The Pittsburgh Steelers have the richest tradition of any team in the history of the NFL. This verdict holds especially true for the linebacker position, as some of the game’s best ever in the middle of the defense came from Pittsburgh. Jack Lambert and Jack Ham began that tradition in the 1970s, and there’s been plenty elite Steelers linebackers since.
.@TomPelissero's Top 5 Underrated LBs of All-Time!
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— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) June 14, 2022
A Steeler found his way onto the list, James Farrior. Steeler Nation should LOVE this inclusion by Pelissero, as Farrior became a Steelers legend in his 10 seasons in black and gold. This is a fitting designation for him, as he was an unsung hero of the elite defenses in Pittsburgh in the 2000’s.
As we know, the Steelers do not typically look to free agency for roster reinforcements. The front office typically avoids spending money on guys outside the organization, instead focusing on improving the roster through the NFL draft. In 2002, they signed Farrior three-year, $5.4 million deal in free agency, a bit uncharacteristic by their standards.
Nowadays, this is a deal that would be made for s fourth-string linebacker that is a core special teamer. Then, the Steelers brought him in to be a key contributor in the middle of their defense. He had spent the first five seasons of his career with the New York Jets after they picked him eighth overall in the 1997 NFL Draft. While he was successful with the Jets, he made his name known in his time with the Steelers.
Over the years, to no discredit of his, availability became the best trait of Farrior. This is the most important thing in football, to simply stay on the field. In 10 seasons with the Steelers, he missed just six regular season games. Farrior played at least 14 games in all 10 seasons, and he started all 154 games. He started 15 of 16 playoff games as well, as the one non-start came in his opening season in Pittsburgh. Farrior helped lead them to two Super Bowls in his time.
The 2004 season was easily Farrior’s best, as he earned a Pro Bowl selection, one of two total in his career. He also finished second in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, just narrowly edged by Baltimore Ravens safety, Ed Reed. Farrior had 95 total tackles, four interceptions, nine tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three sacks, and three fumble recoveries en route to his lone First Team All-Pro selection. His other Pro Bowl selection came in 2008, as he earned a Second Team All-Pro selection as well.
In essence, it’s nice to see a guy like Farrior get some well-deserved praise. Former guys such as Troy Polamalu and James Harrison will always be the face of those Steelers defenses back in the day and rightfully so. With that being said, guys like Farrior sometimes get lost in the shuffle and don’t receive enough credit. While he wasn’t exactly elite enough for the Hall of Fame, he was still a very good player in his day. In fact, he’d be perfect on the modern-day Steelers alongside Myles Jack (or Devin Bush).
How nice would it be for Farrior to be on the modern-day Steelers? Did Pelissero miss any names or any former Steelers? If so, who? Do you agree with the other guys on the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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