaround that ended with back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1974-75. Russell played in 168 consecutive games during his NFL career with the Steelers. A No. 16 draft pick from Missouri, Russell played in seven Pro Bowls and was voted team MVP in 1971.

Mel Blount: Cornerback (1970-83)

Mel Blount was walking through the bowels of Three Rivers Stadium in 1982 when he happened upon a group of scouts recording the vertical jump of the latest hot prospect. This time the prospect was Renaldo Nehemiah, the world-record holder in the 110-meter high hurdles. There was a black mark on the wall, and Blount asked what it was. When told that was Nehemiah's mark for his vertical jump, Blount, in his street clothes, promptly jumped higher and said, "That's the Steelers' mark." At the time, Mel Blount was 31 years old. That's the level of athleticism Blount, the Steelers' No. 3 pick in 1970, brought to cornerback, and he also was so big, strong and fast that he helped force the NFL to change its rules on pass defense after the 1977 season. Blount played 14 seasons and 200 games in Pittsburgh, and his 57 interceptions are tops in team history. After being pulled from the 1974 AFC Championship Game and stung by the move, Blount rebounded in 1975 to record 11 interceptions and be voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He played in five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro four times.

Jack Butler: Defensive Back (1951-59)

It is said that defensive backs often choose between making a play on the football or making a play on the receiver. Jack Butler did both. Described by former Pittsburgh Press sports editor Pat Livingston as "having the face of a choirboy and the heart of an arsonist," Butler played nine seasons with the Steelers and recorded 52 interceptions in 103 games, and the guy who once studied to become a priest accomplished that in a most uncharitable way. "The best pass defense is the respect of the receivers," said Butler. "If they know they're going to get hit as soon as they touch the ball, they're not so relaxed catching it." When Butler's stellar career ended, only Hall of Famers Dick "Night Train" Lane and Emlen Tunnell had more interceptions than him. Butler never played high school football, and only tried out at St. Bonaventure College as a lark. Father Dan Rooney, a priest at St. Bonaventure, recommended Butler to his brother, who just happened to be Art Rooney Sr., the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Butler finished his career with four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl from 1956-1959.

Carnell Lake: Safety (1989-98)

Rod Woodson had torn his ACL in the opener, and seven games into the 1995 season the Steelers were 3-4 and still hadn't found a capable replacement. Coach Bill Cowher decided the last option was to move safety Carnell Lake to cornerback, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau got on the telephone and informed Lake of the impending move. The next day when LeBeau arrived at Three Rivers Stadium at 6 a.m., Lake was already there waiting for the tutorial to begin. A linebacker in college, Lake made the difficult transition to safety in the NFL, and then as a professional, he twice made the even more difficult transition to cornerback, and both times he did it at midseason. Lake made four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, including both seasons when he switched to cornerback -- 1995 and 1997. Without Lake playing as he did in 1995, the Steelers never would have advanced to Super Bowl XXX. Also in 1997, Lake became the first defensive back in franchise history to lead the team in quarterback sacks, with six.

Troy Polamalu: Safety (2003-Present)

"If you don't know where Troy Polamalu is," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, "he'll kill you." The Houston Texans got a live example during a 2005 game when Polamalu recorded three sacks, one of which came when he walked up to the line, then turned his back to the line of scrimmage in an apparent move to get back into coverage, only to pivot at the snap of the ball and find a lane to quarterback David Carr. "I mean, every time I looked up, it seemed like No. 43 was in my face," said Carr, who was sacked eight times that afternoon. The 16th overall pick of the 2003 draft, Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed are the first two players named whenever the subject is big-play safeties in the NFL. In two separate meetings with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2005, Polamalu had an interception in each game, even though the one in the playoffs was ruled incomplete by referee Peter Morelli. In his four NFL seasons, Polamalu has 10 interceptions, seven sacks and two appearances in the Pro Bowl.

Donnie Shell: Safety (1974-87)

Earl Campbell was a 233-pound running back by trade, and inflicting pain was part of his business. In 1978, Campbell would finish with 1,450 yards, a 4.8 average and 13 touchdowns, but on Dec. 3 with the division title at stake, he met his match in Donnie Shell. In the first quarter, Campbell was spinning out of a tackle trying to get extra yards, when the man nicknamed "Torpedo" came flying up to the line of scrimmage and delivered a blow that could be heard in the upper reaches of the Astrodome. Campbell left the game with a broken rib, and the Steelers beat the Oilers, 13-3, in a season that ended with the third Super Bowl championship in team history. Shell was an undrafted rookie in 1974 because he played linebacker at South Carolina State, but through hard work and dedication he made himself into an All-Pro who finished his career with 51 interceptions, still the most in NFL history for a strong safety. Shell was a five-time Pro Bowl player, who had at least one interception in each of his 14 NFL seasons.

Rod Woodson: Cornerback (1987-96)

He had missed the entire 1995 regular season with a knee injury, and in the 1996 opener the Steelers lost a game and four linebackers to injury in Jacksonville. The defense was reeling, and division rival Baltimore was due at Three Rivers Stadium the next Sunday. On the second offensive play of the game, Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde tried to go right at Rod Woodson. Big mistake. Woodson intercepted the pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to set a tone for a season that ended with another division championship in Pittsburgh. One of only five active players selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team in 1994, Woodson was a six-time All-Pro cornerback during his career in Pittsburgh and was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. Woodson intercepted 38 passes during his career here, and he set a team record by returning five for touchdowns. Possessing the ideal blend of speed and strength, Woodson was a world-class athlete who qualified for the 1984 Olympic trials in the 110-meter hurdles, and he also finished his Steelers career as the team's all-time leader in punt and kickoff returns. During a memorable matchup against Jerry Rice and the 49ers in 1993, Woodson intercepted Steve Young twice and blocked a 47-yard field goal in the Steelers' 24-13 loss.

Gary Anderson: Kicker (1982-94)

The Dallas Cowboys had won 17 straight openers when the Steelers visited there to start the 1982 season, and the game was being televised on Monday Night Football to boot. Gary Anderson was a rookie who had been cut by Buffalo and signed by the Steelers just days before that game, and he made an immediate splash in the NFL. Anderson was 3-for-3 in field goals that night, all in the second half, and the Steelers held on for a 36-28 win. The Steelers' all-time leader in points, Anderson was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team in 1982 and followed that by leading the AFC in scoring and being named team MVP the following year. Anderson connected on 309 field goals in 395 attempts (78.2 percent) and 416-of-420 PATs for a Steelers'-record 1,343 points. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Anderson owns the team's career records for points (1,343), field goals (309), field goal attempts (395) and longest field goal (55). In a 1989 Wild Card Game in Houston, Anderson's 50-yard field goal in overtime was the difference in a 26-23 upset win for the Steelers.

Bobby Walden: Punter (1968-77)

Cairo is the county seat of Grady County, Georgia, and its most famous resident is Jackie Robinson, the man who integrated Major League Baseball 60 years ago. Bobby Walden might not be that famous, but in those parts he is known as "The Big Toe from Cairo." Walden still owns the Steelers' all-time record for career punts with 716, and his 41.1-yard average puts him seventh on the team's all-time list. Walden was the team's punter on the first two Super Bowl championship teams of the 1970s.

Mike Prisuta can be reached at or 412-320-7923.