Steelers Dec 4, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; The helmet of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field during warm up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Pittsburgh Steelers were defined by their success in the 1970s when they became the first NFL dynasty of the Super Bowl era.

They’ve had plenty of success since then as well and are currently tied with the New England Patriots for the most Super Bowl victories of all time (6). 32 players from the franchise are also currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

All of that makes it pretty difficult to narrow down their ten best players of all time, but we’ll give it a shot. Here are the ten best Pittsburgh Steelers of all time.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw (12)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw (12) in action. Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK

10. Terry Bradshaw, quarterback

Before Joe Montana came along, Terry Bradshaw was the gold standard of Super Bowl quarterbacks. Bradshaw led those mighty Steelers teams of the 1970s to four Super Bowl victories which was unheard of until Tom Brady showed up. Bradshaw is not only a four-time Super Bowl winner but also a two-time Super Bowl MVP and the NFL MVP in 1976. He is also a part of the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bradshaw ended his career with 27,989 yards passing and 212 touchdown passes. The ironic thing is that despite how good Bradshaw was back in his day, he didn’t feel like he was respected enough by his peers and head coach Chuck Noll. In fact, early on, Bradshaw asked to be traded, but Noll refused. Noll told him “You’re going to be great” and he was right.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis runs the ball during Super Bowl XL
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis runs the ball during Super Bowl XL. Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

9. Jerome Bettis, running back

The “Bus” played his first few years in the NFL with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams but didn’t become the NFL running back we remember him as until he came to the Steelers. Bettis has his best years with the team, rushing for over 1,000 yards five straight years, with his best year coming in 1997 when he rushed for 1,665 yards and 7 touchdowns (9 total). Bettis also is a Super Bowl Champion, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Player of the Year in 1996, and six-time Pro Bowler. The Notre Dame product ended his NFL career with over 13,600 yards rushing, 91 rushing touchdowns, and 34 receiving scores.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

8. Lynn Swann, wide receiver

Along with John Stallworth, Lynn Swann was part of that Steelers wide receiver duo that helped the franchise win four Super Bowls. Along with his championships, Swann is a three-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP, NFL Man of the Year, and part of the NFL 1970s All-Decade team. Some questioned if Swann should be in the Hall of Fame because he only had 5,463 receiving yards, but he is regarded as one of the best to ever play the position. Swann was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

7. Rod Woodson, cornerback/safety

Considered one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the NFL, Rod Woodson anchored the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ defense in the late 1980s and 1990s en route to a Super Bowl appearance in 1995. He would later win one with the Baltimore Ravens as well. The 1993 NFL Defensive Player of the Year still holds the NFL records for fumble recoveries (32) by a defensive player and interceptions returned for touchdown (12). The six-time first-team All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

6. John Stallworth, wide receiver

Like Lynn Swann, John Stallworth was an anchor on the Steelers’ 1970s offense. A fourth-round draft pick out of Alabama A&M, Stallworth played like a first-round pick throughout his NFL career. Stallworth is a four-time Super Bowl champion, a three-time Pro Bowler, and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1984, his best season as a pro. That year, he had 1,395 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Stallworth spent his entire 13-year career with the Steelers and finished with 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7).
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback

While Bradshaw was the signal-caller of four Super Bowl championships, we’re giving the nod to Ben Roethlisberger for not only winning two titles of his own but also being one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Roethlisberger holds the NFL record for most 500-yard games (4), most career-perfect passer rating (4), most completions in a game (47), and had the most wins as a rookie quarterback with 13. His .710 regular-season winning percentage as a starter is among the best in NFL history as well. Roethlisberger ended his career with over 64,088 passing yards and 438 total touchdowns. Off-field issues aside, it’s only a matter of time before he joins the others on this list in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

4. Mel Blount, cornerback

Before there was a Revis Island, no self-respecting quarterback would ever try to test Mel Blount. And those who did would pay for it. Blount is still considered one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. In his NFL career, he had 57 interceptions, was a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time Super Bowl champion, and 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He made the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade team as well as its 75th and 100th-anniversary teams. Blount’s best year with the Steelers was in 1975 when he had an amazing 11 interceptions. Known as a truly physical cornerback who could overpower a wide receiver, Blount was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker #58 Jack Lambert. Credit: Photo By Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

3. Jack Lambert, linebacker

Those 1970s Steelers defenses wouldn’t be nearly as good if they hadn’t had Jack Lambert. Lambert was the Lawerence Taylor of his time, tough and mean but also extremely talented. Lambert is a four-time Super Bowl champion and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976. The nine-time Pro Bowler is part of the NFL’s 1970s and 1980s All-Decade teams as well as both the 75th and 100th-anniversary teams. He ended his NFL career with 1,479 tackles, 29 interceptions, 17 fumble recoveries, and eight sacks. It’s worth noting that the NFL didn’t start tallying sacks until 1982, so Lambert probably had a lot more than that, too. The Steelers all-timer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

2. Franco Harris, running back

When the Steelers announced that beloved star Franco Harris had suddenly passed away in 2022, it was devastating news. Harris was still such a beloved figure in Steelers’ history, so much so that he had his own fanbase in “Franco’s Army.” The running back was known for many things during his time in Pittsburgh but his most memorable play was the “Immaculate Reception” in which he caught a deflected pass to help the Steelers win their first-ever playoff game and kickstart their 1970s dynasty. Harris was not only a great running back, (12,120 rushing yards and 91 rushing scores) but he was a great receiver as well with 2,287 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches. Harris is part of the NFL 1970s All-Decade team, a nine-time Pro Bowler, won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1972, and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Joe Green (75)
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Joe Green (75). Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

1. Joe Greene, defensive tackle

If there is one player who personified the toughness and meanness of those great Steelers teams in the 1970s, it’s Joe Greene. They called him “Mean Joe” for a reason. A first-round pick in 1969 out of North Texas, Greene immediately made an impact in Pittsburgh. Named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year that season, he would go on to be named Defensive Player of the Year twice, make eight total All-Pro teams, be named to 10 Pro Bowls, and help the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles. A part of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team, 75th-anniversary team, and 100-year anniversary team, Greene is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, and his number 75 is one of only three retired by the franchise.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.