NFL Mt. Rushmore: Pittsburgh Steelers
Every NFL franchise has it’s own pantheon of football gods. They are a group of players who are not only historic in terms of talent, but are the essential players who you have to talk about when you tell the story of your team. For this, it’s Mt. Rushmore and only four players can be included; the four heads you would carve on a mountain would live forever as the greatest in franchise history. For NFL fans, it's all about when football mattered most to you and those players who are stuck in your mind and your memories. I am sure fans of every team have a hard time narrowing down their entire franchise history into 4 names, but for me it's a fascinating experiment and a trip through history.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a rich franchise history with a pile of Hall of Fame players that have worn the black and gold. When I was thinking about their four faces for Mt. Rushmore, I took into consideration the eras of greatness of this franchise and which players stood out. This was challenging because there have been so many great players across several decades, so individual preferences will vary, but these are my guys. And it wasn't just about the Super Bowl teams. This franchise might have six Super Bowl championships, but there have been great players who can't be excluded just because of the time they played. Who are your "Big Four", Steelers fans? Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know.
Ok, Steelers fans, let's get this started with my Pittsburgh Steelers Mt. Rushmore. The faces on the mountain!
Terry Bradshaw, QB. A lot of football pundits never thought Bradshaw would have ever been a great player, but four Super Bowl titles later they were all silenced. No, they didn’t throw the team on his back and yes, he had a great supporting cast, but the quarterback is the most important player on any team, and the Steelers' four Super Bowl championship teams are among the greatest of all time. His deep throws to Lynn Swann and John Stallworth are some of my first memories of the NFL, and even through that was over 30 years ago, I remember them like they happened yesterday. An easy choice.
Rod Woodson, DB. First off, Woodson was an amazing player. He did it all. He was dominant at both cornerback and safety as well as one of the best kick returners of all time. But more importantly, I include Woodson as the representative of the in-between time. The 1980s and early 1990s were a down stretch for the Steelers franchise. Woodson represents the best of the best during a time when the team wasn’t playing at an elite level. Today, when we talk about these elite athletes in the defensive secondary, I always come back to comparing them to what Woodson was able to do.
Jack Lambert, LB. Yes, I could have put a guy like Jack Ham, "Mean" Joe Greene or Mel Blount in this spot. All of them would have been perfect choices to represent this era. But the face of the 1970s Steel Curtain defense was that Jack-o-Lantern smile of Lambert. Lambert was a smart, athletic and vicious player who was the heart of the greatest defense of all time. He was never the biggest, fastest or strongest guy, but for my money, there isn't one linebacker who has ever played who did more for his team than Lambert.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB. I am sure there are some old-timers who will have to take extra ulcer medicine over this pick, but regardless of his off field concerns, Roethlisberger is going to end his career as the statistical leader in all categories in Steelers franchise history; plus, he already has two Super Bowl rings at the age of 30. This franchise went through a long drought of quarterback talent from Bradshaw until Roethlisberger came along. And all Roethlisberger did was bring glory back to Pittsburgh. At the end of his career, he’ll likely have at least one more Super Bowl win and find himself in the Hall of Fame next to Bradshaw.