The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers compete in the National Football League (NFL), as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) North division. Founded in 1933, the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC.
|Established July 8, 1933
First season: 1933
Play in Heinz Field
Headquartered in UPMC Sports Performance Complex
Training camp in
|President||Art Rooney II|
|General manager||Kevin Colbert|
|Head coach||Mike Tomlin|
Conference championships (8)
Division championships (23)
|Playoff appearances (31)|
|Rooney family (1933–present)|
In contrast with their status as perennial also-rans in the pre-merger NFL, where they were the oldest team never to win a league championship, the Steelers of the post-merger (modern) era are one of the most successful NFL franchises. Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles (6) and both played in (16) and hosted more conference championship games (11) than any other NFL team. The Steelers have won 8 AFC championships, tied with the Denver Broncos, but behind the New England Patriots' record 10 AFC championships. The Steelers share the record for second most Super Bowl appearances with the Broncos, and Dallas Cowboys (8). The Steelers lost their most recent championship appearance, Super Bowl XLV, on February 6, 2011.
The Steelers, whose history traces to a regional pro team that was established in the early 1920s, joined the NFL as the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 8, 1933, owned by Art Rooney and taking its original name from the baseball team of the same name, as was common practice for NFL teams at the time. To distinguish them from the baseball team, local media took to calling the football team the Rooneymen, an unofficial nickname which persisted for decades after the team adopted its current nickname. The ownership of the Steelers has remained within the Rooney family since its founding. Art's son, Dan Rooney owned the team from 1988 until his death in 2017. Much control of the franchise has been given to Dan's son Art Rooney II. The Steelers enjoy a large, widespread fanbase nicknamed Steeler Nation. The Steelers currently play their home games at Heinz Field on Pittsburgh's North Side in the North Shore neighborhood, which also hosts the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. Built in 2001, the stadium replaced Three Rivers Stadium which hosted the Steelers for 31 seasons. Prior to Three Rivers, the Steelers had played their games in Pitt Stadium and Forbes Field.
The Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL first took to the field as the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 20, 1933, losing 23–2 to the New York Giants. Through the 1930s, the Pirates never finished higher than second place in their division, or with a record better than .500 (1936). Pittsburgh did make history in 1938 by signing Byron White, a future Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to what was at the time the biggest contract in NFL history, but he played only one year with the Pirates before signing with the Detroit Lions. Prior to the 1940 season, the Pirates renamed themselves the Steelers.
During World War II, the Steelers experienced player shortages. They twice merged with other NFL franchises to field a team. During the 1943 season, they merged with the Philadelphia Eagles forming the "Phil-Pitt Eagles" and were known as the "Steagles". This team went 5–4–1. In 1944, they merged with the Chicago Cardinals and were known as Card-Pitt (or, mockingly, as the "Carpets"). This team finished 0–10, marking the only winless team in franchise history.
The Steelers made the playoffs for the first time in 1947, tying for first place in the division at 8–4 with the Philadelphia Eagles. This forced a tie-breaking playoff game at Forbes Field, which the Steelers lost 21–0. That would be Pittsburgh's only playoff game for the next 25 years; they did qualify for a "Playoff Bowl" in 1962 as the second-best team in their conference, but this was not considered an official playoff.
In 1970, the year they moved into Three Rivers Stadium and the year of the AFL–NFL merger, the Pittsburgh Steelers were one of three old-guard NFL teams to switch to the newly formed American Football Conference (the others being the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts), in order to equalize the number of teams in the two conferences of the newly merged league. The Steelers also received a $3 million ($18.9 million today) relocation fee, which was a windfall for them; for years they rarely had enough to build a true contending team.
The Chuck Noll era
The Steelers' history of bad luck changed with the hiring of coach Chuck Noll for the 1969 season. Noll's most remarkable talent was in his draft selections, taking Hall of Famers "Mean" Joe Greene in 1969, Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount in 1970, Jack Ham in 1971, Franco Harris in 1972, and finally, in 1974, pulling off the incredible feat of selecting four Hall of Famers in one draft year, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster. The Pittsburgh Steelers' 1974 draft was their best ever; no other team has ever drafted four future Hall of Famers in one year, and only very few (including the 1970 Steelers) have drafted two or more in one year.
The players drafted in the early 1970s formed the base of an NFL dynasty, making the playoffs in eight seasons and becoming the only team in NFL history to win four Super Bowls in six years, as well as the first to win more than two. They also enjoyed a regular season streak of 49 consecutive wins (1971–1979) against teams that would finish with a losing record that year.
The Steelers suffered a rash of injuries in the 1980 season and missed the playoffs with a 9–7 record. The 1981 season was no better, with an 8–8 showing. The team was then hit with the retirements of all their key players from the Super Bowl years. "Mean" Joe Greene retired after the 1981 season, Lynn Swann and Jack Ham after 1982's playoff berth, Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount after 1983's divisional championship, and Jack Lambert after 1984's AFC Championship Game appearance.
After those retirements, the franchise skidded to its first losing seasons since 1971. Though still competitive, the Steelers would not finish above .500 in 1985, 1986, and 1988. In 1987, the year of the players' strike, the Steelers finished with a record of 8–7, but missed the playoffs. In 1989, they would reach the second round of the playoffs on the strength of Merrill Hoge and Rod Woodson before narrowly missing the playoffs in each of the next two seasons.
Noll's career record with Pittsburgh was 209–156–1.
The Bill Cowher era
Cowher led the Steelers to the playoffs in each of his first six seasons, a feat that had been accomplished only by legendary coach Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns. In those first six seasons, Cowher coached them as deep as the AFC Championship Game three times and following the 1995 season an appearance in Super Bowl XXX on the strength of the "Blitzburgh" defense. However, the Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX, two weeks after a thrilling AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Cowher produced the franchise's record-tying fifth Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XL over the National Football Conference champion Seattle Seahawks ten years later. With that victory, the Steelers became the third team to win five Super Bowls, and the first sixth-seeded playoff team to reach and win the Super Bowl since the NFL expanded to a 12-team post-season tournament in 1990. He coached through the 2006 season which ended with an 8–8 record, just short of the playoffs. Overall Cowher's teams reached the playoffs 10 of 15 seasons with six AFC Championship Games, two Super Bowl berths and a championship.
Cowher's career record with Pittsburgh was 149–90–1 in the regular season and 161–99–1 overall, including playoff games.
The Mike Tomlin era
On January 7, 2007, Cowher resigned from coaching the Steelers, citing a need to spend more time with his family. He did not use the term "retire", leaving open a possible return to the NFL as coach of another team. A three-man committee consisting of Art Rooney II, Dan Rooney, and Kevin Colbert was set up to conduct interviews for the head coaching vacancy. The candidates interviewed included: offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, offensive line coach Russ Grimm, former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. On January 22, 2007, Mike Tomlin was announced as Cowher's successor as head coach. Tomlin is the first African-American to be named head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in its 75-year history. Tomlin became the third consecutive Steelers Head Coach to go to the Super Bowl, equaling the Dallas Cowboys (Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer) in this achievement. He was named the Motorola 2008 Coach of the Year. On February 1, 2009, Tomlin led the Steelers to their second Super Bowl of this decade, and went on to win 27–23 against the Arizona Cardinals. At age 36, he was the youngest head coach to ever win the Super Bowl, and he is only the second African-American coach to ever win the Super Bowl (Tony Dungy was the first). The 2010 season made Tomlin the only coach to reach the Super Bowl twice before the age of 40. Tomlin led the team to his second Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLV) on Feb. 6, 2011. However, the Steelers were defeated in their eighth Super Bowl appearance by the Green Bay Packers by the score of 31–25. The Steelers recorded their 400th victory in 2012 after defeating the Washington Redskins.
Through the 2016 season, Tomlin's record is 111–63, including playoffs. He is the first Pittsburgh coach without a losing season. The 2013–2017 seasons were noted for record performances from the "killer B's". This trio consisted of Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell. Occasionally, the "Killer B's" has also included kicker Chris Boswell due to his ability to hit game-winning field goals.
Since the NFL merger in 1970, the Pittsburgh Steelers have compiled a regular season record of 444–282–2 (.635) and an overall record of 480-305-2 (.635) including the playoffs, reached the playoffs 30 times, won their division 22 times, played in 16 AFC championship games, and won six of eight Super Bowls. They are also the only NFL team not to have a season with twelve or more losses since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
Since 2008, the Rooney family has brought in several investors for the team while retaining control of the team itself. This came about so that the team could comply with NFL ownership regulations. Dan Rooney, and his son, Art Rooney II, president of the franchise, wanted to stay involved with the franchise, while two of the brothers – Timothy and Patrick – wanted to further pursue racetracks that they own in Florida and New York. Since 2006, many of the racetracks have added video slot machines, causing them to violate "NFL policy that prohibits involvement with racetrack and gambling interests".
Upon Dan Rooney's death in 2017, he and Art Rooney II retained control of the team with the league-minimum 30%, the following make up the other investors:
- Several other members of the Rooney family, including Art Rooney Jr., John Rooney, and the McGinley family, who are cousins to the Rooneys.
- Legendary Pictures president and CEO Thomas Tull.
- The Robert A. Paul family of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, which is primarily involved with Pittsburgh-based Ampco Pittsburgh Corporation as well as Morton's Restaurant Group, Urban Active Fitness, Meyer Products and Harley Marine Services. Additionally, family members serve on numerous boards, including Cornell University, UPMC, University of Pittsburgh, the American Red Cross, Harvard Medical School and the Loomis Chaffee School.
- Former Steelers wide receiver John Stallworth, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- GTCR chairman Bruce V. Rauner.
- The Peter Varischetti family of Brockway, Pennsylvania, which owns several nursing homes and a commercial real estate business.
- Paul Evanson, chairman, president, and CEO of Allegheny Energy.
- Russ and Scott Swank of Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania.
Through the end of the 2015 season, the Steelers have an all-time record of 624–552–21, including playoffs. In recent seasons the Steelers have generally performed well, qualifying for the playoffs six times in the past ten seasons and winning the Super Bowl twice since 2005.
In the NFL's "modern era" (since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970) the Steelers have posted the best record in the league. The franchise has won the most regular season games, the most playoff games (33 playoff wins; the Dallas Cowboys are second with 32), won the most divisional titles (20), has played in the most conference championship games (15), hosted the most conference championship games (11), and is tied with the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots for the most Super Bowl appearances (8). The Steelers have the best winning percentage (including every expansion team), earned the most All-Pro nominations, and have accumulated the most Super Bowl wins (6) since the modern game started in 1970. Since the merger, the team's playoff record is 33–19 (.635), which is second best in terms of playoff winning percentage behind the Green Bay Packers' playoff record of 28–16 (.636), through January 23, 2011.
Civil rights advocacy
The franchise, along with the Rooney family have for generations been strong advocates for equality of opportunity for both minorities and women. Among these achievements of the Steelers was the first to hire an African-American Assistant Coach (September 29, 1957 with Lowell Perry), the first to start an African-American quarterback (December 3, 1973 with Joe Gilliam), the first team to boast of an African-American Super Bowl MVP (January 12, 1975 with Franco Harris), the first to hire an African-American Coordinator (September 2, 1984 with Tony Dungy), the first owner to push for passage of an "equal opportunity" mandating that at least one minority candidate is given an interview in all head coach hiring decisions throughout the league (the Rooney Rule in the early 2000s), and the first to hire a female as full-time athletic trainer (Ariko Iso on July 24, 2002).
Note: Although Marlin Briscoe is sometimes erroneously cited as the first African-American starting quarterback in 1968, this was not for an NFL team and not in an NFL game, additionally the vast majority of Briscoe's career was not as quarterback.
Logo and uniforms
The Steelers have used black and gold as their colors since the club's inception, the lone exception being the 1943 season when they merged with the Philadelphia Eagles and formed the "Steagles"; the team's colors at that time were green and white as a result of wearing Eagles uniforms. Originally, the team wore solid gold-colored helmets and black jerseys. The Steelers' black and gold colors are now shared by all major professional teams in the city, including the Pittsburgh Pirates in baseball and the Pittsburgh Penguins in ice hockey, and also the Pittsburgh Power of the re-formed Arena Football League, and the Pittsburgh Passion of the Independent Women's Football League. The shade of gold differs slightly among teams: the Penguins have previously used "Vegas Gold", a color similar to metallic gold, and the Pirates' gold is a darker mustard yellow-gold, while the Steelers "gold" is more of a bright canary yellow. Black and gold are also the colors of the city's official flag.
The Steelers logo was introduced in 1962 and is based on the "Steelmark", originally designed by Pittsburgh's U.S. Steel and now owned by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). In fact, it was Cleveland-based Republic Steel that suggested the Steelers adopt the industry logo. It consists of the word "Steelers" surrounded by three astroids (hypocycloids of four cusps). The original meanings behind the astroids were, "Steel lightens your work, brightens your leisure, and widens your world." Later, the colors came to represent the ingredients used in the steel-making process: yellow for coal, red for iron ore, and blue for scrap steel. While the formal Steelmark logo contains only the word "Steel", the team was given permission to add "ers" in 1963 after a petition to AISI.
The Steelers are the only NFL team that puts its logo on only one side of the helmet (the right side). Longtime field and equipment manager Jack Hart was instructed to do this by Art Rooney as a test to see how the logo appeared on the gold helmets; however, its popularity led the team to leave it that way permanently. A year after introducing the logo, they switched to black helmets to make it stand out more.
The current uniform designs were introduced in 1968. The design consists of gold pants and either black jerseys or white jerseys, except for the 1970 and 1971 seasons when the Steelers wore white pants with their white jerseys. In 1997, the team switched to rounded numbers on the jersey to match the number font (Futura Condensed) on the helmets, and a Steelers logo was added to the left side of the jersey.
The 2007–2011 third uniform, consisting of a black jersey with gold lettering, white pants with black and gold stripes, and a gold helmet were first used during the Steelers' 75th anniversary season in 2007. They were meant to evoke the memory of the 1963–1964 era uniforms. The uniforms were so popular among fans that the Steelers' organization decided to keep them and use them as a third option during home games only.
In 2012, the Steelers introduced a new third uniform, consisting of a yellow jersey with black horizontal lines (making a bumble bee like pattern) with black lettering and black numbers placed inside a white box, to represent the jerseys worn by the Steelers in their 1934 season. The rest of the uniform consists of beige pants, yellow with black horizontal stripped socks, and the Steelers regular black helmet. The uniforms were used for the Steelers' 80th anniversary season. Much like the previous alternate these jerseys were so popular that they were used up through the 2016 season. The jerseys were nicknamed the "bumblebee jerseys" due to looking like the pattern of a bumble bee. The jerseys were retired after the 2016 season.
In 2008–2009, the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to defeat an opponent three times in a single season using three different uniforms. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh in Week 4 in their third jerseys, again Week 15 in Baltimore in their road whites, and a final time in the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh in their home black jerseys.
In 1979, the team owners were approached by then-Iowa Hawkeyes Head Coach Hayden Fry about designing his fading college team's uniforms in the image of the Steelers. Three days later, the owners sent Fry the reproduction jerseys (home and away versions) of then quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Today, the Hawkeyes still retain the 1979 Steelers uniforms as their home, and away colors.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have three primary rivals, all within their division: (Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals). They also have rivalries with other teams that arose from post-season battles in the past, most notably the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys. They also have an intrastate rivalry with the Philadelphia Eagles, but under the current scheduling the teams play each other only once every four years.
- The Cleveland Browns and the Steelers have been divisional rivals since the two cities' teams began playing against each other in 1950. After posting a 9–31 record in the first 40 games of the series between the two cities, the Steelers recently took over the all-time series lead for the first time ever (64–56); partly due to their dominance over the post-1999 Cleveland Browns franchise and won twelve straight before the Browns snapped their losing skid against them by beating them 13–6 on December 10, 2009. Additionally, the Browns lost 16 straight years in Pittsburgh from 1970–1985 and posted an abysmal 5–24 record at Three Rivers Stadium overall. Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher coached the Browns special teams and secondary before following Marty Schottenheimer for a brief tenure as Kansas City Defensive Coordinator, and then hired by Pittsburgh. This has only intensified the rivalry.
- The Baltimore Ravens and the Steelers have had several memorable match-ups and have a bitter divisional rivalry. Both teams handed the other their first losses at their current home fields. The Steelers won the inaugural game played at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium in 1998, 20–13, and three years later the Ravens handed the Steelers their first-ever loss at Heinz Field, 13–10. Later that season (2001) Pittsburgh won a divisional playoff game 27–10 against Baltimore, who was the defending Super Bowl champion. During their NFL championship season in 2000, the Ravens defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 16–0, in the season opener with the Steelers later exacting revenge, 9–6, in Baltimore (the Ravens' final loss of the season). During the Steelers 2008 Championship run, they beat the Ravens three times, including a win in the AFC Championship game. The Steelers lead the series (begun in 1996), 16–10. The two teams complement each other by consistently fielding strong defenses in their division.
- The Cincinnati Bengals–Steelers rivalry dates from the 1970 season, when the AFL–NFL merger was completed. In 1976, the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive (they later won the division) with a late-season 7–3 win in snowy Cincinnati. One of the most memorable games was the 2005 AFC Wildcard playoff game, in which the Steelers, en route to a Super Bowl title, won a 31–17 come-from-behind victory after Bengals QB Carson Palmer was forced to leave the game with a knee injury. The injury happened when nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen contacted Palmer's knee during a passing play. The Bengals players called this a dirty play; the NFL ruled that it was accidental and did not fine von Oelhoffen for the hit. This incident has led to an intensifying of the rivalry since this game. The Bengals beat the Steelers in week 13 of the 2005 season 38–31, and wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh used a Terrible Towel to polish his cleats while walking up the tunnel after the game, fueling the rivalry. The Steelers and Bengals finished 2005 and 2006 with identical records (11–5 and 8–8 respectively), splitting both regular-season series, the Bengals winning the tiebreaker both years due to having a superior division record. The Steelers also are responsible for ending the Bengals' season in Cincinnati two years in a row, eliminating them from the playoffs in 2005 and taking them out of contention in 2006. The Steelers lead the all-time series, 52–32.
- The Raiders–Steelers rivalry was one of the most heated of the 1970s and early to mid-1980s. The Steelers' first playoff win was a 13–7 victory over the Raiders by way of Franco Harris's Immaculate Reception on December 23, 1972. The wild card Pittsburgh football team was knocked out of the playoffs the following year by the Raiders in the 1973 AFC Divisional round 33–14, but fired back with two straight AFC Championships in 1974 24–13 and 1975 16–10 over Oakland. Oakland responded with a victory over Pittsburgh in the 1976 AFC Championship game 24–7 (the third consecutive AFC title game between the two teams), but not before Chuck Noll referred to Oakland's George Atkinson as part of the NFL's "criminal element" after his alleged cheap-shot on Lynn Swann during a regular-season matchup. Atkinson and the Raiders later filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Noll, but lost. Following the 1983 regular season, the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Steelers 38–10 in the AFC Divisional round which turned out to be the last NFL game for Steeler Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw who did not play due to injury. While the rivalry has dissipated over the years (mostly due to Oakland's decline after 2002), the teams have had notable games against each other including an upset Steelers victory towards the end of the 2000 season to prevent the Raiders from obtaining homefield advantage in the playoffs, and an upset Raiders victory in week 8 of the 2006 NFL season (20–13), which helped cost the Steelers a playoff berth; three years later another Raiders upset took place. In Week 13, the game lead changed five times on five touchdowns in the fourth quarter; Bruce Gradkowski's third touchdown of the quarter won it with nine seconds to go, and the 27–24 loss cost the Steelers another playoff run. The teams met at Pittsburgh in 2010, where the Steelers blew out the Raiders 35–3, and ended their 3-game winning streak; the game was further notable for a punch thrown by Richard Seymour of the Raiders against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Raiders then hosted the Steelers in 2012 and erased a 31–21 gap to win 34–31. The two clubs met again in 2013 and the Raiders won again, 21–18. The Steelers trail the all-time series 14–12 (11–9 in regular season).
- The Cowboys–Steelers rivalry started with the Cowboys' first game as a franchise in 1960 (against the Steelers) at the Cotton Bowl with the Steelers coming away with a 35–28 victory. These teams hold a record for the most times (three) that two teams have met in a Super Bowl. The first two times the favored Steelers and Cowboys met came with Pittsburgh victories in the Orange Bowl Super Bowl X 21–17 and Super Bowl XIII 35–31. The Cowboys never won a regular season game in the Orange Bowl and lost three Super Bowl games (once to the Baltimore Colts and twice to the Steelers). Between the Cowboys and Steelers, Super Bowl XIII had the greatest number of future Pro Football Hall of Fame players participating, which as of 2010 numbered 20 – 14 players and six coaches/front office, including Ernie Stautner, defensive coordinator for the Cowboys who was a HoF defensive tackle for the Steelers. The teams featured an all-star matchup at quarterback between the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw and the Cowboys' Roger Staubach, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame. In 1977, Staubach and the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII, their second and last loss of their season being inflicted by Bradshaw and the Steelers, 28–13 at Three Rivers Stadium in November. In 1979, Staubach's final season, the two defending conference champs met again at Three Rivers, the Steelers winning 14–3 en route to winning their fourth Super Bowl title. The Steelers won six of eight meetings during the 1970s and 80s, before the Cowboys won all four meetings during the 1990s, including the teams' record third Super Bowl meeting in 1996, as this time the heavily favored Cowboys beat the Steelers 27–17. Dallas cornerback Larry Brown intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O'Donnell twice and was named the game's MVP. The teams' first two meetings of the 21st century (2004 and 2008) were won by the Steelers, including a come from behind victory December 7, 2008 in Pittsburgh, when the Steelers drove the length of the field to tie the game 13–13, then cornerback Deshea Townsend returned an intercepted pass from Tony Romo for the game's final score, Steelers 20, Cowboys 13. The Cowboys won on December 16, 2012, at Cowboys Stadium by a 27–24 margin in overtime and won 35-30 at Heinz Field on November 13, 2016. The all-time series is led by the Dallas Cowboys, 17–15. The Pittsburgh/Dallas rivalry served as a backdrop to the 1977 film Black Sunday, parts of which were filmed during Super Bowl X.
- The Denver Broncos in 2011 broke a tie with the Oakland Raiders for the most playoff meetings versus the Steelers and added yet another meeting in 2015 (the Broncos have met Pittsburgh eight times to Oakland's six). The rivalry dates from 1970, but the first notable contest came in 1973, when Denver dealt Pittsburgh its first regular-season defeat at Three Rivers Stadium, 23–13. The following year, they met in the NFL's first regular-season overtime game, which ended in a 35–35 tie. Denver's first playoff game had them hosting the Steelers in the 1977 divisional round; the Broncos won 34–21. The following year, the Steelers hosted and defeated Denver 33–10 in the divisional round. Their next playoff matchup was the 1984 divisional round in Mile High Stadium; the Steelers pulled the upset 24–17. They nearly pulled the upset again 5 years later in Denver, but the Broncos prevailed in the divisional playoff, 24–23. In 1997, they met in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship Game, where Denver squeaked out at 24–21 win. Eight years later, the Steelers went to the Super Bowl by beating Denver 34–17 in Colorado, only to have their campaign to repeat as AFC Champions dashed in Denver after a stunning overtime upset by the Tim Tebow lead Broncos in January 2012. The following September the Steelers were defeated in Denver 31–19 in Peyton Manning's debut as Broncos quarterback. The two clubs met twice in 2015, as the Steelers defeated the Broncos in the regular season but fell in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs; Denver presently leads the series 19–11–1, including 5–3 in the playoffs. Neither team has beaten the other more than three times in a row.
- The New England Patriots emerged as a prominent rivalry in league circles when the Patriots upset the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field, though the two teams had met in the postseason twice before – the Patriots defeated the Steelers in 1996 28-3 while the Steelers won 7-6 in 1997; both times the Patriots fielded players in Ty Law and Curtis Martin with Pittsburgh-area roots; Martin's final game with the Patriots was in the 1997 playoffs before he departed to the rival New York Jets. Following the 2001 AFC title upset the Patriots defeated the Steelers 30-14 at the start of the 2002 season. Pittsburgh did not exact revenge for the two losses until ending the Patriots record-setting 21-game winning streak in week 6 of the 2004 NFL season. Later that season, the Steelers lost to the eventual champion Patriots in the AFC Championship game after a 15–1 season. The Patriots won six of seven meetings over a ten-year period (1998–2007) before the Steelers broke through with a 33–10 victory at Foxborough in 2008, after Matt Cassel had turned the ball over five times. The Steelers lead the all-time regular season series, 13–8. The Patriots in 2013 then made history by becoming the first opponent to score 55 points on the Steelers, winning 55–31. The Patriots won again in 2015 (28-21) and 2016's regular season (27-16) and then won 36-17 in the 2016 AFC Championship Game. In the postseason, the Patriots have outscored the Steelers 135 points to 75, with the Patriots maintaining a 4–1 record. The only other franchises with winning AFC playoff records against Steelers include the Miami Dolphins (2–1, both wins in the AFC Championship), the San Diego Chargers (2–1, all games played in Pittsburgh), the Jacksonville Jaguars (1–0, game at Heinz Field), and the Broncos (5–3). The Steelers have an all-time regular-season record of 14–11 against the Patriots.
- Less well known is Pittsburgh's rivalry with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise. The Oilers were aligned into the AFC Central with the Steelers in 1970 and were division rivals for 32 seasons. The Steelers dominated the rivalry during the Houston era and defeated the Oilers in three playoff matchups. But since the franchise moved to Tennessee the rivalry shifted, with the Titans winning 13 of 20 meetings (including a bitter 34–31 playoff showdown in 2002) post-Houston; the Titans won seven in a row in the 1997–2001 period, the longest win streak by either team in the series. The Steelers have won 45 of 77 career meetings following 2014's 27–24 win at LP Field.
Prior to the 2007 season, the Steelers introduced Steely McBeam as their official mascot. As part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the team, his name was selected from a pool of 70,000 suggestions submitted by fans of the team. Diane Roles of Middlesex Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania submitted the winning name which was "meant to represent steel for Pittsburgh's industrial heritage, "Mc" for the Rooney family's Irish roots, and Beam for the steel beams produced in Pittsburgh, as well as for Jim Beam, her husband's favorite alcoholic beverage." Steely McBeam is visible at all home games and participates in the team's charitable programs and other club-sponsored events. Steely's autograph is known to be drawn with an oversized 'S' and the "L" is drawn to look like a beam of steel.
The Steelers have a tradition of having a large fanbase, which has spread from Pittsburgh. In August 2008, ESPN.com ranked the Steelers' fans as the best in the NFL, citing their "unbelievable" sellout streak of 299 consecutive games. The team gained a large fan base nationally based on its success in the 1970s, but many consider the collapse of the city's steel industry at the end of the 1970s dynasty into the 1980s (and the resulting diaspora) to be a large catalyst for the size of the fan base in other cities. The Steelers have sold out every home game since the 1972 season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have numerous unofficial fan clubs in many cities throughout the country, that typically meet in bars or taverns on game days. This phenomenon is known to occur for other NFL teams as well, but "Steeler bars" are more visible than most, including representative establishments even in cities that field their own NFL teams.
The Terrible Towel has been described by the Associated Press as "arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team". Conceived of by broadcaster Myron Cope in 1975, the towel's rights have since been given to the Allegheny Valley School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, which cares for over 900 people with intellectual disability and physical disabilities, including Cope's autistic son. Since 1996, proceeds from the Terrible Towel have helped raise more than $2.5 million for the school.
The Steelers have no official fight song, but many fan versions of Here we go Steelers and the Steelers Polka (the latter a parody of Pennsylvania Polka) by ethnic singer Jimmy Pol, both originating in the 1970s, have been recorded. Since 1994, the song Here We Go by local singer Roger Wood has been popular among fans. During Steelers games, Styx's Renegade is often used to rally the crowd.
During the offseason, the Steelers have long participated in charity basketball games throughout Western Pennsylvania and neighboring areas. The games usually feature six active players as well as their player-coach playing against a group of local civic leaders. The players, whose participants aren't announced until the day the game, sign free autographs for fans during halftime.
In 2001, the Steelers moved into Heinz Field. The franchise dating back to 1933 has had several homes. For thirty-one seasons, the Steelers shared Forbes Field with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1933 to 1963. In 1958, though they started splitting their home games at Pitt Stadium three blocks away at the University of Pittsburgh. From 1964 to 1969, the Steelers played exclusively at the on campus facility before moving with the Pirates to Three Rivers Stadium on the city's Northside. Three Rivers is remembered fondly by the Steeler Nation as where Chuck Noll and Dan Rooney turned the franchise into a powerhouse, winning four Super Bowls in just six seasons and making the playoffs 11 times in 13 seasons from 1972 to 1984, the AFC title game seven times. Since 2001 however a new generation of Steeler greats has made Heinz Field legendary with multiple AFC Championship Games being hosted and two Super Bowl championships.
The Steelers hold training camp east of the city at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The site is one of the most storied in the league with Peter King of SI.com describing it as: "... I love the place. It's the perfect training-camp setting, looking out over the rolling hills of the Laurel Highlands in west-central Pennsylvania, an hour east of Pittsburgh. On a misty or foggy morning, standing atop the hill at the college, you feel like you're in Scotland. Classic, wonderful slice of Americana. If you can visit one training camp, this is the one to see.
The team has its headquarters and practice facilities at the state-of-the-art University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sportsplex on Pittsburgh's Southside. Constructed in 2000, the facility combines the vast expertise of sports medical professionals and researchers as well as hosting the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team.
The Rooney family has long had a close relationship with Duquesne University in the city and from the teams founding in the 1930s to the late 1990s used Art Rooney Field and other facilities on campus as either its primary or secondary in-season training site as well as Greenlee Field during the 1930s.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the team had season scrimmages at South Park in the suburban south hills of Pittsburgh. During various seasons including the strike season of 1987, the Steelers used Point Stadium in nearby Johnstown, Pennsylvania for game week practices. During the 1950s St. Bonaventure University and suburban Ligonier also served as a pre-season training camp sites.
Players of note
Pittsburgh Steelers roster
Retired uniform numbers
|Pittsburgh Steelers retired numbers|
The Steelers retired Stautner's #70 in 1964 before creating a 50-year tradition of not retiring numbers. The team retired Greene's #75 in 2014 and left the possibility open that they would retire other players' jersey numbers at later dates. Other numbers are no longer issued since the retirement of the players who wore them, including:
- 1 Gary Anderson
- 12 Terry Bradshaw
- 32 Franco Harris
- 36 Jerome Bettis
- 43 Troy Polamalu
- 52 Mike Webster
- 58 Jack Lambert
- 59 Jack Ham
- 63 Dermontti Dawson
- 86 Hines Ward
Pro Football Hall of Famers
The Steelers boast the third most "primary" inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, i.e. inductees that spent most or all of their NFL careers in Pittsburgh. They also can claim the most honorees of any franchise founded on or after 1933 and the only franchise with three members of ownership in the Hall.
- Rocky Bleier, former Steeler running back received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge while serving in the Army in Vietnam.
- Pat Livingston, Steelers beat writer for the Pittsburgh Press, awarded the 1979 Dick McCann Memorial Award
- Vito Stellino, Steelers beat writer in the 1970s for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, awarded the 1989 Dick McCann Memorial Award
- Myron Cope, Announcer (1970–2005), awarded the 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award
- John Clayton, Steelers beat writer for the Pittsburgh Press (1976–1986), awarded the 2007 Dick McCann Memorial Award
Steelers in the Hall for contributions elsewhere
|Steelers in the Hall for contributions elsewhere|
|No.||Name||Inducted||Steeler Position(s)||Years w/ Steelers||Primary Team||Impact Position(s)||Ref.|
|36||Cal Hubbard||1963||OT||1936||Green Bay Packers||OT|||
|15||Johnny "Blood" McNally||1963||FB
|Green Bay Packers||FB|||
|36||Marion Motley||1968||FB||1955||Cleveland Browns||FB|||
|14||Johnny Unitas||1979||QB||1955||Baltimore Colts||QB|||
|16||Len Dawson||1987||QB||1957–1959||Kansas City Chiefs||QB|||
|7||Jim Finks||1995||QB||1949–1955||Minnesota Vikings||GM|||
|—||Mike Munchak||2001||Offensive Line Coach||2014–present
|—||Russ Grimm||2010||Offensive Line Coach||2001–2006
|—||Dick LeBeau||2010||Defensive Coordinator||1992–1996
|Indianapolis Colts||Head coach|||
|91||Kevin Greene||2016||LB||1993–1995||Los Angeles Rams||LB|||
Pro Bowl players
The following Steelers players have been named to the Pro Bowl:
- QB Ben Roethlisberger (6), Kordell Stewart, Neil O'Donnell, Terry Bradshaw (3), Bobby Layne (2), Earl Morrall, Jim Finks
- FB Roosevelt Nix, Earnest Jackson, Franco Harris (9), John Henry Johnson (3), Fran Rogel, Dick Riffle, John Karcis, Stu Smith
- HB Le'Veon Bell (3), Willie Parker (2), Jerome Bettis (4), Barry Foster (2), Dick Hoak, Clendon Thomas, Tom Tracy (2), Ray Mathews (2), Johnny Lattner, Lynn Chandnois (2), Joe Geri (2), Bill Dudley, Merl Condit, Whizzer White
- LT Alejandro Villanueva, Marvel Smith, Charlie Bradshaw (2), Joe Coomer
- LG Alan Faneca (7), Duval Love, Mike Sandusky, Byron Gentry (2)
- C Maurkice Pouncey (6), Jeff Hartings (2), Dermontti Dawson (7), Mike Webster (9), Buzz Nutter, Bill Walsh (2), Chuck Cherundolo (2), Mike Basrak
- RG David DeCastro (3), Carlton Haselrig, Bruce Van Dyke, John Nisby (2), Milt Simington
- RT Tunch Ilkin (2), Larry Brown, Frank Varrichione (4), George Hughes (2), John Woudenberg
- TE Heath Miller (2), Eric Green (2), Preston Carpenter, Jack McClairen, Elbie Nickel (3)
- WR Antonio Brown (5), Mike Wallace, Hines Ward (4), Yancey Thigpen (2), Louis Lipps (2), John Stallworth (4), Lynn Swann (3), Ron Shanklin, Roy Jefferson (2), Gary Ballman (2), Buddy Dial (2), Jimmy Orr
- DE Cameron Heyward, Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith, L. C. Greenwood (6), Dwight White (2), Ben McGee (2), Lou Michaels (2), Bill McPeak (3)
- DT Casey Hampton (5), Joel Steed, Joe Greene (10), Joe Krupa, Gene Lipscomb, Ernie Stautner (9)
- LB Ryan Shazier (2), James Harrison (5), LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior (2), Joey Porter (3), Jason Gildon (3), Kendrell Bell, Levon Kirkland (2), Chad Brown, Kevin Greene (2), Greg Lloyd (5), David Little, Mike Merriweather (3), Robin Cole, Jack Lambert (9), Jack Ham (8), Andy Russell (7), Myron Pottios (3), John Reger (3), Dale Dodrill (4), Marv Matuszak, Jerry Shipkey (3), Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons
- CB Rod Woodson (7), Mel Blount (5), J.T. Thomas, Marv Woodson, Brady Keys, Dean Derby, Jack Butler (4), Art Jones
- SS Troy Polamalu (8), Carnell Lake (4), Donnie Shell (5), Mike Wagner (2)
- FS Ryan Clark, Glen Edwards (2)
- PK Chris Boswell, Gary Anderson (3), Roy Gerela (2), Mike Clark
- P Bobby Walden
- RS Antonio Brown, Rod Woodson
|NFL MVP Winners|
Defensive Player of the Year Awards winners
|NFL Defensive Player of the Year|
Rookie of the Year Award winners
Super Bowl MVPs
|Super Bowl MVP winners|
NFL All-Decade Teams
The following Steelers were named to NFL All-Decade Teams (and 75th Anniversary All-Time Team selected in 1994). Only those who spent time with Pittsburgh during the respective decades are listed.
NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
No players selected
NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
Terry Bradshaw, QB (1970–83)
Franco Harris, RB (1972–83)
Lynn Swann, WR (1974–82)
Mike Webster, C (1974–88)
L. C. Greenwood, DE (1969–81)
Joe Greene, DT (1969–81)
Jack Lambert, MLB (1974–84)
Jack Ham, OLB (1971–82)
Chuck Noll, Coach (1969–91)
NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
Dermontti Dawson, C (1988–2000)
Kevin Greene, LB (1993–95)
Hardy Nickerson, LB (1987–92)
Levon Kirkland, LB (1992–2000)
Rod Woodson, CB (1987–96)
Carnell Lake, S (1989–98)
Gary Anderson, K (1982–94)
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
Johnny Unitas, QB (1955)
Marion Motley, FB (1955)
Mike Webster, C (1974–88)
Joe Greene, DT (1969–81)
Jack Lambert, LB (1974–84)
Jack Ham, LB (1971–82)
Mel Blount, CB (1970–83)
Rod Woodson, CB (1987–96)
In 2007, in celebration of the franchise's 75th season, the team announced an updated All-Time team of the 33 best players who have ever played for the Steelers. This team supplanted the previous All-Time team of 24 players named as part of the 50th anniversary commemoration in 1982.
Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year
The regional Dapper Dan Charities has since 1939 named the "Sportsman of the Year" in the Pittsburgh region. 18 Steelers have won the award in 22 events:
- 1941 Aldo Donelli
- 1942 Bill Dudley
- 1946 Bill Dudley
- 1950 Joe Geri
- 1952 Red Dawson
- 1955 John Michelosen
- 1962 Lou Michaels
- 1962 John Michelosen
- 1968 Dick Hoak
- 1972 Chuck Noll
- 1974 Joe Greene
- 1975 Terry Bradshaw
- 1977 Franco Harris
- 1984 John Stallworth
- 1985 Louis Lipps
- 1992 Bill Cowher
- 1994 Bill Cowher
- 1997 Jerome Bettis
- 2001 Kordell Stewart
- 2004 Ben Roethlisberger
- 2005 Jerome Bettis
- 2008 Mike Tomlin
Hall of Honor
|Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Honor|
|N°||Name||Position||Years With Club||Inducted|
|35||Bill Dudley||HB||1942, 1945–46||2017|
|35||John Henry Johnson||FB||1960–65||2017|
|15||Johnny "Blood" McNally||FB
|—||Art Rooney, Sr.||Founder
Chairman of the Board
|—||Dan Rooney, Sr.||President
|34||Andy Russell||LB||1963, 1966–76||2017|
The Steelers have had 16 coaches through their history. They have cycled through the least amount of head coaches in the modern NFL history. Their first coach was Forrest Douds, who coached them to a 3–6–2 record in 1933. Chuck Noll had the longest term as head coach with the Steelers; he is one of only four coaches to coach a single NFL team for 23 years. Hired prior to the 2007 season, the Steelers current coach is Mike Tomlin.
Pittsburgh Steelers staff
Offensive coordinator history
Defensive coordinator history
As of 2006, the Steelers' flagship radio stations were WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM. Both stations are owned by iHeartMedia. Games are also available on 51 radio stations in Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, Ohio, and Northern West Virginia. The announcers are Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin. Craig Wolfley is the sideline reporter. Myron Cope, the longtime color analyst and inventor of the "Terrible Towel", retired after the 2004 season, and died in 2008.
Pre-season games not shown on one of the national broadcasters are seen on CBS O&O KDKA-TV, channel 2; sister CW O&O WPCW, channel 19; and AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. KDKA-TV's Bob Pompeani and former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch do the announcing for the pre-season games, as well as the two hosting the pre-game program Steelers Kickoff during the regular season prior to the national airing of The NFL Today. Pompeani and former Steelers lineman Chris Hoke also host the Xfinity Xtra Point following the game on days when CBS does not have that week's NFL doubleheader. When CBS has a week's doubleheader, the show airs on WPCW. Coach Mike Tomlin's weekly press conference is shown live on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. Both Batch and Hoke replaced former Steelers lineman Edmund Nelson, who retired from broadcasting in 2015.
Thursday Night Football broadcasts are shown locally on KDKA, while national ESPN broadcasts are shown locally on WTAE-TV, channel 4. (WTAE-TV is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which owns a 20% stake in ESPN.) By virtue of being members of the AFC, most of the Steelers' games air on CBS except for home games against NFC opponents, which air locally on WPGH-TV, which is a Fox affiliate. NBC Sunday Night Football games are carried by WPXI, channel 11, in the market.
The Steelers hold a national contract with Grupo Imagen for radio rights to their games in Mexico; Imagen broadcasts the Steelers on their stations in 17 Mexican cities.
Figures with broadcasting résumés
The Steelers franchise has a rich history of producing well-known sportscasters over the years. The most famous of these is probably Myron Cope, who served as a Steelers radio color commentator for 35 seasons (1970–2004).
Several former Steelers players have gone on to careers in media after completing their playing careers.
The Steelers Digest is the only official newspaper for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has been published for 22 years and is currently published by Dolphin/Curtis Publishing in Miami, Florida, which also handles several other publications. The newspaper is very widely acknowledged by Steelers fans. Issues are mailed out to paying subscribers weekly through the season after every regular season game and continues through playoffs as long as the Steelers do. After a Super Bowl victory, a bonus issue is published, which is followed by a draft preview, draft recap, and training camp edition every other month, then leading into the pre-season. There are typically 24 issues of the paper within a publishing year. The newspaper is listed on the official Steelers.com page.
Usage in popular culture
The Steelers success over several decades has permeated film and literature. The Steelers are portrayed in the following big-budget Hollywood films:
- The January 11, 1975 episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show used the team's first Super Bowl as the plot device.
- Black Sunday in 1977
- Heaven Can Wait in 1978
- Smokey and the Bandit II in 1980
- Fighting Back in 1980
- Hey Kid, Catch! in 1980
- ...All the Marbles in 1981
- Evening Shade (TV series) 1990–1994
- The Waterboy cameo by Bill Cowher in 1998
- The Longest Yard in 2005
- The Chief a theater production.
- Black and Yellow in 2010.
- The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 features several Steelers players as the fictional Gotham Rogues, which was filmed in Heinz Field
- Mad Men's April 14, 2013 episode has Don Draper, Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling meeting with two HJ Heinz executives. The executives are told that not only would the ad firm have given them tickets to the Steelers' November 19, 1967 game at the Giants, the firm would have worked it so that the Steelers would have won (they lost 20–28).
- Concussion in 2015 features players from the team suffering from CTE.
The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research
The Steelers helped launch the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research in November 2016 by donating $1 million. The Foundation, started by Steelers president Art Rooney II, focuses on education and research regarding brain injuries and sports-related concussions.
In June 2017, the Steelers announced an inaugural charity walk to raise money for the foundation.
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