Last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers won a thriller against the New York Jets that sent them to the Super Bowl. This latest trip ties the Steelers with the Dallas Cowboys for the most all-time Super Bowl appearances with eight. Pittsburgh is 6-1 in its previous seven trips.
When the Steelers take the field on February 6 against the Green Bay Packers, it will mark the team’s third Super Bowl appearance in the past six seasons, which arguably qualifies the team as a dynasty. That got me thinking, How does the current Steeler dynasty compare to the famed Steeler dynasty of the 1970’s?
It’s always hard comparing teams of different eras, especially since the current teams have to deal with free agency where players seem to move every couple of years. Anyway, here is how I think the two Super Bowl-winning dynasties stack up:
In the 1970’s, the Steelers were led by Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, the club’s all-time leading passing leader. Pittsburgh also had the running talents of Franco Harris, another Hall of Fame member who is 13th all-time on the NFL’s career rushing list. At the wide out position, the Steelers were gifted with the presence of Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. All of these offensive threats came together perfectly, resulting in a dynasty never to forget.
In the past five years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a steady variety of offensive weapons. Ben Roethlisberger has had the reigns for this dynasty and has kept his team in Super Bowl contention. Although the quarterback position has been a one-man job for the past five years, the running back position hasn’t been so. There was Jerome Bettis in the Super Bowl XL victory, Willie Parker for the Super Bowl XLIII title team, and now Rashard Mendenhall. The wide receivers of this era have been names such as Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, and Hines Ward – good players, but not ones that will make you forget the past.
Edge: 70’s Steelers
In the 70’s, the “Steel Curtain” wreaked havoc on the field. The famous defensive line consisted of Hall of Famer “Mean” Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White. Hall of Famers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham were menacing linebackers. All-time great and Hall of Famer Mel Blount dominated at cornerback and Donnie Shell was a shutdown safety.
In the past decade, the Steelers have once again brought defense to the forefront. However, these Steelers lack the big-name stars. Linebackers such as the hard-hitting (and heavily-fined) James Harrison and James Farrior fill the shoes of Lambert and Ham. In the secondary, Troy Polamalu is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. The current team relies more on team defense and schemes than their predecessors did.
Edge: 70’s Steelers
No matter which era team you think is best, one thing that can’t be debated is this organization’s success. It starts at the top, with the Rooney family, who has owned the team since its inception. Their blueprint for success has trickled down through Coaches Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and now Mike Tomlin.
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying the Steelers are one of the all-time great organizations in NFL history.