The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who is the greatest 4-3 defensive end in Steelers history?
While the Steelers have been running out of a 3-4 front for nearing 40 decades now, they still spent the majority of their history from the 4-3 front, which helped them win their first four Super Bowl titles on the strength of the dominant Steel Curtain defensive line.
Now, I’m pretty confident that I know what the popular answer to this question is going to be: the greatest 4-3 defensive end in Steelers history is L.C. Greenwood, who should be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A 10th-round pick from a HBCU in 1969, part of the same draft that brought in Joe Greene, Greenwood played through the 1981 season with the Steelers and earned six Pro Bowl nods, plus two selections as a first-team All-Pro in the first two Super Bowl years of 1874 and 1975.
So, like yesterday, let’s assume there’s a clear runaway favorite in Greenwood. Who do you put next in line, for the sake of discussion?
Greenwood’s running mate, Dwight White, deserves recognition here as well. A two-time Pro Bowler himself and once All-Pro (second-team), he played for the Steelers from 1971 when he was drafted through 1980. His safety at the outset of Super Bowl IX scored the first points in the championship game in team history.
Not to be ignored is Bill McPeak, who went the three Pro Bowls during his nine seasons in Pittsburgh from 1949 to 1957. The Pennsylvania native recorded three safeties over the course of his career, during which he played with the likes of Ernie Stautner.
Lou Michaels, who was also their kicker, played in Pittsburgh from 1961 to 1963 and made the Pro Bowl twice in those three seasons. Ben McGee ran just up to the championship years, last playing in 1972, making two Pro Bowls along the way.