Sidney Thornton, who played his entire NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and helped them win two Super Bowl championships, died at 68.
The cause of Thornton’s death was not announced but the Steelers shared a commemoration for the former running back on social media.
We are saddened by the loss of former Steelers RB Sidney Thornton. pic.twitter.com/LpKsIbJ1Xq
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 1, 2023
A star player at Northwestern State, Thornton set then-school records in rushing attempts (537), rushing touchdowns (25), and rushing yards (2,662) before going pro. He was selected in the second round of the 1977 NFL Draft and played for the Steelers until 1982.
He played in 74 games in that time, garnering 1,512 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 46 passes for 515 yards and six touchdowns. Thornton was part of the franchise’s 1978 and 1979 Super Bowl-winning teams.
Sad to hear about the passing of former Steelers RB Sidney Thornton. When I think of him, I always remember his 75-yard run against the Colts in 1979, the longest play the team had that season. #Steelers #NFL pic.twitter.com/FAblQVpsey
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) February 1, 2023
His most memorable game came in the 1979 playoffs when, despite being a backup to Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, he scampered for 52 yards and a touchdown in a 34-14 win over the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round.
After leaving the NFL in 1982, Thornton returned to the game in 1984 for the Oklahoma Outlaws of the USFL, rushing for 288 yards on 101 carries in his lone season with the team.
Sadly, Thornton suffered from dementia later in life, likely due to the impact of playing football for so long, and his struggles were reported on in 2018 by Casey Viera.
Something special coming for you tonight at 10: The story of Sidney Thornton, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the @Steelers who's lasting effects of an NFL career are part of the reason such precautionary measures are taken in the league today. pic.twitter.com/U1YVaf8YvN
— Casey Viera (@Casey_Viera) February 1, 2018