Ordinarily, I’d share my thoughts on this week’s game. But let’s face it, Monday night wasn’t an athletic competition as much as it was the Steelers opening a big ‘ol can of the ass whip on the Baltimore Ravens. Since that can was finished by the second quarter, there really isn’t much more to say.
The best part of the game was halftime, when the Steelers honored their 75th Anniversary Team. Fans voted on the players and, happily, they mostly got it right (more on that in a minute). The team was heavy with players from the 70’s Steel Dynasty team but if seeing Franco Harris or Terry Bradshaw back in their uniforms once again didn’t bring a smile to your face, you might as well turn in your membership card to Steeler Nation.
For those who missed it, here’s the team:
Joe Greene – Defensive Tackle (1969-81)
L.C. Greenwood – Defensive End (1969-81)
Casey Hampton – Nose Tackle (2001-Present)
Ernie Stautner – Defensive Tackle (1950-63)
Dwight White – Defensive End (1971-80)
Jack Ham – Outside Linebacker (1971-82)
Jack Lambert – Middle Linebacker (1974-84)
Greg “F’N” Lloyd – Outside Linebacker (1988-97)
Joey Porter – Outside Linebacker (1999-2006)
I have to pause here and quibble with the last choice. Remember when I said the fans “mostly” got the voting right? Well, I hope you do since you just read it four sentences ago. Porter was a good player, no question. But All-Time great? Please. I think people tend to remember Porter as being better than he was because he played great ball in those four playoff games during the miracle run of 2005. Clearly, the Miami Dolphins do, because they surely didn’t notice he only had 5 sacks last year. Or maybe they did. They’re not exactly known for their keen judge of talent.
I’m not sure how he got on this team to be honest with you. From what I heard, he was the only member of the team to get booed when his name was announced. I suspect there was some ballot box stuffing or other shenanigans afoot. So, who should’ve been on the team?
Levon Kirkland. Talk about playing great in the playoffs, does anybody remember Super Bowl XXX? He was a one-man wrecking crew, running all over the field in an effort to kibosh the nefarious plans of Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowpies. Kirkland was the anchor of those awesome Steeler defenses of the 90’s. He was one of the most amazing middle linebackers to ever play because he was huge (6’1 and he always weighed around 300 pounds) but fast enough to cover tight ends and drop back in zone coverage. Nobody with so much beef has moved that nimbly since Britney’s performance at the VMAs.
Andy Russell – Outside Linebacker (1963, 1966-76)
Mel Blount – Cornerback (1970-83)
Jack Butler – Defensive Back (1951-59)
Carnell Lake – Safety (1989-98)
Troy Polamalu – Safety (2003-Present)
Donnie Shell – Safety (1974-87)
Rod Woodson – Cornerback (1987-96)
Terry Bradshaw – Quarterback (1970-83)
Rocky Bleier – Running Back (1968, 1970-80)
Jerome Bettis – Running Back (1996-05)
Somebody needs to tell me the name of Jerome’s tailor. I’m a bit on the husky side myself and that dude does the best camouflage job I’ve ever seen. Did anybody see Bettis at halftime? I realize that he’s retired so he can let himself go but DAMN. He looked humongous. Seriously, where’s Dan Marino and his amazing weight loss plan when you need them? Somebody call Nutra-System, STAT. When they cut to him next Sunday, I’m going to be on the look out for Carrie Fisher in a shiny metal bikini.
Franco Harris – Running Back (1972-83)
Bennie Cunningham – Tight End (1976-85)
Elbie Nickel – Tight End (1947-57)
John Stallworth – Wide Receiver (1974-87)
Lynn Swann – Wide Receiver (1974-82)
Hines Ward – Wide Receiver (1998-Present)
Stallworth and Swann? Do we really need them both? What about Louis Lipps? Anybody who caught 359 passes for 6,031 yards and 39 touchdowns while also making a damn fine cookie deserves a spot on this team.
Besides, Stallworth and Swann had the advantage of playing with Terry Bradshaw. Who did Louis having throwing to him? Mark Malone? His greatest talent was the ability to grow a swank mustache.
In other news, I heard it on good authority that Swannie received 42,329 votes. Perhaps not so coincidentally, that’s exactly how many votes he received when he ran for governor in 2006.
Larry Brown – Offensive Tackle (1971-84)
Dermontti Dawson – Center (1988-00)
Alan Faneca – Guard (1998-Present)
Tunch Ilkin – Offensive Tackle (1980-92)
Jon Kolb – Offensive Tackle (1969-81)
Mike Webster – Center (1974-88)
Gary Anderson – Kicker (1982-94)
Bobby Walden – Punter (1968-77)
No problems with those two. But here is where the most glaring omission takes place. What about Willis Hope Thompson?
What about Weegie?
No 75th anniversary could be complete without one scrappy, hard-working, blue-collar player that epitomizes what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. The soul of this team has always been the fact we’re not glitzy, we’re not flashy, and we’re not slick. We’re a hard-nosed, gritty, smash mouth team from a blue-collar city that likes its beer and its kielbasa.
Weegie Thompson deserves a place on the 75th anniversary team simply for epitomizing what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. He never put up big numbers. He was never the go-to receiver. But Weegie shouldered on. He made the blocks, he covered the kicks, he busted the wedges… All with a smile on his face and a Flock Of Seagulls haircut on top of his head.
Anyway, looking over the names on this team brings back a flood of memories over a lifetime of being a Steeler fan. We have been blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to having talented football players. So to every one of them, from Franco Harris to Walter Abercrombie, from Hines Ward to Weegie Thompson, I say to them all, “thanks for the memories.”