A very happy President’s Day to you and to our friends in the north, a merry Family Day.
Since we’re on the subject of Presidents, let me throw this question out to you, Steelers’ Nation. Who would be the four people on your personal Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mt. Rushmore? Can be any four, player, coach, owner, for any reason you like. Clearly, there are no wrong answers here unless you, like, choose Kent Graham or something. Don’t choose Kent Graham.
Tell us the who and the why in the comments below.
I’ll run through my selections in no particular order.
1. Art Rooney Sr
The Chief. The creator. The iconic face of a franchise that is chock full of them. Though he had his faults, a much too laissez faire attitude towards his coaches once he hired them, he’s the one who kept them afloat during those difficult first 40 years of existence.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone say one bad thing about the Chief, a man whose door was always open, cigar in hand. And once he got it right by hiring Chuck Noll, the team flourished, and the Steelers’ dynasty was born. You can’t have a proper Mt. Rushmore without him.
2. Joe Greene
The player equivalent of the Chief, in my mind. For a franchise that has so many Hall of Famers, so many great players, the fact that Greene is the consensus best player in history speaks to how stupidly talented he was. And this was a man whose prime was cut short by a nerve injury in his shoulder; who knows how much more dominant he’d have been had that never happened.
He was the first selection under Noll, a too-emotional-for-his-own good rookie out of North Texas. Noll reigned him in but it was Greene who accepted the coaching and then unleashed his rage on every QB in the league. The focal point of the best defense in the 70s. Easy selection.
3. Chuck Noll
The Mr. Miyagi to Greene’s Karate Kid. Noll was no-nonsense but had a deep respect for his players – never venturing into their post-game sauna room, for example – even if he didn’t always outwardly show it. It’s one of the most impressive and quickest rebuilds in league history, taking a lovable loser and making them competitive within four years and World Champions in six. That paved away for the dynasty of the 70s. The draft classes were legendary, the teams even better, the legacy etched in history and for this exercise, etched in granite.
4. Hines Ward
Ward is a selection that even surprises me a little bit because as you probably know, I don’t even think the dude is a Hall of Famer. It was important for me to select someone from a different era to truly capture the history of the Steelers, not just the 70s. Ward was not the best player of this generation but he embodied what it meant to be a Steeler as much as anyone. Fierce. Competitive. A winner. And one heck of a smile.
Because Mt. Rushmore isn’t just about who is the best. It’s who represents the country in the best way. And for Pittsburgh, in the modern era, that was Ward.