STH YesterYears Series - Team

Most Storied Franchises in the History of the NFL, The Pittsburgh Steelers?

There is no question that the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the NFL. The franchise is the oldest franchise in the American Football Conference. 

The franchise was officially founded on January 8th, 1933. Originally, they adopted the same name as their city’s major league baseball team.  They were known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Media within Pittsburgh resorted to calling the team “The Rooneymen” so they wouldn’t be confused with the baseball team. 

Cowher and RothelesbergSports Team History

The team would get off to a rocky start in terms of success. They never finished over .500 in the 1930s and would struggle during the early-to-mid 1940s due to player shortages resulting from World War II. The Steelers’ first playoff appearance took place in 1947. However, they would not enjoy much success in terms of playoffs and/or championship before the NFL merged with the AFL. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers would hire Chuck Noll as head coach in 1969. That was a game-changing move. Chuck Noll would spend twenty-three years as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (1969-1991). He would lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowls (1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979) during his tenure. The Steelers would become the only team in NFL history to win four Super Bowls within a six-year span.  Chuck Noll would win a franchise-record 209 games as head coach of the Steelers.

Noll had a knack for making excellent draft choices. He would draft “Mean” Joe Greene in his first season as head coach.   Joe Greene would go on to be one of the greatest players in the history of the Steelers. The key to the Steeler’s success in their championship years was their iconic defensive line known as the “Steel Curtain”. “Mean” Joe Greene was one of the anchors of that defensive line along with players such as L.C Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White.  

Joe Greene would finish his career with 77.5 sacks. He was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969. He was a 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner (1972, 1974). He made it to the Pro-Bowl ten times and was named an All-Pro four times. Joe Greene would be selected to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame. 

In 1970, Noll would draft Terry Bradshaw at quarterback and cornerback Mel Blount. Both would go to have legendary careers that would lead them to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame. Chuck Noll would draft future Hall-of-Famers Jack Ham and Franco Harris in 1971 and 1972, respectively. In 1974, Noll would have the greatest draft in the history of football. Noll would draft four Hall of Famers (Lynn Swann, Mike Webster, John Stallworth, and Jack Lambert) in the same draft.   

Many of the iconic Steeler players during the 1970s would retire during the early part of the 1980s.  As a result, the Steelers were largely inconsistent during that decade. 

Bill Cowher would take over as head coach of the Steelers in 1992. Cowher would lead his team to the playoffs for the first six seasons. He would lead them to AFC Championship appearances three times in that span. In 1995, Cowher would lead them to the Super Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys.  However, they would lose 27-17. Cowher would lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl ten years later against the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers would beat the Seahawks 21-10. With that win, the Steelers became the first #6 seed in NFL history to win the Super Bowl since the NFL expanded the playoff format to 12 teams in the early ’90s. 

In 2007, Mike Tomlin would become the first African American head coach in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like his predecessors, Tomlin maintained the consistent record of stability and success that has defined the Steelers. 

During Tomlin’s 14-year current stint as the Steelers head coach, Tomlin has never had a losing season. He has led the Steelers to the playoffs nine times in 14 seasons. Tomlin led the Steelers to two Super Bowl appearances. He would lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship in 2008 with a 27-23 victory against the Cardinals. This was the sixth Super Bowl victory for the Steelers in franchise history.  

A common denominator for the Steeler’s success over the past 18 seasons is QB Ben Roethlisberger. Nicknamed “Big Ben”, he has won two Super Bowls as quarterback of the Steelers. He has thrown for over 60,000 passing yards and 396 total TDS.   He has a regular-season record of 156-74-1 and has a playoff record of 13-9. 

There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the premier franchises in NFL History. They are tied with the New England Patriots for the most Super Bowl titles in history. Given their level of consistency and stability, the Steelers will most likely remain competitive for the foreseeable future and build on their impressive legacy.

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