6 Pittsburgh Steelers Inexplicably Snubbed by the Hall of Fame

Eric Dockett

pittsburgh-steelers-hall-of-fame-snubs
Will Hines Ward make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest Steelers Hall of Fame Snubs

Every football fan wants to see their favorite teams players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. When beloved players are inducted, it is a source of pride for the entire franchise. For the player, it is the ultimate honor.

Pittsburgh fans dont have a lot to complain about when it comes to the Hall of Fame, as there are 30 former Steelers players, coaches and contributors enshrined. Then again, there are a few cases that make you wonder what in the heck is going on over there in Canton. Some great Steelers get snubbed year after year, even though they clearly have what it takes for Hall of Fame induction.

So what can you do about it? You can write articles like this one, for starters. Here are the worst Steelers Hall of Fame snubs. Ive broken my list into two parts.

  • In the first section, Ive listed six Steelers who should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but havent made it yet. Maybe they will get there eventually, or maybe not, but it is hard to argue they arent deserving.
  • The second section is more like honorable mentions. These Steelers were great in their time and, while it would be wonderful to see them enshrined in the Hall of Fame, they probably don't have the necessary resumes.

This article could have been longer had a few deserving Steelers not made the cut recently. Steelers head coach Bill Cowher (19922006) and safety Donnie Shell (197487) joined their fellow Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, along with safety Troy Polamalu (200314), who got in on his first ballot.

List of Steelers Hall of Fame Snubs

Player
Position
Year Retired
All-Pro Teams
Pro Bowls
Super Bowl Championships

Gary Anderson

Kicker

2004

1

4

0

Greg Lloyd

Linebacker

1998

3

5

0

Andy Russell

Linebacker

1976

0

7

2

Hines Ward

Wide Receiver

2011

0

4

2

Alan Faneca

Guard

2010

6

9

1

L.C. Greenwood

Defensive End

1981

2

6

4

6. Gary Anderson

It is tough to make the Hall of Fame as a kicker. There are only two pure placekickers enshrined in Canton: Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud. (George Blanda kicked but also played quarterback, and Lou Groza played tackle.)

Morten Andersen was a contemporary of Gary Anderson, and they were probably the two best kickers in the league during their time. Comparing Gary to Morten gives us the greatest argument for Gary Andersons induction into the Hall of Fame.

  • Gary Anderson played for 23 seasons in the NFL. Morten played 25, but he was injured for most of his rookie year.
  • Gary scored 2,434 points in his career, only 110 behind Mortens career total of 2,544.
  • Gary made one All-Pro team and four Pro Bowls, where Morten made three All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls.
  • Gary has a career field goal accuracy percentage of 80.1% where Mortens is 79.7%.

Looking at the above stats, it seems like if Morten Andersen is in the Hall of Fame, Gary Anderson should at least merit consideration. Unfortunately, he has never even been a finalist.

Jersey Number: 1

Position: Kicker

Years as a Steeler: 198294

Career Statistics

  • 197 games
  • 672 field goal attempts
  • 80.1% field goals made
  • 827 extra point attempts
  • 99.2% extra points made
  • 2,434 career points scored

Career Accolades:

  • 1 All-Pro team
  • 4 Pro Bowls
pittsburgh-steelers-hall-of-fame-snubs
Greg Lloyd was a five-time Pro Bowler for the Steelers.© H. DARR BEISER, USAT, USA TODAY via Imagn Content Services, LLC

5. Greg Lloyd

Lloyd is one of the greatest Steelers players of the 1990s and among the best linebackers in Steelers history. He was a ferocious pass rusher who racked up 53.5 sacks during his career. Like Jack Lambert before him, Lloyd was an intimidator who led the Steelers defense by example.

He was part of the Blitzburgh defense in the mid-1990s and lined up opposite fellow outside linebacker and Hall of Famer Kevin Greene. For three seasons, the duo abused and tormented every quarterback they faced. They led the team to the Super Bowl in 1995, where they lost to the Cowboys.

Lloyd left Pittsburgh after the 1997 season. In 10 seasons as a Steeler, he made three All-Pro rosters and five Pro Bowls. This is comparable to Steelers safety Donnie Shells All-Star accolades. Lloyd made more All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls than nine Steelers Hall of Famers including Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw and John Stallworth. He lacks the Super Bowl achievements of those players, but it still seems that Greg Lloyd is worthy of consideration.

Jersey Number: 95

Position: Outside Linebacker

Years as a Steeler: 198897

Career Stats

  • 147 games
  • 54.5 sacks
  • 11 interceptions for 189 yards

Career Accolades

  • 3 All-Pro teams
  • 5 Pro Bowls
pittsburgh-steelers-hall-of-fame-snubs
Former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell acknowledges the crowd during a halftime recognition for the Steelers Hall of Honor at Heinz Field in 2017.© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

4. Andy Russell

Russell was a tough outside linebacker who played for the Steelers from 1963 to '76. His career spanned from the pre-Noll years (when the Steelers struggled) to the Super Bowl years of the 1970s. Russell never made an All-Pro roster, but he made an impressive seven Pro Bowls. He was also a starter for two Steelers Super Bowl championships.

The combination of Russell, outside linebacker Jack Ham and middle linebacker Jack Lambert was probably the greatest Steelers linebacking unit in team history. It is tough to argue there has been a better trio of linebackers in a 43 defense.

Russell retired in 1976 after 12 seasons as a Steeler. After his departure, the Steelers never really filled his shoes for the rest of the years they played a 43. Linebackers like Loren Toews, Dirt Winston and Robin Cole were very good, but Russell was one of the greatest Steelers linebackers of all time.

Jersey Number: 34

Position: Outside Linebacker

Years as a Steeler: 196376 (missed 1964 for military service)

Career Stats

  • 168 games
  • 18 interceptions for 238 yards and 1 touchdown
  • (Note: Sacks were not kept as an official statistic until 1982)

Career Accolades

  • 7 Pro Bowls
  • 2 Super Bowl championships
pittsburgh-steelers-hall-of-fame-snubs
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) talks with former receiver Hines Ward before playing the Jaguars in the 2018 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field.© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

3. Hines Ward

Hines Ward is the best wide receiver in Steelers history. Hes caught more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than any other player to wear the black and gold. He appeared in three Super Bowls, won two, and even earned a Super Bowl MVP trophy. Over his 14-year career in Pittsburgh, he made four Pro Bowls.

All of that looks pretty good, yet Ward isnt in the Hall of Fame. In fact, hes never even been a finalist. Wards statistics are only slightly less stellar than Isaac Bruces, a wide receiver who was a finalist three times before making it in 2020. Both players made the same number of Pro Bowls and neither was ever an All-Pro. Ward has one more Super Bowl ring than Bruce and was also a Super Bowl MVP.

Ward has more career catches and more Super Bowl rings than Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, though comparisons stop there. Still, Ward was the best blocking wide receiver of his generation and a tremendous team player, something Hall-of-Fame receivers Moss and Terrell Owens can never claim.

So, why has Hines Ward never even been a finalist in the years since he has been eligible? Your guess is as good as mine.

Jersey Number: 86

Position: Wide Receiver

Years as a Steeler: 19982011

Career Stats:

  • 217 games
  • 1,000 receptions
  • 12,083 yards
  • 85 touchdowns

Career Accolades:

  • 4 Pro Bowls
  • 2 Super Bowl championships
  • Super Bowl XL MVP
pittsburgh-steelers-hall-of-fame-snubs
Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca waves a terrible towel for the crowd on the field prior to the 2018 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Steelers and the Jaguars at Heinz Field.© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

2. Alan Faneca

Steve Hutchinson was one of the best offensive guards of his generation. He made the Hall of Fame class of 2020, and he well deserved it. However, there is one Steeler not in the Hall of Fame who was a better guard than Hutchinson, and thats Alan Faneca. Faneca was one of the greatest offensive linemen in Steelers history. He played for 10 seasons in Pittsburgh and helped win a Super Bowl in 2005.

Lets compare the two players:

  • Faneca made six All-Pro rosters during his career. Hutchinson only made five.
  • Faneca was voted to nine Pro Bowls where Hutchinson made seven.
  • Faneca is a Super Bowl champion, where Hutchinson is not. In fact, Fanecas Steelers beat Hutchinsons Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
  • Faneca played for 13 seasons, while Hutchinson played for 11.
  • Faneca has been a finalist for five years. Hutchinson was a finalist only three times before getting in.

These guys played the same position. How in the world did Hutchinson make the Hall of Fame in 2020 while they have snubbed Faneca five times in a row? Certainly, Hutchinson was a great player who deserves to be in the Hall, but Faneca was better by every measurable attribute. These are the situations that drive football fans nuts.

Jersey Number: 66

Position: Guard

Years as a Steeler: 19982007

Career Stats
158 games

Career Accolades

  • 6 All-Pro teams
  • 9 Pro Bowls
  • 1 Super Bowl championship

1. L.C. Greenwood

The Steelers of the 1970s were known for their Steel Curtain defensive line. While defensive tackle Joe Greene was the best overall player on the line, not to mention the greatest Steeler of all time, defensive end L.C. Greenwood was the most formidable pass rusher. At six-foot-six and 245 pounds, he was built more like a modern tight end than a defensive lineman. But it was a different era, and no Steeler put the fear in a quarterbacks heart like L.C. Greenwood.

Greenwoods career spanned from 1969 to '81. He started in and won four Super Bowls, made two All-Pro rosters and was voted to six Pro Bowls. In Super Bowl X, he sacked Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach four times. While the NFL didnt keep official sack statistics until 1982, Greenwood had an unofficial count of 73.5 sacks in his career.

It is hard to fathom how L.C. Greenwood isnt in the Hall of Fame. He has the statistics, and he has the championships. He was a finalist six times, most recently in 2006. Greenwood passed away in 2013, and it is a travesty he was not recognized by the Hall in his lifetime.

Jersey Number: 68

Position: Defensive End

Years as a Steeler: 196981

Career Stats

  • 170 games
  • 73.5 sacks (unofficial)
  • 14 fumbles recovered

Career Accolades

  • 2 All-Pro teams
  • 6 Pro Bowls
  • 4 Super Bowl championships

Who Is the Worst Steelers Hall of Fame Snub?

It is heartbreaking to think that L.C. Greenwood didnt make it into the Hall of Fame in his lifetime. To Steelers fans, this is an inexcusable error, one that will hopefully be corrected posthumously. Greenwood deserves to be in Canton.

It is also hard to swallow what has happened with Alan Faneca over the past five years. How he was snubbed in 2020 in favor of a less decorated player who played the exact same position seems almost criminal.

Honorable Mentions

These guys probably dont have a realistic chance of making it into the Hall of Fame, but they were great players in their time. If Steelers Nation had its way, these players would have their busts on display in Canton.

Jason Gildon

Gildon is officially No. 2 in Steelers history when it comes to all-time quarterback sacks. He played for the Steelers from 1994 to 2003 and brought down quarterbacks 77 times. Gildon earned a spot on the All-Pro roster in 2001 and he made the Pro Bowl from 200002. He was also a member of the Steelers 1995 AFC Championship team that lost to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.

Carnell Lake

Lake played for the Steelers from 1989 to '98. He was a speedy but undersized linebacker at UCLA and made the switch to strong safety in the NFL. As a safety, he made three Pro Bowls with the Steelers and one more in 1999 as a member of the Jaguars. However, Lake's most impressive feat came in 1995 when he filled in at cornerback for All-Pro Rod Woodson. Lake not only got the job done, but he also made the Pro Bowl and helped the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl. In 10 seasons as a Steeler, Lake intercepted 16 passes and returned three for touchdowns.

Joey Porter

Porter was a fierce pass rusher who is ranked number three in Steelers history with 60 official quarterback sacks. He played for the Steelers from 1999 to 2006 and was a powerful outside linebacker who served as an emotional leader for the Steelers defense. In 2005, Porter and the Steelers won the Super Bowl by defeating the Seahawks. He departed Pittsburgh after the 2006 season. Porter made three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team as a Steeler and one Pro Bowl as a Dolphin.

Casey Hampton

Casey Hampton was the prototypical 34 nose tackle, an enormous man with tremendous strength who dominated the space in the middle of the line and didnt give an inch. He played for the Steelers from 2001 to '12 and helped the team make it to three Super Bowls. Hampton started 164 games in his career while making five Pro Bowls.

Why Does the Pro Football Hall of Fame Snub Players?

Looking at some players on this list, I cant imagine how they havent made it into the Hall of Fame. Every team has legendary players that somehow miss the cut. So, what gives? How does this happen?

I can only make guesses. If you pay close attention, you might notice there seem to be a couple of unwritten guidelines for selecting players.

  1. The Pro Football Hall of Fame doesn't like admitting several players who play the same position in the same year. This explains why Steelers running back Jerome Bettis had to wait several years to get in, and it may be why Hines Ward is still patiently waiting in the wings while other receivers are admitted.
  2. The Hall also seems to shy away from enshrining too many players from the same organization. In 2020, the Steelers had Coach Bill Cowher, safety Donnie Shell and safety Troy Polamalu enshrined. This might explain why they were reluctant to admit Faneca, yet one more Steeler. This might also explain why Greenwood has never been enshrined. During the late 1980s, when all the Steeler greats of the '70s were getting in, it was looking a little like a Steeler invasion. Of the 22 Steelers who started on offense and defense in Super Bowl XIII, 10 of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with Coach Chuck Noll. The fact that Shell has finally been inducted may be a good sign for Greenwood supporters.

Of course, this is all speculation. As far as I know, the Hall of Fame Selection Committee has never officially discussed such concerns. But, it explains why great players get snubbed every year.

For the NFLs centennial year in 2020, the Hall tried to catch up on its backlog of deserving players by admitting 20 players, coaches and contributors instead of the usual seven or eight. Still, it seems like a lot of great players are left out.

Making the Hall of Fame

When a player is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is the final and most significant accolade that punctuates a career of NFL greatness. When their careers end, players must wonder where they stand in the long and storied history of the NFL. Once they put on that gold jacket, there can be no more questions: They are among the best who ever played.

What about the players who dont make it? Most NFL players, even some very good ones, dont even come close. NFL Hall of Famers are an elite group, and the barrier for entry is high. Many excellent players end their careers with no hope of Hall of Fame induction, yet they can feel good about the contributions they made to their teams and the League. You dont have to make the Hall of Fame to call yourself a successful pro football player.

But the players who are on the cusp of Hall of Fame enshrinement have it tough. They live in a shadowy world of uncertainty, and they endure a roller coaster of emotions every year. Making it into the Hall of Fame is a life defining event. Finalists who dont make it may say all the polite things to the media, but nobody can blame them for being frustrated.

It is tough to feel bad for pro athletes who get paid millions of dollars to play a game many of us would play for free. But if any of them deserve our sympathy, its those who were snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

References and Resources

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