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Roethlisberger, not Bradshaw, leads Steelers' all-time team

DALLAS --'s Dave Dameshek and Adam Rank break down the all-time rosters of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, two of the most storied -- and winningest -- franchises in NFL history. Rank is the home team, meaning he breaks down the Packers, and Dameshek puts together the ultimate Steelers team.

Here are the Steelers (starters in caps):


BEN ROETHLISBERGER, Terry Bradshaw, Kordell Stewart
That's right -- I've got Roethlisberger over Bradshaw. Let the bellyaching begin! Before you dash off angry missives about how dumb I am, consider that -- for all of Bradshaw's big-game greatness (proven by those four rings and two Super Bowl MVP trophies) -- he never had to overcome what Roethlisberger has: an atrocious offensive line. Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl two years ago behind that line and is now 60 minutes away from doing it again. The good news is, if Roethlisberger doesn't come out of the gate on fire, Bradshaw is there to take over. Bradshaw was no stranger to platooning early in his career, splitting snaps with Joe Gilliam. Why is Kordell the third-stringer? Because barring both the two guys ahead of him suffering mysterious MCL injuries, he won't be under center. In the meantime, he'll serve the offense well with a return to his more popular alter ego, "Slash." And besides, who else is there? We know what Neil O'Donnell does when the pressure is on in the big game.

Running backs

FRANCO HARRIS, JEROME BETTIS, Barry Foster, Willie Parker, Rocky Bleier, Merril Hoge
Franco -- maybe the most underrated Hall of Fame running back (yes, I realize that's an oxymoron) -- paired with the most durable big back ever, the Bus. Who's the fullback and who's the halfback? Who cares? Good luck stopping them. "Fast Willie" makes the team as our change-of-pace back, and Merrill Hoge will serve the team well as an out-of-the-backfield pass-catcher (that is, if he ever makes it onto the field). And good ol' Rocky? Well, he's there to provide inspiration and grit.

Wide receivers

LYNN SWANN, JOHN STALLWORTH, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Louis Lipps, Yancey Thigpen
Don't get caught up in their stats, fantasyheads -- Swann and Stallworth are two of the all-time best, especially in big games. You're probably more familiar with Swann's work because of the iconic midfield catch in Super Bowl X, but Stallworth made more than his share of huge plays on the big stage. The two fourth quarter bombs in XIV pulled that game out, and his two touchdown grabs in XIII -- one a then-Super Bowl-record 75-yard sprint, the other a twisting catch of a Bradshaw floater between two Cowboys DBs. Plus, Hines Ward?! And Santonio Holmes?! That makes three Super Bowl MVPs. Good luck stopping them. Wait ... did I say that already? Oh, and Yancy: that knocking you hear is Mike Wallace. Another couple seasons at this level, and he gets your spot.

Tight ends

HEATH MILLER, Bennie Cunningham, Eric Green
They block well, they catch even better. Anything else you want out of the position?

Offensive line

Tackles: LARRY BROWN, LEON SEARCY, Jon Kolb, Marvel Smith, Tunch Ilkin
Guards: DERMONTTI DAWSON, ALAN FANECA, Steve Courson, Carlton Haselrig

Webster is the "only" Hall of Famer in this group (with Dawson a finalist this year and Faneca a solid future candidate), but there's plenty of experience across the line. We can also expect Dawson (who played one season at guard before switching to center) and Searcy to play with additional fire because of the embarrassing lack of Super Bowl rings on their fingers.

Onto the defense, where the seemingly big question is: 4-3 or 3-4? But clearly, the correct answer is 3-4. Too many great LBs.

Defensive line

Ends: MEAN JOE GREENE, L.C. GREENWOOD, Dwight White, Ernie Stautner
Tackles: CASEY HAMPTON, Gary Dunn, Fats Holmes

We're sliding Mean Joe (the NFL Network's top Steeler of all-time) over to end in the 3-4, where he'll combine with Hampton to form the most impenetrable duo in the history of football. Power sweep? Meet the Steel Curtain. If coach Vince Lombardi is foolish enough to try and run on this defense, his team will be lucky to break even. Literally. They'll have negative rushing yards. (Side note: I'm not sure if Holmes deserves to make the team over Aaron Smith, but in the name of justice, all members of the original Steel Curtain front four must to be on the team.)


Outside: JACK HAM, JAMES HARRISON, Joey Porter, Andy Russell
Inside: JACK LAMBERT, JAMES FARRIOR, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland

Linebacker is unquestionably the richest position for the most successful organization of the Super Bowl Era. Unfortunately for guys like LaMarr Woodley, Bryan Hinkle, Kevin Greene, Jason Gildon, and David Little -- who'd be starting on other franchises' all-time Ds -- don't even make the cut on this dominant team.

Defensive backs

Cornerbacks: MEL BLOUNT, ROD WOODSON, Ike Taylor, Dwayne Woodruff
Safeties: TROY POLAMALU, MIKE WAGNER, Donnie Shell, Carnell Lake

Poor Don Hutson. With zero chance of the Packers having success on the ground and no other worthy receivers (Antonio Freeman? Robert Brooks? Get serious!), the offensive production will have to come down to him. Unfortunately for Donny, he never went up against anyone like either Blount or Woodson, two of the best half-dozen corners to ever play. Ever. Wagner plays ballhawk, Lake provides versatility, Shell punishes anyone who dares to run downfield, and Polamalu dominates in which ever fashion the game dictates.

Special teams

Kicker: Gary Anderson
Punter: Craig Colquitt
Returners: Woodson/Lipps/Swann

I'd say the odds are better than 50/50 that the Steelers will get at least one touchdown on a return.


Chaz Noll
He's too often ignored by the national media when history's greatest coaches are discussed, but the man Myron Cope called the Emperor Chaz Noll the man most responsible for building the Steelers of the '70s (also known as: The best team ever).

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Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore (12) makes a deep catch as Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Kyzir White (44) trails on the play during an NFL football game , Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif.

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