By The Numbers: The Best In Steelers History

Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Jordan DeFigio, @fidgenewton
SteelerNation.com

All the way back on April 12 (which feels like a couple decades ago), we started a series on our Instagram account (@steelernationcom) going through each number, who wore it in Pittsburgh Steelers history, and let our followers vote on who wore it best. This past week we concluded the series and we wanted to answer the burning question – just who WAS the best by the numbers? Let’s have a look:

  1. Gary Anderson, K. Anderson won the vote, and rightly so. Starting with the Steelers in 1982 and playing through 1994, he made the Pro-Bowl four times, was an All-Time Pro selection once, and holds the record for most points scored by a Steeler.
  2. Michael Vick, QB. Though his time with the team was underwhelming, the votes tallied up indicating that Vick was the greatest to wear no. 2 for the Steelers.
  3. Jeff Reed, K. Another kicker takes the W for the number 3. Reed was quite the personality and had a huge impact on the team, winning two Super Bowls with them. He is second all-time in points scored for the Steelers behind only Gary Anderson.
  4. Byron Leftwich, QB. Ok, so the pickings were slim for this number. But he was a solid backup quarterback and did well with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  5. Craig Colquitt, P. Two-time Super Bowl champion and more-than-reliable punter, Colquitt wins no. 5 easily.
  6. Bubby Brister, QB. Playing for the Steelers for 7 seasons and taking over at the helm from a certain quarterback that will be named in a handful of numbers, Brister did well with the team and beat out Shaun Suisham and Devlin Hodges for the title of best to wear no. 6.
  7. Ben Roethlisberger, QB. This one doesn’t need explaining. But we will anyway. 56,545 total yards, 363 touchdowns, all-time QBR of 92.6, two-time Super Bowl champion, and captain of the team. Roethlisberger easily takes no. 7.
  8. Tommy Maddox, QB. The successor to Kordell Stewart and starting up until the injury that led Ben Roethlisberger to take over, Maddox was a good quarterback and a great guy. Not much competition for no. 8.
  9. Chris Boswell, K. Despite his off season in 2018, Boswell bounced back and has proven himself to be one of the better kickers in Steelers’ history.
  10. Santonio Holmes, WR. Super Bowl MVP and recipient of the touchdown catch on the last-minute game-winning drive, Holmes beats out Stewart for no. 10.
  11. Markus Wheaton, WR. Wheaton was one of those guys that you’d want on your fantasy league as a secondary receiver or flex guy. He was hardly all flash, but he got the points and made plays. He takes no. 11.
  12. Terry Bradhsaw, QB. The Steelers’ fanbase certainly has been spoiled over the years, and this man is one of our riches. 27,989 career yards, 212 touchdowns, and four Super Bowl rings, Terry Bradshaw easily claims no. 12
  13. James Washington, WR. Even though he is young and still developing as a receiver, Washington won out in the battle for no. 13. He has a lot of potential and I hope he really does prove to be the best to wear it.
  14. Neil O’Donnell, QB. As much as it hurts, O’Donnell wins out for no. 14. Despite his…er, shortcomings, in Super Bowl XXX, he was good quarterback during his time with the Steelers.
  15. Mike Kruczek, QB. Not a ton of options for no. 15, so Kruczek wins out. He wasn’t a phenomenal quarterback but he was good enough.
  16. Charlie Batch, QB. One of the best and most reliable backups to ever play the game. If our starter went down, we knew we were in good hands.
  17. Mike Wallace, WR. Though he may have been sent packing so the Steelers could pay another big-name receiver, Wallace was FAST. And he had the hands and the ability to create space between himself and the defenders.
  18. Mike Tomczak, QB. He was no Terry Bradshaw, but in his 7 seasons with the Steelers he put up impressive numbers. Thanks to that, Tomczak wins no. 18, though it was a close call between him and Diontae Johnson. If Johnson continues to impress the way he did last season, he will no doubt overtake this number. It’s only a matter of time.
  19. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR. While we have yet to see if he can bounce back from his slump in the 2019-2020 season, Smith-Schuster has still managed to put up impressive numbers through the early years of his career and is the easy choice for no. 19.
  20. Rocky Bleier, RB. No doubt here. Blier takes the cake.
  21. Mewelde Moore, RB. Moore stepped up BIG time when starting running back Willie Parker got hurt in the 2008-2009 season. We don’t get to that Super Bowl and win without an effective running game, and a lot of that is thanks to Mewelde Moore.
  22. William Gay, CB. Not the most popular man in Pittsburgh around 2011, Gay greatly improved his game after the Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers. He stepped up and solidified himself as the best to wear no. 22.
  23. Mike Wagner, S. A staple of the Steel Curtain defense, Wagner easily takes no. 23.
  24. Ike Taylor, CB. There was a reason Taylor wasn’t a receiver, and I’m not saying it was his hands, but…regardless of how you feel about Ike Taylor, he was a FANTASTIC pass defender and while his interceptions may have been lower, his broken passes were high. He had a tendency to be exactly where he needed to be at just the right time.
  25. Ryan Clark, S. Clark played 8 seasons with the Steelers, bookended by time with the Washington Redskins. But he helped solidify the secondary alongside other Blitzburgh legends, and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2009.
  26. Rod Woodson, DB. While Le’Veon Bell may be one of the best running backs to pass through the Steel City, it’s no question that Woodson is still the best to wear no. 26. He was a Steeler for 10 years and always made a splash on the field.
  27. Glen Edwards, S. Team MVP in 1974, two-time Super Bowl champion, and two-time Pro Bowler. Edwards takes no. 27.
  28. Mike Hilton, CB. Current player, great potential. With the stacked secondary we have, Hilton really has a chance to step up and make an impact.
  29. Barry Foster, RB. A lifelong Steeler and one of the best running backs in franchise history, Foster racked up 3,943 yards and 26 touchdowns on 915 attempts in 5 seasons with the Steelers. He convincingly wins no. 29.
  30. Chad Scott, CB. Scott played for the Steelers for 8 of his 10 years in the NFL, and wins out for no. 30.
  31. Donnie Shell, S. Shell FINALLY received his due this year by being inducted into the Pro-Football Hall Of Fame. He deserves it, and he deserves the title of best to wear no. 31.
  32. Franco Harris, RB. The Immaculate Reception, Franco’s Italian Army, four-time Super Bowl champion, Harris is a legend and enigma and is the only correct answer for no. 32.
  33. Merril Hoge, RB. A dependable back and delightful personality, Hoge wins no. 33.
  34. Andy Russell, LB. Seven-time Pro Bowler. SEVEN. TIMES. Russell wins the battle for no. 34.
  35. Dan Kreider, FB. Do you remember the days we had a good full-back and actually used him? I remember. And I’m hopeful we’re returning to those days with the acquisition of Derek Watt. But for now, Kreider wins no. 35.
  36. Jerome Bettis, RB. Here come the Bus, here come the Bus. No NFL legacy has as storybook ending like that of Jerome Bettis, winning the Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit and riding off into the sunset towards retirement. The best at 36 all-time.
  37. Carnell Lake, CB. Five-time Pro Bowler, First Team All-Pro, 16 interceptions, 3 touchdowns, 15 forced fumbles, Lake easily wins no. 37.
  38. Sidney Thornton, RB. Two-time Super Bowl champion, Sidney Thornton wins out for no. 38.
  39. Willie Parker, RB. We didn’t call him “Fast Willie” for no reason, and I remember watching him game after game run his heart out. He ran so fast and so strong that his feet would hit his butt as he flew down the field. A legend if there ever was one.
  40. Myron Bell, S. Bell started and ended his career in Pittsburgh, and was part of the Super Bowl run the Steelers made in the 1995-1996 season.
  41. Lee Flowers, S. Flowers was a powerhouse and easily takes no. 41.
  42. Dick Hoak, RB. Not only was Hoak a running back from 1961-1970, he went on to coach the team from 1972-2007, becoming the longest tenured coach in the team’s history.
  43. Troy Polamalu, S. Troy Polamalu. That’s it. That’s the tweet. If you don’t know, just go watch videos. It’s well worth it.
  44. DJ Johnson, CB. Not a ton of competition for 44, so DJ Johnson wins out.
  45. Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, FB. More than even watching him play, I remember having so much fun yelling “Fuuuuuuu” at the television with my dad when he would make plays. Amazing memories, and a great full-back to boot.
  46. Reggie Harrison, RB. After blocking Mitch Hoopes’ punt in Super Bowl X against the Dallas Cowboys, he helped cut the lead in half and enabled the Steelers to gain momentum and go on to win the game.
  47. Mel Blount, CB. Seriously. How spoiled is our fanbase?
  48. Bud Dupree, LB. After a disappointing start to his career, Dupree really exploded last season. If he can keep that up, there’s no telling what other accomplishments he will achieve in his time as a linebacker in the NFL. But for now, being the best at no. 48 is a good start.
  49. Dwayne Woodruff, CB. Woodruff not only won a championship with the Steelers in 1979, but also intercepted passes on key plays in both the divisional game and AFC Championship game. He totaled 37 interceptions, even leading the team in interceptions for 5 seasons. At 12 seasons and 105 games played with the Steelers, Woodruff wins no. 49.
  50. Larry Foote, LB. Two-time Super Bowl champion, Foote made a HUGE interception in the 2005 AFC Championship game. He wins no. 50 in a close race.
  51. James Farrior, LB. Farrior was part of one of the greatest defenses of all time, and the Steelers don’t win Super Bowl 40 or Super Bowl 43 without him. So he wins no. 51.
  52. Mike Webster, C. When a team avoids handing out a number to new guys because of its history, unofficially retiring it, you know the guy who wore it last wore it best. A four-time Super Bowl champion, nine-time Pro Bowler, Hall of Famer, and member of the NFL team of the 70’s and 80’s, Webster easily takes 52.
  53. Maurkice Pouncey, C. Well on his way to forging a Hall of Fame career, Pouncey is one of the best centers the Steelers have had and takes no. 53.
  54. Hardy Nickerson, LB. Though he had most of his success with Tampa Bay, he did well in the black and gold. And Nickerson wins no. 54.
  55. Joey Porter, LB. Super Bowl champion, member of the Steelers All Time team, and former coach, Porter is the best to wear no. 55.
  56. Lamarr Woodley, OLB. Pro Bowl player and Super Bowl champion, Woodley was a crucial part of the Blitzburgh defense.
  57. Sam Davis, G. Davis spent all 13 years of his career with the Steelers, winning four Super Bowls and being named a member of the Steelers’ 50th Season All Time team.
  58. Jack Lambert, LB. No questions asked here. Mostly because I’m afraid Lambert would find out and hunt me down. By far the scariest man to ever step on the gridiron.
  59. Jack Ham, OLB. Again, one of the best ever to play the game. Ham had 53 takeaways in his career, the most of any non-DB in NFL history, and his 32 interceptions rank him third all-time for linebackers. Ladies and gentlemen, Jack Ham.
  60. Greg Warren, Long Snapper. Nothing crazy here, but he was a good long snapper.
  61. Tyrone McGriff, G. Once again, nothing crazy. But a solid guard. McGriff takes no. 61.
  62. Tunch Ilkin, T. From protecting our quarterbacks to broadcasting in the booth, he really can do it all.
  63. Dermontti Dawson, C. Seven-time Pro Bowler, six time First Team All Pro, and member of the NFL 90’s and Steelers’ All Time teams.
  64. Steve Furness, DT. Four-time Super Bowl champion, Furness took over from Ernie Holmes and never looked back. He takes no. 64.
  65. John Jackson, T. Jackson spent 10 years with the team and was an anchor for one of the greatest offensive lines in the 90’s.
  66. Alan Faneca, G. Super Bowl champion, nine-time Pro Bowler, and member of the NFL 2000’s All Decade and Steelers’ All-Time teams. Faneca is simply one of the best to ever do it.
  67. Gary Dunn, DT. Dunn spent 12 years with the team, winning two Super Bowl rings and was a team captain four times.
  68. L.C. Greenwood, DE. Why is he still not in the Hall of Fame? I mean, seriously. Why?
  69. Gabe Rivera, T. This one was a bit of a reach, but Rivera won no. 69.
  70. Ernie Stautner, DT. One of only two players to have their number officially retired by the Steelers, Stautner is a member of the Hall of Fame and deserving of the title of best to wear no. 70.
  71. Orpheus Roye, DE. Roye had two stints with the team, and in his second go-round he won a Super Bowl with the Steelers.
  72. Gerry Mullins, G. Any four-time Super Bowl champion is most likely the best to wear his number. And Mullins is no exception
  73. Ramon Foster, G. Recently retired, forever in our hearts.
  74. Willie Colon, T. Super Bowl champion Willie Colon wins out for no. 74.
  75. Joe Greene, DT. I mean, come on. We are SO lucky. We can never complain about anything. Ever.
  76. John Banaszak, DE. Three-time Super Bowl champion, starting in two of them. Not a bad resume at all.
  77. Marvel Smith, T. Two-time Super Bowl champion Smith wins the rights to no. 77.
  78. Dwight White, DE. Four-time Super Bowl champion and member of the infamous Steel Curtain, Dwight White is the best to ever wear no. 78.
  79. Larry Brown, TE. Four-time Super Bowl champion, Brown transitioned from tight end to offensive tackle somewhere in between those victories. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and member of the Steelers’ All Time team.
  80. Plaxico Burress, WR. Burress spent a total of seven years with the Steelers in two different stints, and though he didn’t win any Super Bowls in the black and gold, he did catch the game winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII with the Giants to totally destroy any hopes the Patriots had of the perfect season.
  81. Charles Johnson, WR. Even though Jesse James caught that ball, Johnson was voted the best to ever wear no. 81.
  82. John Stallworth, WR. Antwaan Randle-El and Yancey Thigpen were great in their own right, but neither were John Stallworth. Four-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowler, and member of the Steelers’ All Time team. He is not only the best to wear no. 82 but one of the best wide receivers in franchise history.
  83. Heath Miller, TE. Heaaaaaaath. One of the best tight ends to play the game, he was a physical guy who used his size to make big plays. I miss seeing him on the field each week.
  84. Antonio Brown, WR. Regardless how you feel about Antonio Brown the man, Antonio Brown the receiver was undoubtedly one of the (if not THE) greatest receivers to ever play the sport. He will forever be one of the league’s biggest what-could-have-been’s.
  85. Nate Washintgon, WR. Washington was only with the team for four years but managed to win two Super Bowls in that time frame. Not too shabby, and no. 85 was his for the taking.
  86. Hines Ward, WR. Super Bowl MVP, two-time champion, all-time leader in receptions, yardage, and touchdowns. He blocked harder than anyone and could even throw the ball. No doubt Ward wins this one.
  87. Mark Bruener, TE. Many would say he never lived up to his first round billing, but he was a solid blocker in his nine year tenure with the Steelers.
  88. Lynn Swann, WR. A magician on the field. He made the most impossible of catches look utterly commonplace. What I would give to have been alive to watch this man play.
  89. Bernie Cunningham, TE. Two-time Super Bowl champion and member of the Steelers’ All Time team, Cunningham takes no. 89.
  90. TJ Watt, LB. One of the few current players to win out in his number, but rightfully so. He was snubbed for Defensive Player Of The Year, so he deserved this at least.
  91. Aaron Smith, DE. This was a close one, between Smith and Kevin Greene. But Smith won out as he more than earned his place as a staple in Steelers’ history.
  92. James Harrison, LB. The team has had their fair share of fractured relationships with players once they move on, but no matter what may have happened once he left, he still won two Super Bowls, was a 5-time Pro Bowler, was named Defensive Player Of The Year in 2008, and still holds the record for longest play in Super Bowl history. Harrison owns no. 92.
  93. Joel Sneed, DT. Sneed played his entire career with the Steelers and was a Pro Bowler in 1997.
  94. Lawrence Timmons, LB. A vastly underrated player during his tenure with the team, Timmons was a rock-solid linebacker and takes the title of best at no. 94.
  95. Greg Lloyd Sr., LB. Ten seasons, five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro, two-time Steelers’ MVP, and member of the Steelers’ All Time team. No surprises here.
  96. Brentson Buckner, DT. Buckner only played with the team for three seasons, but he was an integral part of the defense that led them to Super Bowl XXX.
  97. Cameron Heyward, DE. Three-time Pro Bowler (in consecutive seasons) and two-time first team All Pro. Cam Heyward is the obvious choice here.
  98. Casey Hampton, DT. The Big Snack. In 2002, Hampton took over the starting nose tackle role and forged his way through the rest of his career all the way to his retirement in 2012. He was with the Steelers for the entirety of his career, and racked up his own list of accomplishments. Five-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion, and member of the Steelers’ All Time team.
  99. Brett Keisel, DE. Fear the beard. Everyone did. He was always in your face and he takes the final number of 99.

Wow. To have it all laid out plainly and clearly, with all players and their achievements spelled out, it’s hard to not burst with pride over the team we root for. The amount of talent that has passed through this organization is truthfully hard to believe, and I can’t help but find myself jealous of all the people who got to live through each of the decades of this storied franchise. What an honor it is to be a Steelers fan.

What do you think of this list? Are there any numbers you would change/dispute? Let us know in the comments below.

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