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Published: March 18, 2014 at 01:03 p.m.
Updated: March 18, 2014 at 02:30 p.m.

All-Time Team - Pittsburgh Steelers

No franchise has had more Super Bowl success than the club Art Rooney Sr. built with racetrack money 81 years ago, and picking an all-time team for the "Sixburgh" Steelers is no small feat.

This organization has two Hall of Famers at every level of defense, from the front line to the linebackers to the secondary. Oh, and the offense has quarterbacks, running backs, wideouts and offensive linemen in the Hall as well, plus a ton of "Hall of Very Good" players.

So how do we do it? Very carefully, with an eye toward how these Steelers legends stack up with other NFL icons. Remember, this is the best starting lineup, not a list of the best 25 players in Steelers history. Share your thoughts at the usual place: @HarrisonNFL.

Let's get to it ...

25 Photos Total

  • Quarterback - Terry Bradshaw 25

    Harry Cabluck/Associated Press

    Quarterback - Terry Bradshaw

    Yeah, we know ... Ben Roethlisberger's numbers are better. It's also a different game now than it was in the 1970s, and Bradshaw is one of just two quarterbacks -- along with Joe Montana -- to have won four Super Bowls.

  • Running back - Franco Harris 24

    National Football League

    Running back - Franco Harris

    One of the best players of the 1970s, Harris seems to have been slightly forgotten about, at least in terms of his being great. He is remembered more for the Immaculate Reception and, by some, for a slow end to his career. He rushed for more than 12,000 yards in Pittsburgh.

  • Fullback - Jerome Bettis 23

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Fullback - Jerome Bettis

    Bettis was not technically a fullback for the vast majority of his career, but we're overlooking this slight inconsistency because, with his size, he could have played the position. Bettis is sixth among the NFL's all-time leading rushers, with 13,662 yards.

  • Wide receiver - John Stallworth 22

    Associated Press

    Wide receiver - John Stallworth

    When you count everything -- numbers, championships, big-game catches -- Stallworth, who could go deep or be a possession guy, is the greatest Steelers wideout of all time. His over-the-shoulder grab in Super Bowl XIV is among the best ever.

  • Wide receiver - Hines Ward 21

    Chris Gardner/Associated Press

    Wide receiver - Hines Ward

    Sorry, Lynn Swann; Ward was a better overall player for a longer period of time. Yes, Swann has a spot in the Hall of Fame, but we can thank NFL Films for that. Ward might never join Swann in the Hall, but he's still the franchise leader in catches (1,000), receiving yards (12,083) and touchdowns (85).

  • Tight end -  Heath Miller 20

    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Tight end - Heath Miller

    This just might be the easiest choice on this list. Miller has been the consummate pro: a great teammate, a tough, functional blocker, a guy with soft hands. He's also the best red-zone threat on the team. Through nine seasons, Miller has 466 catches and 5,273 yards -- all-time highs among Steeler tight ends -- plus 40 touchdowns.

  • Offensive tackle - Jon Kolb 19

    National Football League

    Offensive tackle - Jon Kolb

    Considered one of the strongest men in the NFL during his era, Kolb started at tackle for the Steelers' magical run in the 1970s, including all four Super Bowl victories in that decade. Kolb was named an All-Pro by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) in 1979.

  • Offensive tackle - Frank Varrichione 18

    Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers

    Offensive tackle - Frank Varrichione

    OK, we realize you might never have heard of Frank Varrichione. Alas, football was played prior to the 1970s. From 1955 to 1960, Varrichione suited up at tackle in Pittsburgh, playing in every game and missing the Pro Bowl just twice during that six-season stretch.

  • Offensive guard - Alan Faneca 17

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Offensive guard - Alan Faneca

    Faneca is quite simply the greatest guard in Steelers history. As a six-time first-team All-Pro, he was a key reason the club could run the football so effectively with Jerome Bettis. Faneca and Troy Polamalu were the best players on the Steelers team that won Super Bowl XL.

  • Offensive guard - John Nisby 16

    Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers

    Offensive guard - John Nisby

    Nisby was a fine player who made two Pro Bowls in five years at guard for the Steelers. He was also a community leader in the civil rights movement in Pittsburgh. Nisby, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Jackson were the first black players to play in a regular-season game for the Redskins.

  • Center - Mike Webster 15

    National Football League

    Center - Mike Webster

    Webster was a phenomenally strong player whose durability and excellence were unmatched at the center position. He played 17 seasons in the NFL and won four Super Bowls with the Steelers. He narrowly edges another Hall of Famer, Dermontti Dawson.

  • Defensive end - L.C. Greenwood 14

    Associated Press

    Defensive end - L.C. Greenwood

    The tall, lanky Greenwood did not carve an imposing figure in the 1970s, but his athleticism and ability to play the position made him the top defensive end in Steelers history. He also earned six Pro Bowl berths.

  • Defensive end - Aaron Smith 13

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Defensive end - Aaron Smith

    No defensive end played the run better than Smith. Pittsburgh's defense dominated the league in 2005 and 2008, ultimately pushing the Steelers to two more Super Bowl titles. Smith was a leader and dominant force as a 3-4 defensive end in both seasons.

  • Defensive tackle - Joe Greene 12

    Associated Press

    Defensive tackle - Joe Greene

    "Mean" Joe, as he came to be known, was the fourth overall pick of the 1969 NFL Draft. He was also the first selection of the Chuck Noll era. Greene dominated opposing guards in the 1970s and was ultimately named to the NFL's all-time team.

  • Defensive tackle - Ernie Stautner 11

    Pro Football Hall of Fame

    Defensive tackle - Ernie Stautner

    Better known as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator under Tom Landry, Stautner was a force for the Steelers in the 1950s and 1960s, the consummate tough guy who always played at a high level. His No. 70 is the franchise's only retired number.

  • Outside linebacker - Jack Ham 10

    Keith B. Srakocic/Associated Press

    Outside linebacker - Jack Ham

    Ask a longtime Steelers fan -- or the Rooney family -- and you might hear that the greatest player in franchise history wore No. 59. A Hall of Famer who was a part of four Super Bowl-winning teams, Ham was perhaps the most complete linebacker ever to play in the NFL.

  • Outside linebacker - Greg Lloyd 9

    National Football League

    Outside linebacker - Greg Lloyd

    The personality -- that is, the tough personality -- of the Steelers in the '90s was personified by Lloyd. No player showed up to play harder or more physically than this outside linebacker. A three-time first-team All-Pro, Lloyd is still revered in Pittsburgh.

  • Middle linebacker - Jack Lambert 8

    Associated Press

    Middle linebacker - Jack Lambert

    Is this even a choice? Lambert was The Man at middle linebacker in the 1970s, much like Dick Butkus was in the decade before. Lambert imposed his will on games and opponents; he made players pay for roaming in his area. Lambert made nine Pro Bowls in a row.

  • Cornerback - Rod Woodson 7

    National Football League

    Cornerback - Rod Woodson

    It might sound crazy, but from a pure talent and achievement standpoint, Woodson might be the greatest Steeler of them all. The best corner in the AFC in his era, Woodson made the NFL's all-time team prior to his eighth season in the league. He's in the Hall of Fame.

  • Cornerback - Mel Blount 6

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Cornerback - Mel Blount

    A huge corner during his day, Blount was the kind of shutdown guy that all of the premier all-time defenses have. The Steel Curtain was able to rely on Blount to blanket the opposition's top receiver for 14 seasons. His bust resides in the Hall of Fame.

  • Safety - Troy Polamalu 5

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Safety - Troy Polamalu

    I know you're shocked ... OK, obviously Polamalu was going to make this list one way or another. There might not have been a better defensive player in football -- much less in Pittsburgh -- from 2004 to 2008. This guy is a first-ballot Hall of Famer in waiting.

  • Safety - Jack Butler 4

    National Football Leage

    Safety - Jack Butler

    It was difficult leaving Donnie Shell off this list, but Butler was just too good. The Hall of Famer played corner and safety, intercepting a phenomenal 52 passes in 103 games ... that's one pick every other game! He made the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s.

  • Kicker - Gary Anderson 3

    National Football League

    Kicker - Gary Anderson

    This is an easy choice. Anderson is the Steelers' all-time leading scorer with 1,343 points, having kicked for the franchise from 1982 to 1994. He was named to two Pro Bowls while in Pittsburgh, and he's also second in NFL history in points scored (2,434).

  • Punter - Bobby Walden 2

    Jack Thornell/Associated Press

    Punter - Bobby Walden

    Walden was named to the Steelers' all-time team in 2007 after putting together a distinguished career with the franchise from 1968 to 1977. Walden punted on two Super Bowl-winning teams while averaging 41.1 yards per punt in Pittsburgh. He made the Pro Bowl in 1969.

  • Returner - Ray Mathews 1

    Associated Press

    Returner - Ray Mathews

    Mathews was a stud, whether he was playing on offense, returning punts or bringing back kicks. Perhaps the most versatile weapon in Steelers history, Mathews averaged 12.8 yards per punt return with three touchdowns and 25.5 yards per kick. He also made the Pro Bowl twice.

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