The NFL has certainly made it a point over the course of the past year to celebrate the upcoming 50th installment of the Super Bowl, the league’s championship game, in doing so reaching back into the past to relive the game’s history. Part of that celebration included a rebroadcasting of the first Super Bowl, which had not aired since its original broadcast.
Among the additional celebratory events that the league has dug out in honor of Super Bowl 50 next Sunday was to unveil an all-time Super Bowl ‘Golden Team’, made up of the absolute finest performers in the history of the previous 49 installments of the NFL’s championship game. And as you might expect, the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty of the 1970s is well-represented, both on offense and on defense.
Only 27 individuals earned the honors, among them 11 offensive players, 12 defensives players—to account for both four defensive linemen and four linebackers—three specialists, and one head coach. There was no ‘second-team’ that is customary with the All-Pro list and other, similar lists of years past.
Representing the Steelers on offense are running back Franco Harris, wide receiver Lynn Swann, and center Mike Webster, all three of whom are members of the Hall of Fame. Notable absentees are fellow Hall of Famers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and wide receiver John Stallworth.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Steel Curtain occupies a full third of the roster, representing each level of the defense. On the defensive line is, of course, the great ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, only the second Steeler ever to have his number retired. Joining him in the secondary is cornerback Mel Blount, whose play in the mid-70s helped usher in new rules to legislate contact between wide receivers and defensive backs.
Half of the linebackers to make the list were also teammates with Green and Blount on the four championship teams of the 1970s, with Jack Lambert being recognized among the inside linebackers and Jack Ham receiving the honor to represent the outside linebackers.
All four defenders are also members of the Hall of Fame as well, as is the late Chuck Noll, who is representing the Steelers as the sole coach assigned to the Super Bowl ‘Golden Team’. Noll, of course, is largely credited with turning around a bumbling franchise into the class of the league.
With players such as Greene, Harris, Ham, and Webster, Noll helped build the first true dynasty of the Super Bowl era, following the merger between the two major leagues, emerging victories in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV, all within a four-year span. He and the Steelers became the first to win three Super Bowl titles, and then four.
The Raiders, Cowboys, and 49ers are the other two teams with high representation among players who are best known for having played for those franchises, but none amass the representation gathered by the Steelers from what remains the greatest dynasty the sport has ever seen to date.