As a kid growing up in south-central Pennsylvania, I wasn’t able to watch every Pittsburgh Steelers game. This was either due to the fact the game wasn’t broadcasted in the area (this was before Sunday Ticket) or I wasn’t allowed to stay up for Monday Night Football. Therefore, I was forced to sneak away with a tiny radio, tune into the Pittsburgh Steelers radio network, and got to know Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley, and the colorful and exuberant, Mr. Tunch Ilkin.
Ilkin announced his retirement from broadcasting to focus on his ALS treatments, and I figured it’d be fitting to say a simple, “thank you”.
“I have had 37 years in the NFL, with 14 as a player and the last 23 in broadcasting as the color analyst on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network, and I’ve decided to retire."
Tunch Ilkin has announced his retirement from broadcasting to focus on his treatment for ALS.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 3, 2021
Ilkin has been a staple in the Steelers family since 1980. He played offensive tackle under Chuck Noll before retiring from football to join Hillgrove and Myron Cope in the broadcasting booth in 1998. Ilkin has praised Cope for mentoring him and grooming him into the radio announcer we’ve grown to know and enjoy. As I have grown older and seen many Steelers players come and go, Ilkin in the booth has been the constant. I remember seeing him at training camps in Latrobe and multiple Fan Fests at Heinz Field. To me, listening to Ilkin on gamedays was as much as a ritual as putting on my favorite jersey.
When Ilkin announced his ALS diagnoses last October, my first feeling was sadness. But listening to Ilkin’s response, that sadness has turned into inspiration, strength, and courage. When he was diagnosed, Ilkin explained he will not give up or give into his sickness. Being a very spiritual man, Ilkin explained he will fight this disease with the help of God. “I’m not going to lie down and take this lightly”, he proclaimed.
Ilkin is going to have the power of God and all of Pittsburgh as he continues through this journey.
To the late-night Monday Night Football broadcasts, the exciting Super Bowl runs in 2005 and 2009, the regular season wins and losses, and to everything in between, I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated everything Ilkin brought to SteelerNation.
Thank you, Tunch.