While the NFL is in the midst of meetings so secret that James Bond would be jealous, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are busy working out on their own time, Steelers Chronicle would like to take a step back from all of the serious business that is going on, and look on the lighter side of the team. We’re going to look at the numbers 00-99 and figure out who the best Steelers players to wear those numbers were or are.
Expect some old names, some you may not have heard of unless you study your Pittsburgh Steelers rosters more than your college textbooks (I know I do), and you’ll see some current players as well. All in all, I think it’ll be fun to write, and I hope that it’ll be a joy to read.
#00 – Johnny Clement (1946-1948)
Clement only played for the Steelers for three seasons, but wins this by default because he’s the only player to ever wear the double zeroes for the team. He took snaps at both quarterback and running back, performing better at the latter, running for 670 yards and four touchdowns in 1947.
#0 – Johnny Clement (1946-1948)
Like before, Clement wins this by default, not because he’s the only player to wear the number zero for the Steelers, but because the only other player to wear the number, Jack Collins, has literally no statistics anywhere that I can find. The only information that I CAN seem to find on Collins is that he only played for the Steelers for one year, 1952.
#1 – Gary Anderson, Kicker, (1982-1994
Anderson spent 13 of his 23 seasons with the Steelers, after being selected by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 1982 NFL Draft. During that time, he connected on 305 of 395 field goals, and missed only four extra points during his tenure with the team. Anderson would go on to enjoy success with various teams, including a stellar 1998 season with the Minnesota Vikings where he was 100% in both field goals and extra points.
#2 – Dennis Dixon, Quarterback (2008-Present)
Dixon is the best of a sub-par group of players that have worn the number two for the Steelers, and while that doesn’t say much, it is at least an accomplishment that he can be proud of. Drafted in 2008, he was thought to be a Heisman Trophy contender prior to an injury. Dixon hasn’t truly tasted success with the Steelers, but has started three games during his career, and won both of his starts in 2010.
#3 – Jeff Reed, Kicker, (2000-2010)
For all of his off the field problems, Jeff Reed still remains one of the only kickers to be able to effectively kick at Heinz Field, those off of the field issues, however, spelled the end of his tenure as the Pittsburgh Steelers kicker. He made 204 of 249 field goal attempts and 307 of 310 extra points. Known more for his time partying around Pittsburgh than his play on the field, Reed still remains one of the better kickers that the Steelers have had during their existence.
#4 – Josh Miller, Punter, (1996-2003)
In his eight years as the Steelers punter, he always seemed to boom at least one punt some ridiculous distance, including a 75 yard one in 1999. Being a punter generally doesn’t garner you much respect from an NFL fan base, in fact you remain largely ignored as long as you do your job at an average rate. But when you punt the ball over 60 yards in all eight of your seasons for a club (and some after his time with the Steelers) you deserve some recognition.
#5 – Craig Colquitt, Punter (1978-1984)
Another punter, one that averaged around the same yards per punt as the one before him (right around the 40 yards per punt range) which, is a good average to have, it’s not going to get you in the record books, but it also isn’t going to draw the chagrin of fans.
#6 – Bubby Brister, Quarterback, (1986-1992)
Brister went from third round pick to starting quarterback for the Steelers, winning 28 games as a starter, while losing 29 of them. Brister also through more interceptions (57) than touchdowns (51) during his tenure, and lost well over 1,000 yards by taking 145 sacks.
#7 – Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback (2004-Present)
Roethlisberger is the only choice here, two Super Bowl rings, and three appearances to go along with his post game heroics put him in contention for best Steelers quarterback of all time, though he does trail Terry Bradshaw in both Super Bowl ring snad Super Bowl MVP’s. Known as a do-it-all quarterback, he shows an uncanny resilience and ability to make plays happen out of thin air.
#8 – Tommy Maddox, Quarterback, (2001-2005)
Maddox, or ‘Tommy Gun”, is probably most well known for the injury that paved the way for the Ben Roethlisberger regime to commence. To his credit, though, he did throw more touchdowns than interceptions with the Steelers, and the injury he received thrust the Steelers into another decade of greatness.
#9 – Daniel Sepulveda, Punter (2007-Present)
Sepulveda missed the entire 2008 season, and part of the 2010 season due to injury, but when he’s on the field for the team, the special teams becomes automatically better, if only for the reason that the Steeers add an extra kick coverage man that can tackle better than any other punter in the league (yeah, that’s not saying much) while still maintaining a 43.4 yards per punt average during his career.
#10 – Santonio Holmes (2006-2009)
Holmes edges out Kordell ‘Slash’ Stewart in my book, if only because he was indeed part of one of the greatest Super Bowl plays of all time, garnering MVP honors for the catch. During his time with the Steelers, he became Ben Roethlisberger‘s go-to-guy, as well as a deep threat that had an added danger of being able to make defenders miss and racking up yards after the catch. Following a terrible off-season to be working the Steelers public relations department, he was traded to the New York Jets for a 6th round draft pick.
#11 – Howard Hartley (1949-1952)
Hartley played a few positions for the Steelers, but is listed as simply “B” which, after checking the stats, I can only assume means ‘Back’ and also by the stats, I can only assume that they mean ‘Defensive Back’. He certainly had a good career with the team, intercepting 25 passes in four seasons with them (including 10 in 1951), while also covering long snapping and punt return duties.
#12 – Terry Bradshaw, Quarterback (1970-1983)
Another no brainer, Bradshaw is a Pro Football Hall Of Famer, and a four time Super Bowl winner. He was the 1979 NFL MVP, and was voted as the Super Bowl MVP two times. Bradshaw takes a lot of flack for having not only a talented offense around him, but also because he was supported by some of the best defensive players of all time.
#13 – Bill Mackrides, Quarterback (1953)
No real big names have ever worn 13 for the Steelers (probably because of how unlucky it is, right?). He started three games for the team, throwing only one touchdown while giving the ball away five times, and still somehow managed to win two of those games. And, for that alone, he deserves to be on this list.
#14 – Neil O’Donnel, Quarterback (1991-1995)
He helped lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl during his last year with the team, and threw one of the most bone-headed passes in the history of the Super Bowl, as the team lost to their arch-rivals and team of the decade, Dallas Cowboys. Beyond that game, though, he kept his interceptions to a minimum, throwing 68 touchdowns as opposed to 29 interceptions.
#15 – Ed Brown, Quarterback (1962-1965)
This was a toss up between Brown and Mike Kruczek, also a quarterback. Kruczek almost won me over by somehow getting to a 6-0 record as a starter without tossing a single touchdown. But, Browns better quarterback numbers, coupled with his double duty as the team’s punter gets the spot.
#16 – Charlie Batch, Quarterback (2003-Present)
While it’s true that Pro Football Hall Of Famer Len Dawson also wore the number 16 for the Steelers, his time in Pittsburgh was not very good by any standards. Batch, on the other hand has remained a consistent, steady, backup for the team throughout his time. He’s proven that he can step in when in need and win games, evidenced by his 4-2 record as a starter in Pittsburgh.
#17 – Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver (2009-Present)
While only being with the team for the past two seasons, he’s already proven his importance, ranking among the top of wide receiver-quarterback combinations along with Ben Roethlisberger. He’s quickly become one of the NFL’s most dangerous deep threats, and very few defensive backs have the speed to cover him one on one.
#18 – Mike Tomczak, Quarterback (1993-1999)
Tomczak had a 15-12 record as the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and like some previous quarterbacks on this list threw more interceptions than touchdowns. He did throw for over 6,000 yards, but that’s about the end of his stat-line with the team.
Woodley only started in 13 games in a Steelers uniform, winning seven of them. And like others before him, tossed more interceptions (21) than touchdowns (14). In fact, outside of Roethlisberger, Bradshaw, and to an extent Bobby Lane and Neil O’Donnel, the Steelers aren’t known for their great quarterbacks.
#20 – Rocky Bleier, Running Back (1968-1980)
Bleier sacrificed three of his seasons in the NFL to fight for his country, and perhaps that’s part of the reason that he is so revered by the Pittsburgh fan base. He played in 140 games for the team, but only started 17. And though he only surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in one season of his career, he did manage to get his hands on the ball over 1,000 times and scored on 25 of those. Bleier remains one of the Steelers most beloved players.
Look for the next installment of By The Numbers, where we’ll take a look at the best of #’s 21-40!