Pittsburgh Steelers Team History: The Ultimate Breakdown

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The Steelers take the field for a 2020 game against the Browns.

The Steelers take the field for a 2020 game against the Browns.

Origins of the Steelers

The year was 1933 and a young Pittsburgh businessman named Arthur J. Rooney saw an opportunity before him. Only a year earlier, Pennsylvania’s archaic “blue laws” meant professional sports were banned on Sundays. Now, the Commonwealth was ready to relax those laws and open the door for NFL football in Pennsylvania.

The NFL wanted a franchise in Pittsburgh, and Rooney already owned a popular semi-pro football team called the J.P. Rooneys. For the price of $2,500, he applied for and was granted the rights to an NFL franchise in the Steel City.

That fall, the J.P. Rooneys took the field as the Pittsburgh Pirates, named after Pittsburgh’s Major League Baseball team. In 1940, Rooney changed the team's name one last time and the Pittsburgh Steelers were born.

Baseball was king in those days, and football was an afterthought. It is unlikely that Rooney could have envisioned what would become of his little team and how much football would change in the decades ahead.

The team only won three games during that first season, way back in 1933. The franchise would wait 10 seasons before finally posting a winning record in 1942, and for decades after that, they were among the basement dwellers of the NFL.

Today, the Steelers compete for first place in their division just about every year, and it is rare that they miss they playoffs. Since 1974, they have collected eight AFC titles and six Super Bowl championships.

It’s been a long, amazing journey, and it all started when a man named Art Rooney decided to take advantage of an opportunity.

In this article, you will learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Steelers, and possibly discover a few things you never even imagined. We’ll step back in time and review the biggest games and best players from every era of Steelers history, including:

  • The Early Years (1933–69): The Steelers struggle through decades of heartache and defeat as one of the worst teams in the NFL.
  • The Chuck Noll Era (1969–91): A new coach turns around a franchise and builds a dynasty with some of the greatest players in NFL history.
  • The Bill Cowher Era (1992–2006): Pittsburgh wins another Lombardi Trophy thanks to a hard-charging young coach and a new cast of iconic players.
  • The Mike Tomlin Era (2007–Present): The Steelers bring in yet another smart, young coach who leads the team to two more Super Bowls before the shadow of controversy falls over the Steel City.

Plus, you’ll find information on:

  • All-time franchise leaders in passing, rushing, receiving, and scoring.
  • Home stadiums through the years.
  • Officially (and unofficially) retired jersey numbers.
  • Steelers in the NFL Hall of Fame.
  • Steelers trivia and frequently asked questions.
  • The future of the Steelers.

Early Steelers History: 1933–69

It is hard to imagine today, but for the better part of their first four decades of existence, the Steelers were one of the worst teams in the NFL. From 1933 to '69, the Steelers only had five winning seasons and posted an overall record of 157 wins, 253 losses, and 18 ties. They made the playoffs only once (1947) and were quickly dispatched by the Eagles in a shutout.

But it was also during those early years that the team's tough reputation began to take shape. Even back in those days, teams knew they may beat the Steelers on the scoreboard, but it meant paying the price in bruises and blood.

As one would expect during such a tumultuous period, the Steelers saw a string of head coaches come through Pittsburgh, 13 in total prior to 1969. Only two left town with winning records: Jock Sutherland (13-9-1 from 1946 to '47) and Buddy Parker (51-47-6 from 1957 to '64).

Despite the losses on the field, the Steelers had their share of star players. Ernie Stautner was one of the most feared defensive linemen in the league. He made nine Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team from 1950 to '63, and today his No. 70 jersey is one of only two that have been officially retired by the Steelers.

John Henry Johnson was a hard-charging fullback who made three Pro Bowls as a Steeler in the 1960s. Despite spending only six of his 13 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh, he still finished his career as the team's fifth all-time leading rusher.

Defensive back Jack Butler played for the Steelers from 1951 to '59. He made four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams while intercepting 52 passes in his career.

Early Steelers history also holds one of the most interesting pieces of football trivia. During World War II, when most young men were fighting overseas, the Steelers realized they hadn't the personnel to field a squad. Most of the players they had left had either failed their draft physical or were too old to qualify for the service.

The Eagles had the same problem, and so they made a deal with the Steelers to combine teams for the 1943 season. The team became unofficially known as the Steagles and went 5-4-1, which was better than either team usually did on their own.

The next season the Steelers combined with the Cardinals and went 0–10, leading to the less-charming nickname "the Carpets," based on the Card-Pitt mashup.

Arthur J. Rooney, whom the players had come to affectionately refer to as "The Chief," endured a lot of heartache during those early years. But even the bad times can't last forever.

The Chief's world would change in 1969, when he hired a new head coach named Chuck Noll.

Best Seasons

  • 1942: 7–4, Did not make playoffs
  • 1947: 8–4, Lost NFL divisional playoff vs. Eagles
  • 1958: 7-4-1, Did not make playoffs
  • 1962: 9–5, Did not make playoffs
  • 1963: 7-4-3, Did not make playoffs

Best Players

  • Ernie Stautner: Defensive Tackle, 1950–63
  • Bobby Layne: Quarterback, 1958–62
  • Jack Butler: Defensive Back, 1951–59
  • John Henry Johnson: Running Back, 1960–65
  • Bill Dudley: Running Back, 1942, 1945–46
  • Buddy Dial: Wide Receiver, 1959–63
  • Elbie Nickel: End, 1947–57
Statue of Steelers Founder Art Rooney at Heinz Field

Statue of Steelers Founder Art Rooney at Heinz Field

Steelers' All-Time Rushing Leaders

PlayerYearsYardsAverage YPCTouchdowns

Franco Harris

1972–83

11,950

4.1

91

Jerome Bettis

1996–2005

10,571

3.9

78

Willie Parker

2004–09

5,378

4.3

24

Le'Veon Bell

2013–17

5,336

4.3

35

John Henry Johnson

1960–65

4,381

4.4

26

Chuck Noll Era: 1969–91

Chuck Noll was a former NFL player for the Browns who had been a member of two NFL championship teams. More importantly, he had served on the Colts' staff under Don Shula and had coached in the Super Bowl.

Still, there was no reason for expectations to be any higher for Noll than they were for any of the previous 13 coaches. The Steelers went 1–13 in Noll's first year, their worst record of all time.

Although they seemed like the same old Steelers during Noll's first season, changes were brewing. In his first NFL draft, Noll had chosen a future Hall of Fame defensive tackle from North Texas State named Joe Greene. Greene was nasty on the field, hated to lose, and quickly established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the league.

In 1970, Noll drafted Terry Bradshaw (the quarterback who would one day lead the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories) and Mel Blount (one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history).

The next year, Noll brought in Penn State linebacker Jack Ham, another future NFL Hall of Famer. Noll added fullback Franco Harris in 1972, a Penn State alum who would become the NFL's third all-time leading rusher before he retired.

But it was the legendary 1974 draft where Noll put the finishing touches on one of the most dominant NFL teams of all time and chose four eventual Hall of Famers in five draft rounds. In the first round, he took USC wide receiver Lynn Swann. In the second, Kent State linebacker Jack Lambert. In the fourth, it was Alabama A&M wide receiver John Stallworth, and in the fifth, center Mike Webster from Wisconsin.

Chuck Noll rightfully gets credit for some of the smartest drafting decisions in NFL history, but he wasn't working alone. By 1969, Art Rooney's son Dan was serving as the team's general manager and had an influence over Noll's choices. Dan Rooney, along with the Steelers' scouting team, was a key part of the Steelers' success in the '70s.

The concept of building a team through the draft paid off by Noll's fifth season. On Jan. 12, 1975, the Steelers won their first Super Bowl, defeating the Vikings and finally presenting the Chief with the NFL championship he had been waiting for since 1933.

The Steelers repeated the feat in 1975, and again in 1978, and again in 1979. They only had four winning seasons and one playoff appearance to their credit in their previous 36 years of existence, but now the Pittsburgh Steelers had posted eight winning seasons and won four Super Bowl championships during Noll's first 11 years.

Noll had turned the Steelers into a dynasty—the team of the '70s. But the good times can't last forever. By the early '80s, the team had begun to dismantle, with many of the players of the Super Bowl years shuffling off to retirement.

The Steelers remained competitive under Noll for most of the 1980s, but could not recapture the Super Bowl magic of the previous decade. Noll retired from coaching after the 1991 season with a record of 193-148-1.

Art Rooney, the Chief, had passed away in 1988 at the age of 87. He had lived to see his beloved Steelers bring four Super Bowl championships home to Pittsburgh and grow into one of the most famous professional sports teams in the world.

Best Seasons

  • 1972: 11–3, Lost AFC championship vs. Dolphins
  • 1974: 10-3-1, Won Super Bowl IX vs. Vikings
  • 1975: 12–2, Won Super Bowl X vs. Cowboys
  • 1976: 10–4, Lost AFC championship vs. Raiders
  • 1978: 14–2, Won Super Bowl XIII vs. Cowboys
  • 1979: 12–4, Won Super Bowl XIV vs. Rams
  • 1984: 9–7, Lost AFC championship vs. Dolphins

Best Players

  • Joe Greene: Defensive Tackle, 1969–81
  • Terry Bradshaw: Quarterback, 1970–83
  • Jack Lambert: Linebacker, 1974–84
  • Franco Harris: Running Back, 1972–83
  • Mel Blount: Cornerback, 1970–83
  • Jack Ham: Linebacker, 1971–82
  • Mike Webster: Center, 1974–88
  • Lynn Swann: Wide Receiver, 1974–82
  • John Stallworth: Wide Receiver, 1974–87
  • Andy Russell: Linebacker, 1968–75
  • Rocky Bleier: Running Back, 1968–80
  • L.C.Greenwood: Defensive End, 1969–81
  • Donnie Shell: Defensive Back, 1974–87
  • Rod Woodson: Cornerback, 1987–96
  • Carnell Lake: Defensive Back, 1989–99
  • Louis Lipps: Wide Receiver, 1984–91

Steelers' All-Time Passing Leaders

*Stats last updated prior to the 2020 season.

PlayerYearsYardsCmp %TouchdownsInterceptions

Ben Roethlisberger

2004–Present*

56,545

64.3

363

191

Terry Bradshaw

1970–83

27,989

51.9

212

210

Kordell Stewart

1995–2002

13,328

56.5

70

72

Neil O'Donnell

1991–95

12,867

57.1

68

39

Bubby Brister

1986–92

10,104

52.2

51

57

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' all-time leading passer.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' all-time leading passer.

Bill Cowher Era: 1992–2006

It is an understatement to suggest that Bill Cowher had some big shoes to fill when he signed up for the head coaching position in Pittsburgh. His predecessor was a legend who had turned the Steelers from perennial losers to four-time champs.

Like Noll, Cowher was a former player for the Browns as well as the Eagles. He had put in three years as defensive coordinator for the Chiefs, and at only 35 years of age, the Rooneys had chosen him as the man to lead the Steelers into the '90s.

Cowher's Steelers got off to a fast start in 1992. They won the division with an 11–5 record, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Still, it was enough to convince Steeler Nation that this new guy just might know what he's doing.

By 1994, the Steelers had returned to the AFC championship game, their first since 1984. Pittsburgh lost a heartbreaker to San Diego, but came back again in 1995. This time, they defeated the Colts and punched their ticket for Super Bowl XXX. They lost to the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, but Cowher had returned the Steelers to their former glory.

Cowher guided the Steelers to three more AFC championships in 1997, 2001, and 2004, before finally winning the Super Bowl in 2005. Along the way, he had built a roster of some of the best Steelers of all time, including a few who rival the greats of the '70s.

In 1996, the Steelers traded for running back Jerome Bettis, who had worn out his welcome with the Rams. The rumour was he had an attitude problem, but that never materialized in Pittsburgh. Instead, he went on to a Hall of Fame career where he finished as one of the NFL's all-time leading rushers. During the Super Bowl run of 2005, he became the ultimate teammate and mentor to running back Willie Parker, who had taken over his starting role.

In 1998, the Steelers drafted Hines Ward from the University of Georgia, a wide receiver who had also played tailback and quarterback. He went on to become the leading receiver in Steelers history.

In 2003, Pittsburgh drafted Troy Polamalu, a safety from USC. In 2004, they took a quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger from Miami University (of Ohio).

In 2004, they signed James Harrison, a player who had been cut three previous times by the Steelers and once by Ravens. Harrison became a starter in 2007 and won defensive player of the year in 2008.

But by 2006, Cowher had retired to spend time with his family. He is beloved by Steelers fans to this day, many of whom would love to see him return to the sidelines.

Best Seasons:

  • 1994: 12–4, Lost AFC championship vs. Chargers
  • 1995: 11–5, Lost Super Bowl XXX vs. Cowboys
  • 1997: 11–5, Lost AFC championship vs. Broncos
  • 2001: 13–3, Lost AFC championship vs. Patriots
  • 2004: 15–1, Lost AFC championship vs. Patriots
  • 2005: 11–5, Won Super Bowl XL vs. Seahawks

Best Players:

  • Rod Woodson: Cornerback, 1987–96
  • Carnell Lake: Defensive Back, 1989–99
  • Greg Lloyd: Linebacker, 1988–97
  • Troy Polamalu: Safety, 2003–14
  • Jerome Bettis: Running Back, 1996–2005
  • Ben Roethlisberger: Quarterback, 2004–Present
  • Hines Ward: Wide Receiver, 1998–2011
  • Dermontti Dawson: Center, 1988–2000
  • Alan Faneca: Guard, 1998–2007
  • James Harrison: Linebacker, 2002–12, 2014–16
  • Antwaan Randle El: Wide Receiver, 2002–05, 2010
  • Joey Porter: Linebacker, 1999–2006
  • Casey Hampton: Nose Tackle, 2001–12
  • Kevin Greene: Linebacker, 1993–95
  • Willie Parker: Running Back, 2004–09
  • Heath Miller: Tight End, 2005–15
Hines Ward is the Steelers' all-time leading receiver.

Hines Ward is the Steelers' all-time leading receiver.

Steelers' All-Time Receiving Leaders

PlayerYearsReceptionsYardsTouchdowns

Hines Ward

1998–2011

1,000

12,083

85

Antonio Brown

2010–18

837

11,207

74

Heath Miller

2005–15

592

6,569

45

John Stallworth

1974–87

537

8,723

63

Louis Lipps

1984–91

358

6,018

39

Mike Tomlin Era: 2007–Present

Mike Tomlin came to the Steelers after serving as defensive coordinator for the Vikings. He inherited a strong team that included quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Hines Ward and safety Troy Polamalu.

Expectations were high, and Tomlin did not disappoint. In his first year, the Steelers posted a 10–6 record and won the AFC North. The following year, Tomlin took the team straight to the Super Bowl and defeated the Cardinals 27–23. In only his second year as head coach, Mike Tomlin had brought another Lombardi Trophy to the Steel City.

The Steelers returned to the Super Bowl in 2010, only to lose to the Packers. Since then, Tomlin’s Steelers have returned to the AFC championship game only once and lost to the Patriots.

In many ways, Mike Tomlin’s coaching career has been marked by extremes. He has never had a losing season, and his winning percentage is best among any coach in Steelers history. On the other hand, under Tomlin, the Steelers have consistently underperformed in the biggest games.

It hasn’t helped that some of Tomlin's players have brought unwanted drama to a franchise that has historically done a great job of avoiding it. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell held out for a better contract in 2018, refusing to play under the franchise tag and leaving the team guessing each week as to when or if he would return. He eventually missed the whole season, costing himself over $14 million.

The behaviors of wide receiver Antonio Brown were a recurring problem, as well. In 2016, he broadcast footage of the team’s locker room on Facebook, a violation of NFL rules. In 2017, he threw a tantrum on the Steelers’ sideline when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t throw him the ball. In 2018, the All-Pro receiver skipped practices without permission, leading to Tomlin benching him for a game.

Among Steelers fans and sports pundits, suspicions persisted that Tomlin had lost the locker room and had not done enough to stop toxic behavior from impacting the team’s play on the field. Brown and Bell both departed Pittsburgh following the 2018 season.

In many ways, the 2019 season seems like a watershed moment in Steelers history. The #FireTomlin hashtag trends on Twitter whenever the Steelers lose, and some fans would love to see a shakeup in the coaching ranks. But there is no denying that Mike Tomlin is a proven winner who is dedicated to Steeler football, and it is hard to imagine who would replace him.

Best Seasons

  • 2008: 12–4, Won Super Bowl XLIII vs. Cardinals
  • 2010: 12–4, Lost Super Bowl XLV vs. Packers
  • 2015: 10–6, Lost divisional playoff vs. Broncos
  • 2016: 11–5, Lost AFC championship vs. Patriots
  • 2017: 13–3, Lost divisional playoff vs. Jaguars

Best Players

  • Ben Roethlisberger: Quarterback, 2004–Present
  • Troy Polamalu: Safety, 2003–14
  • Hines Ward: Wide Receiver, 1998–2011
  • Antonio Brown: Wide Receiver, 2010–18
  • Le'veon Bell: Running Back, 2013–17
  • James Harrison: Linebacker, 2002–12, 2014–16
  • Maurkice Pouncey: Center, 2010–Present
  • Casey Hampton: Nose Tackle, 2001–12
  • David DeCastro: Guard, 2012–Present
  • Willie Parker: Running Back, 2004–09
  • Heath Miller: Tight End, 2005–15
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster: Wide Receiver, 2017–Present
  • T.J. Watt: Linebacker, 2017–Present

Steelers' All-Time Scoring Leaders

PlayerYearsPointsField GoalsExtra PointsRushing TouchdownsReceiving Touchdowns

Gary Anderson

1982–94

1,343

309

416

0

0

Jeff Reed

2002–10

919

204

307

0

0

Roy Gerela

1971–78

731

146

293

0

0

Franco Harris

1972–83

600

0

0

91

9

Sean Suisham

2010–14

545

124

173

0

0

Steelers Stadium History

Here is a quick look at the stadiums the Steelers have called home over the years.

Heinz Field

Heinz Field is the current home of the Steelers. It is named after an iconic Pittsburgh business, the H.J. Heinz Company. Yes, the people who make the ketchup. While Heinz Field is designed as a football stadium, it also hosts other sporting events and even rock concerts.

  • Years of Operation: 2001–Present
  • Seating Capacity: 68,400
  • Surface: Natural grass
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Pitt Panthers (NCAA football)
  • Status: Currently in operation

Three Rivers Stadium

Three Rivers Stadium was a multi-purpose facility designed for both football and baseball, as well as other uses. Many such stadiums were built around the same time, and most featured artificial turf. The stadium got its name from the confluence of rivers that occurs at Pittsburgh, where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio River.

  • Years of Operation: 1970–2000
  • Seating Capacity: 59,600
  • Surface: Tartan Turf/Astro Turf
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB), Pitt Panthers (2000 season)
  • Status: Demolished in 2001

Pitt Stadium

Pitt Stadium was home of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team and other athletic programs. The Steelers used the stadium sporadically from 1958 to 1963, and full-time from 1964 to '69.

  • Years of Operation: 1925–99
  • Seating Capacity: 56,150 (though originally designed to hold 69,400)
  • Surface: Natural grass (1925–69), artificial turf (1970–99)
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1958–69*), Pitt Panthers, Carnegie Tech Tartans (1929–43)
  • Status: Demolished in 1999

Forbes Field

Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates of MLB and the Pitt Panthers football team. When Art Rooney founded the Steelers (then the Pirates) in 1933, they played their home games at Forbes. The Steelers played at Forbes Field from 1933 to '58 and then split their time between Forbes and Pitt Stadium until 1970.

  • Years of Operation: 1909–70
  • Seating Capacity: 41,000
  • Surface: Natural grass
  • Resident Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1933–63*), Pittsburgh Pirates (1909–70), Pitt Panthers (1909–24)
  • Status: Demolished in 1971

*From 1958 to '63, the Steelers split time between Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium.

Steelers Super Bowl Appearances

Super BowlDateOpponentOutcomeScore

IX

Jan. 12, 1975

Vikings

W

16–6

X

Jan. 18, 1976

Cowboys

W

21–17

XIII

Jan. 21, 1979

Cowboys

W

35–31

XIV

Jan. 20, 1980

Rams

W

31–19

XXX

Jan. 28, 1996

Cowboys

L

17–27

XL

Feb. 5, 2006

Seahawks

W

21–10

XLIII

Feb. 1, 2009

Cardinals

W

27–23

XLV

Feb. 6, 2011

Packers

L

25–31

Steelers Retired Numbers

The Steelers rarely retire jersey numbers. In fact, only two players in Steelers history have had their numbers officially retired by the team.

  • Ernie Stautner (No. 70): Defensive Tackle, 1950–63
  • Joe Greene (No. 75): Defensive Tackle, 1969–81

However, there is a long list of numbers the Steelers do not issue. Though their status with the Steelers is uncertain, in the eyes of fans, it is obvious that these jerseys are "unofficially" retired. It is unlikely we will see any player wearing them again.

Steelers List of Unofficially Retired Numbers

NumberPlayerPositionYears

1

Gary Anderson

Kicker

1982–94

12

Terry Bradshaw

Quarterback

1970–83

32

Franco Harris

Running Back

1972–83

36

Jerome Bettis

Running Back

1996–2005

43

Troy Polamalu

Safety

2003–14

47

Mel Blount

Cornerback

1970–83

52

Mike Webster

Center

1974–88

58

Jack Lambert

Linebacker

1974–84

59

Jack Ham

Linebacker

1971–82

63

Dermontti Dawson

Center

1988–2000

86

Hines Ward

Wide Receiver

1998–2011

Steelers fans wave their Terrible Towels in the first half of a 2019 game against the Cardinals.

Steelers fans wave their Terrible Towels in the first half of a 2019 game against the Cardinals.

Steelers FAQs

Learn more about the Steelers and find the answers to many frequently asked questions.

Who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Art Rooney (a Pittsburgh athlete and businessman) founded the Steelers in 1933 when he purchased an NFL franchise for $2,500. He already owned a semi-pro football team and had the personnel in place to start a new NFL team.

Rooney passed away in 1988. Years earlier, he had handed his role as team president to his son, Dan, who in turn passed it to current team president Art Rooney II in 2002. While the Steelers have other investors today, the Rooney family has always maintained majority ownership and control of the franchise.

How did the Steelers get their name?

Early NFL football teams often took on the names and colors of their city’s MLB team. Accordingly, the Steelers were first called the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rooney changed the name to Steelers in 1940 in hopes of establishing a new identity for the team and honoring the region's steel-producing history. They kept the colors black and gold, which today represent all three of Pittsburgh’s major pro sports teams.

What is the history behind the Steelers logo?

The Steelers logo is based on the Steelmark, which was created by U.S. Steel and is owned by the American Iron and Steel Institute. The Steelers wore the Steelmark on one side of their helmets for the 1962 season and went 9–5, their best season in team history to that point. Hoping to hold onto that good luck, the Steelers kept the logo and requested permission to change the text from "Steel" to "Steelers."

How many times have the Steelers made the playoffs?

The Steelers have made the NFL playoffs 31 times since their first year of operation in 1933. However, from the years 1933 to 1972, they only made the playoffs once (1947) and lost to the Eagles.

The rest of those playoff appearances have been in the years since 1972. Now, they have a playoffs record of 36–24 and have won eight AFC championships and six Super Bowls.

Which Super Bowls have the Steelers competed in?

The Steelers have appeared in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV, XXX, XL, XLIII, and XLV.

Who are the Steelers’ major rivals?

The Steelers compete in the AFC North division, which means their major rivals are the Ravens, Browns, and Bengals. The Steelers play each of these teams twice per year, not including any playoffs meetings.

  • Steelers vs. Ravens: The Ravens are the Steelers' biggest rival in the NFL. They are both tough teams from old-school NFL towns, and they compete for first place in the AFC North almost every year. As of Nov. 1, 2020, the Steelers lead the all-time series, 29–24.
  • Steelers vs. Browns: A two-and-a-half-hour bus ride separates the cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, making the Steelers-Browns rivalry a little more personal than most. The two teams have clashed since 1950, and as of Nov. 1, 2020, the Steelers hold a 77-59-1 lead.
  • Steelers vs. Bengals: The Bengals have faced the Steelers in division competition since 1970, and the two teams have met in some bitterly fought contests. As of Nov. 1, 2020, the Steelers have the lead in 101 regular-season games by a score of 66–35.

Who is the best player In Steelers’ history?

Many fans and football experts regard Joe Greene as the greatest Steeler of all time. Greene was a dominant defensive tackle who played from 1969 to '81. In his 13-year career, he was voted to the Pro Bowl 10 times and the All-Pro team four times. He won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969, and Defensive Player of the Year in '72 and '74.

The Steelers won four Super Bowls in the '70s, largely due to Greene and the Steel Curtain Defense. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Steelers made him only the second player in team history whose jersey they officially retired in 2014.

What is the Steel Curtain?

Pittsburgh's defense earned the nickname "The Steel Curtain" in the 1970s as a play on words that emphasized their dominance. This was the time of the Cold War, and events in the USSR were said to occur behind the "Iron Curtain," which was impenetrable for westerners. Since the Steelers defense was often impenetrable for opponents, and Pittsburgh is known for steel production, the moniker seemed a good fit.

What is the Terrible Towel?

The Terrible Towel is literally a towel that Steelers fans wave at games to rally the team. While the markings have changed over the years, official versions have always featured the logo “Terrible Towel” on one side. Most versions are Steelers gold in color, but some are black. Modern Terrible Towels include the phrase “Myron Cope’s Official Terrible Towel.”

Myron Cope was a radio announcer and the voice of the Steelers from 1970 to 2005. Back in '75, he encouraged fans to bring gold or black towels to a playoff game to help rally the team. He called them Terrible Towels, and the idea was a big hit. In 1978, the Towel was mass produced with premade logos and sold in Gimbels department store, as the store had grown tired of selling only one hand towel and breaking up sets of gold towels.

What is Steeler Nation?

Steelers fans worldwide are collectively referred to as Steeler Nation (or Steelers Nation). There is no official governing body, and the only thing required of members is to support the Steelers. In fact, Steeler Nation supports the Steelers so well that the fanbase has become renowned for their presence at Pittsburgh's away games. At most opponents' stadiums, it is easy to spot black and gold in the stands and Terrible Towels flying proudly when the Steelers take the field.

Where do the Steelers hold training camp?

Since 1966, the Steelers have held training camp at Saint Vincent College in LaTrobe, Pennsylvania. On campus stands a residence hall named after Art Rooney, which the Steelers use during camp.

What is the mascot for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

The Steelers’ mascot is Steely McBeam! Steely is a hard-working steel man who wears a Steelers hard hat, flannel shirt, and black-and-gold Steelers overalls. If his squared, stubbled jaw doesn’t convince you of his toughness, the fact that he attends games whilst carrying a steel beam on his shoulder ought to.

Steely has earned mixed reactions from Steeler Nation since his arrival in 2007.

Do the Steelers have cheerleaders?

Today, the Steelers are one of a handful of NFL teams that do not have official cheerleaders, but that wasn’t always so. From 1961 to '69, the Pittsburgh Steelerettes graced the sidelines of Steelers games. The ladies hailed from nearby Robert Morris Junior College, a school without a football team. But by 1970, interest in the cheerleading squad had waned, and the Steelers disbanded them.

Steelers Players in the NFL Hall of Fame

* Primary inductees, meaning players who made all or most of their significant contributions to pro football while with the Steelers.

NameYear InductedPositionYear With Steelers

John McNally

1963

Running Back

1934, 1937–38

Cal Hubbard

1963

Tackle, End, Guard, Defensive Line

1936

Bill Dudley*

1966

Halfback

1942, 1945–46

Walt Kiesling

1966

Guard/Tackle

1937–38

Bobby Layne*

1967

Quarterback

1958–62

Marion Motley

1968

Running Back

1955

Ernie Stautner*

1969

Defensive Tackle

1950–63

Joe Greene*

1987

Defensive Tackle

1961–81

John Henry Johnson*

1987

Running Back

1960–65

Len Dawson

1987

Quarterback

1957–59

Jack Ham*

1988

Linebacker

1971–82

Mel Blount*

1989

Cornerback

1970–83

Terry Bradshaw*

1989

Quarterback

1970–83

Franco Harris*

1990

Running Back

1972–83

Jack Lambert*

1990

Linebacker

1974–84

Mike Webster*

1997

Center

1974–88

Lynn Swann*

2001

Wide Receiver

1974–82

John Stallworth*

2002

Wide Receiver

1974–87

Rod Woodson*

2009

Cornerback

1987–96

Jack Butler*

2012

Defensive Back

1951–59

Dermontti Dawson*

2012

Center

1988–2000

Kevin Greene

2016

Linebacker

1993–95

Jerome Bettis*

2017

Running Back

1996–2005

The Future of the Steelers

Every football franchise goes through good times and bad. As a fan, it is hard to remember how bad things can be when your team is winning. And vice versa.

Thanks to free agency, salary caps, and the parity the NFL alleges the system should achieve, we should expect that any team has a chance to rise to Super Bowl greatness. But it only takes a quick look around the league to realize that this isn't so.

What makes a team like the Patriots so dominant year after year? Why do teams like the Browns struggle so much?

There is something else to it—some way of management, or coaching, or understanding people—that leads a franchise to greatness. This is what the Steelers lacked during their first four decades of existence. Then, in the 1970s, they found the magic formula and have been contenders ever since.

Steeler Nation has been spoiled over the years, but it is important to remember the history that has led us to this point. Be grateful for every winning season and soak in every Super Bowl as though it could be the last. As the Chief might tell us if he were alive today, fortunes in the NFL can change with the wind.