Strong effort here from Elliot Harrison on his pass at the all-time Steelers team…but allow me to respond (starters in BOLD):
QB: 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 one Super Bowl (vs Arizona) and lost another (vs Green Bay) in spite of playing behind one of the league’s ten worst lines. 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’s on in the big game.
RB: FRANCO HARRIS, JEROME BETTIS, Barry Foster, Willie Parker, Rocky Bleier, Merrill 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 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.
WR: LYNN SWANN, JOHN STALLWORTH, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Louis Lipps, Antonio Brown
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 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 Cowboy 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 sorry, Yancy Thigpen: you had a good run, but you’ve been replaced A.B, who Ike Taylor says is the best receiver in the game today.
TE: HEATH MILLER, Bennie Cunningham, Eric Green
They block well, they catch even better. Anything else you want out of the position?
OT: LARRY BROWN, LEON SEARCY, Jon Kolb, Marvel Smith, Tunch Ilkin
G: ALAN FANECA, Steve Courson, Carleton Haselrig
C: MIKE WEBSTER
c/G: DERMONTTI DAWSON
Webster and Dawson are the “only” two Hall of Famers in this group (with 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.
DE: MEAN JOE GREENE, LC GREENWOOD, Dwight White, Ernie Stautner
NT: CASEY HAMPTON, Gary Dunn, Fats Holmes
We’re sliding Mean Joe (the NFL Network’s “#1 Steeler of All-Time) over to end in the 3-4, where he’ll combine with Casey Hampton to form the most impenetrable duo in the history of football. Power sweep? Meet the Steel Curtain. Even Vince Lombardi’s or Jimmy Johnson’s running attacks would be lucky to break even. Literally. They might even have negative rushing yards. [Side note: I’m not sure if Fats 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.]
OLB: JACK HAM, JAMES HARRISON, Joey Porter, Andy Russell
ILB: JACK LAMBERT, JAMES FARRIOR, Levon Kirkland, Lawrence Timmons
Linebacker is unquestionably the richest position for the most successful organization of the Super Bowl Era. Stars like Greg Lloyd, 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.
CB: MEL BLOUNT, ROD WOODSON, Ike Taylor, Dwayne Woodruff
Blount & Woodson: Two of the five best corners to ever play. Ever.
SS: TROY POLAMALU, Donnie Shell
FS: MIKE WAGNER
CB/S: Carnell Lake
Wagner plays ballhawk, Lake provides versatility, Shell punishes anyone who dares to run downfield, and Polamalu dominates in which ever fashion the game dictates.
K: Gary Anderson
P: Craig Colquitt
KR/PR: handled by Woodson/Lipps/Swann
I’d say the odds are better than 50/50 that the Steelers would get at least one touchdown on a return per game with this trio.
HEAD COACH: 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 is also the Man Most Responsible for Building The Steelers of the ‘70s (also known as: The Best Team Ever).