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For the Steelers, Centers are the Center of Attention

Steeler Nation

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Staff member
Pittsburgh Steelers fans know they rarely change head coaches. With only their 3rd head coach since 1969, this is a feat that no other team has ever come close to. However, there is a position on the football field that the Steelers treat just about the same way, and that spot lives at the heart of the offensive line.

I have always considered centers a skill position. I know we usually reserve skill positions for running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks, but think about it. The center is the only player that touches the football on every play. The quarterback nearly takes all of the snaps, but not in the wildcat, or direct snaps to the RBs and receivers. Not only do they have to snap a football before they have to mark their man and block, they are also responsible for calling out the blocking assignments pre-snap. A commitment to a great center means you need someone who is smart, athletic, and tough, and the Steelers have put together a run at center that can also be the envy of the league.

The first great Steelers center of note was Ray Mansfield. He started out as a defensive tackle with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1963. The Steelers picked him up in ’64 and after two years, they moved him to center where he became the backbone of the offensive line for a decade. Chuck Noll told his new team that they weren’t good enough to play in this league and most of them wouldn’t be there for long, but Mansfield didn’t shy away and showed he belonged on his way to starting and winning two Super Bowls and earning two more 2nd Team All-Pro Awards. Mansfield was tough as nails, and missed only eight starts before giving way to a new young center in 1976.

In 1974 the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Mike Webster in the 5th round out of Wisconsin. For two years, Webster had the benefit of playing and learning behind Mansfield, starting one game each season for the old veteran before taking over for good in 1976. Webster only missed five starts in the 15 seasons he served as the starting center, and earned the nickname “Iron Mike” for his toughness and dependability. He was also the cream of the crop of his generation, earning nine Pro Bowls, seven 1st Team All-Pros, four Super Bowls, NFL All-Decade Team for the 70s and 80s, and NFL All Time Teams for the 75th and 100th Anniversaries. Webster was not only reliable, he was dominant. You could count on him to move the man in front of him on every play of every game. His excellence as a center is the gold standard and one the Steelers looked to repeat in future drafts.

Mike Webster left for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989, but the Steelers had already drafted their heir apparent. In 1988 they selected center Dermontti Dawson from Kentucky in the 2nd round. Learning for a year behind Webster, Dawson became the starter in ’89 and didn’t miss a game for the next 10 years. He racked up seven Pro Bowls, six 1st Team All-Pros, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 90s. Dawson’s athletic style was a revolution for the center position as his quick feet allowed him to pull and get to the second level of the defense with ease.

Dawson’s last two years were marked by injury, and the Steelers did not draft their next center. Instead, in 2001, they targeted a free agent right guard from the Detroit Lions by the name of Jeff Hartings. Hartings had never played center in the NFL and was a two-time All-American guard at Penn State University, but the Steelers saw something in his game that they thought would make him a perfect fit at center. Their scouting proved to be right because Hartings flourished in the middle of the line, earning two Pro Bowls, two All-Pro honors and a Super Bowl Championship ring in 2005. Hartings’ time with the Steelers was short and sweet, but very memorable as he held down the middle of the offense for some excellent Pittsburgh Steelers teams. He retired in 2006 due to recurring knee problems, and his departure must have taken the Steelers a bit by surprise because they did not have a replacement plan.

The Steelers tried to plug the hole with a free agent center Sean Mahan. After a disastrous season and being traded only one year into a five-year contract, the Steelers picked up free agent center Justin Hartwig. Hartwig played two solid seasons in 2008 & 2009 winning a Super Bowl as the starting center.

The 2010 draft found the Steelers with a center prospect they could not ignore. The Steelers sights were set on college football’s Rimington Trophy winner for the top center in college football, and drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the first round, 18th overall. Pouncey started immediately and showed the league that he was both powerful and athletic both in the passing and running game. The athleticism for his size was unmatched and he earned nine Pro Bowls, five All-Pros, and was named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

With only seven starters in 45 years, the Steelers’ commitment to center is unquestioned. Webster and Dawson already sit in the Hall of Fame, and will most likely be joined by Pouncey in five years or so. The Steelers had a center on the All-Decade Teams for the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 10s. With Pouncey announcing his retirement, there is some doubt over who the next center of the Pittsburgh Steelers will be. One thing you can count on is the Steelers will not take replacing the team’s next great center lightly.

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SteelBuckeye

Well-known member
Pouncey is a HOFer? He was good, but HOF quality?
Named All-Pro six times … Voted to eight Pro Bowls … Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s …That's 2019 NFL HOF inductee Kevin Mawae. Pretty similar accolades. But then you take into account that Pouncey earned his stripes in 5 less seasons than Mawae (although Mawae only played Center for 14 of his 16 seasons).
 

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Drink IRON City

Contributor whining about a tag
I think Pounce is borderline HOF. He probably will squeeze in eventually.

THIS

Pouncy never seemed to change the game or anything new added. The article talks of his accolades but also adds in "for his size", HOFers don't have that needed or added to their description. Pouncy definitely was a very good "undersized" center who got a few Pro bowls by reputation. He may slip in as a HOFer with time but won't make it it first ballot.



Salute the nation
 

Coach

Well-known member
Pouncey is over rated. His best year could have been his rookie year, he got a rep and that was that. He could be over powered and his shot gun snapping sucked. In his prime he could pull, but we didn't see much or ay of that in his final years. No shot at the HOF.
 

Ike Kelly

P-38L Fan
Pouncey is over rated. His best year could have been his rookie year, he got a rep and that was that. He could be over powered and his shot gun snapping sucked. In his prime he could pull, but we didn't see much or ay of that in his final years. No shot at the HOF.

This will be remembered as another strike in player evaluation from Dumb Ass. Best year was his rookie year? He was voted All Pro 5 times AND to an All-Decade team genius. We may have a shiny new platform, but the smell of Coach’s stupidity still lingers.
 

Coach

Well-known member
Oh my Ike, your a broken clock. Maybe I'll archive some of your junk just to laugh at it later. Write this down. NO HALL OF FAME FOR POUNCEY. Just like I told you in the other forum about the punter ( Dickson ) we should have picked, now he has pro bowl ability. The day you show me something like that, projecting a 5th round pick to the pro bowl is the day I check my yard for buried treasure.

 

slashsteel

Well-known member
Oh my Ike, your a broken clock. Maybe I'll archive some of your junk just to laugh at it later. Write this down. NO HALL OF FAME FOR POUNCEY. Just like I told you in the other forum about the punter ( Dickson ) we should have picked, now he has pro bowl ability. The day you show me something like that, projecting a 5th round pick to the pro bowl is the day I check my yard for buried treasure.

That settled it, if cooch says no HOF you can lock Pounce in for his gold jacket. No need to archive any of your stupid ass shit cooch we know from point A to B stupidity will be by quickly.
 

Ron Burgundy

Well-known member
Guys on 93.7 saying the best center in this year's draft is the kid from Pitt but he is not first-round-worthy and we know how the Steelers feel about drafting players from Pitt, which is almost never. If he's there in the second round I'd grab him though.
 

F83

Well-known member
we might not need a HOF type just a reliable starter like Myers, Humprey, Hill all could come in an and do a better job than Pouncey only All pro potential hof player would be Dickerson.
 

F83

Well-known member
Guys on 93.7 saying the best center in this year's draft is the kid from Pitt but he is not first-round-worthy and we know how the Steelers feel about drafting players from Pitt, which is almost never. If he's there in the second round I'd grab him though.
heard Morrisey is more like 3-4 projection.
 

slashsteel

Well-known member
we might not need a HOF type just a reliable starter like Myers, Humprey, Hill all could come in an and do a better job than Pouncey only All pro potential hof player would be Dickerson.
He has All-IR potential too. You only think you know hot tub.
 

Punxsutawney

Well-known member
Named All-Pro six times … Voted to eight Pro Bowls … Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s …That's 2019 NFL HOF inductee Kevin Mawae. Pretty similar accolades. But then you take into account that Pouncey earned his stripes in 5 less seasons than Mawae (although Mawae only played Center for 14 of his 16 seasons).

How many of those accolades did he really deserve though?

He was named to the Probowl last year for God sake. The center on a team dead last in rushing.

He did indeed get a reputation from his rookie season that persisted throughout his career.

I agree with Coach in that his rookie season was probably his best season and he was never quite the same after that ankle injury. He also had a pretty significant injury late in his second season and had his knee shredded by Decastro in the 2013 season opener.

It's not to say he wasn't a really good player for a long time. He was, but I think all the injuries early on robbed him of reaching his full potential, and his overall value was inflated by the media.

In his prime, he was not as good Dawson, or even Jeff Hartings.
 

Ike Kelly

P-38L Fan
Oh my Ike, your a broken clock. Maybe I'll archive some of your junk just to laugh at it later. Write this down. NO HALL OF FAME FOR POUNCEY. Just like I told you in the other forum about the punter ( Dickson ) we should have picked, now he has pro bowl ability. The day you show me something like that, projecting a 5th round pick to the pro bowl is the day I check my yard for buried treasure.


Coach, anything you archive is a testament to your idiotic opinions and grammar errors/sentence fragments. So archive whatever you like. It would probably be beneficial to your intelligence too. Like taking notes on subjects you needed help in class.

The proclamation about a 5th round punter was in fact true, I’ll give you that, since you probably breast fed him when he was a kid. That’s the difference between you and everyone else, you feel you hit on a player in the fifth round (barely), when it was just luck. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut, and based on your documented record, the squirrel hasn’t starved to death.

Check your yard for buried treasure? Isn’t the water table only 12 inches from the ground line in Jacksonville? Living in those trailer parks isn’t a place to burying your valuables.
 

SteelBuckeye

Well-known member
How many of those accolades did he really deserve though?

He was named to the Probowl last year for God sake. The center on a team dead last in rushing.

He did indeed get a reputation from his rookie season that persisted throughout his career.

I agree with Coach in that his rookie season was probably his best season and he was never quite the same after that ankle injury. He also had a pretty significant injury late in his second season and had his knee shredded by Decastro in the 2013 season opener.

It's not to say he wasn't a really good player for a long time. He was, but I think all the injuries early on robbed him of reaching his full potential, and his overall value was inflated by the media.

In his prime, he was not as good Dawson, or even Jeff Hartings.
That's hard to say. It's also hard to say he didn't deserve them. The thing is, the folks who will be voting on the HOF are the same folks who gave him those accolades. Do you think they're going to say they were wrong?
Pouncey isn't a first ballot HOF'er. I foresee a Faneca type wait for him. But, since the Hall voters love them some "trappings", Pouncey will make it.
 

Cope

Podcast/ VidCast/ Writer
Pouncey was way more athletic than Hartings. You make the all decade teams when you are smashing guys at the fist level and the 2nd level. Hartings could never do that. He was best earlier in his career, but All-Pros are earned. Pro Bowls are rep.

Still I call him a lock, so I'm willing to bet Coach. What are the terms for Pouncey making the Hall?
 

Ike Kelly

P-38L Fan
Pouncey was way more athletic than Hartings. You make the all decade teams when you are smashing guys at the fist level and the 2nd level. Hartings could never do that. He was best earlier in his career, but All-Pros are earned. Pro Bowls are rep.

Still I call him a lock, so I'm willing to bet Coach. What are the terms for Pouncey making the Hall?
Permanent ban from posting?
 

Steeltime

Man of letters - F.U.
Guys on 93.7 saying the best center in this year's draft is the kid from Pitt but he is not first-round-worthy and we know how the Steelers feel about drafting players from Pitt, which is almost never. If he's there in the second round I'd grab him though.

I just don't think the Steelers can spend a 2nd round pick on a C, no matter how important. The team right now has no legit NFL starting RB, or LT, or NT, or TE.

The proclamation about a 5th round punter was in fact true, I’ll give you that, since you probably breast fed him when he was a kid. That’s the difference between you and everyone else, you feel you hit on a player in the fifth round (barely), when it was just luck. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut

I hear 'ya, but gotta give credit where credit is due. Coach called for the Steelers to draft a TE for his remarkable blocking abilities, getting the guy late. He was absolutely right, as that TE was such a good blocker he became an All-Pro LT: Jason Peters, who went undrafted in 2004.
 

Ike Kelly

P-38L Fan
I hear 'ya, but gotta give credit where credit is due. Coach called for the Steelers to draft a TE for his remarkable blocking abilities, getting the guy late. He was absolutely right, as that TE was such a good blocker he became an All-Pro LT: Jason Peters, who went undrafted in 2004.

I don’t recall Coach making any kind of proclamation about Peters. Nevertheless, if accurate he said TE, not LT. He was a UDFA and stashed on the PS. Played ST wedge buster as a rookie like Orpheus Roye in his his first couple seasons for Cowher. Peters then became a LT after hitting the weights at the pro level and being coached by Jimmy McNally, longtime coveted NFL OL coach (30 years) in the NFL at that time. After Peters won the starting RT job the Bills awarded him a 5 year contract (Donahoe?). When he got moved to LT during the season because of injury to the starter, that offseason he demanded a new contract. Sat out all offseason, generated half a million in fines and reported after preseason. He was then traded to Philly, who tore up his BUF contract and gave him a huge new one. He's continued to be a head case in Philly with his contract, has been ejected, suspended and been kinda injury prone. He’s missed, what? two full seasons and tore his knee up last year because of bad equip (using the wrong equip) he was working with.

I’ll give him Peters too if it’s true and the Punter, but for every nut he finds there are 50 Chickillos (future star), Greedy Williams (who he wanted in the 1st.) not to mention his world famous Polamalu Big Head argument. His record is no better than a chimp throwing darts at pictures of players on the wall.
 

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