The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most successful franchises in the history of pro sports: one of the most Super Bowl-winning teams ever, as well as one of the most represented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Over the past nine decades, fans have bid farewell to many Steelers greats. In this historical tribute gallery, we honor and remember 17 heroes of the black & gold.
Mike Webster (1952 – 2002)
Mike Webster was known as “Iron Mike,” a tough-nosed player who most consider to be the greatest center in NFL history. He was one of the leaders of the 1970s Steelers, who won four Super Bowls. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Webster struggled with brain issues after his career; he was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed post death with CTE.
Sam Davis (1944–2019)
Sam Davis was a valuable offensive left guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their 1970s dynasty years, winning four Super Bowls.
Dwight White (1949 – 2008)
Defensive end Dwight White was nicknamed “Mad Dog” for his intensity on the field. A member of the Steelers “Steel Curtain” defense that led the team to four Super Bowl victories, he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the Steelers All-Time team.
Ernie Holmes (1948 – 2008)
Ernie Holmes was a tough defensive tackle who was part of the legendary “Steel Curtain”defense of the 1970s. He won two Super Bowls and was an All-Pro in 1974.
Ray Mansfield (1941 – 1996)
Steelers legendary center Ray Mansfield (#56) was the team’s starting center from 1966 until 1976, winning two Super Bowls. He mentored Hall of Fame center Mike Webster who took over for him after he retired.
Joe Gilliam (1950 – 2000)
Joe Gilliam won the starting quarterback spot at the start of the 1974 season, beating out Terry Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty in an open competition. He was the first African-American quarterback to start a season opener since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Gilliam was benched after six games for not following coach Chuck Noll’s gameplan and inconsistent perfromance. Bradshaw took over as starting quarterback and led the team to their first Super Bowl win.
Jim Clack (1947 – 2006)
Offensive lineman Jim Clack played for the Steelers from 1970 until 1977 and was part of the Steelers’ first two Super Bowl wins.
Chuck Noll (1932 – 2014)
Chuck Noll was the legendary head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who led the team to four Super Bowl victories. Noll’s squad won Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. Noll was the head coach of the Steelers from 1969-91 and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Dan Rooney (1932 – 2017)
Dan Rooney was the son of Steelers founder Art Rooney. He worked in the “family business” in various postions, moving from General Manager to President and becoming team owner after the death of his father Art in 1988. He was responsible for the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which states that teams must interview at least one minority candidate for open head coach and general manager postions. Today, his son Art Rooney II is the controlling owner of the Steelers.
Art Rooney (1901 – 1988)
Art Rooney was the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, paying a $2,500 franchise fee to start a team in Pittsburgh in 1933. He was a minor league baseball player, semi-pro football player, and boxer before starting the Steelers.
Steve Courson (1955 – 2005)
Steve Courson was an offensie lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1978 until 1983, winning two Super Bowls. He was one of the first NFL players to admit using steroids and he regulary gave speeches to college and high school football programs warning them that they were dangerous. Courson died at 50 when he cut down a large tree on his property and a gust of wind changed the direction of the fall. Courson moved into its path to protect his black lab. When he was found, his dog was guarding his body.
Myron Cope (1929 – 2008)
Myron Cope was “the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.” He retired in June 2005 after 35 years as the Steelers’ radio analyst. Cope was honored as the 2005 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
Elbie Nickel (1922 – 2007)
Elbie Nickel was one of the greatest tight ends in Steelers history. Playing for the team from 1947 until 1957, he caught 329 passes in an era known for running the football. He was selected for the Steelers All-Time team.
L.C. Greenwood (1946 – 2013)
L.C. Greenwood was a star defensive end on the 1970s “Steel Curtain” defense who helped lead the team to four Super Bowl victories. L.C. was a six time Pro Bowl selection who was selected to the Steelers All-Time team.
Ernie Stautner (1925 – 2006)
Ernie Stautner was a legendary hard playing defensive tackle for the Steelers who played his entire career with the team from 1950 until 1963. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Justin Strzelczyk (1968 – 2004)
Justin Strzelczyk played all nine seasons of his NFL career at offensive tackle for the Steelers from 1990 until 1998. Following his NFL career, he died when he was driving in the wrong lane at excessive speed while being chased by the police and he hit a truck. A post-death autopsy revealed he had suffered brain damage during his football career.
Jack Butler (1927 – 2013)
Jack Butler was signed by the Steelers in 1951 as a free agent out of St. Bonaventure University in Western New York. He was recommended by Art Rooney’s brother Dan, who was a priest at the college. Butler became a force at defensive back; he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Carlton Haselrig (1966 – 2020)
Carlton Haselrig was a former pro bowl guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers who is the only wrestler ever to win six national championships.