After taking a look at the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL offense, it is now time to shift focus to the team’s defense. The heart and soul of the Super Bowl winning team, many members of the defense have pursued interesting professions since the conclusion of their playing days.
DE Aaron Smith
One of the more underrated aspects of the Steelers’ 3-4 defense through the 2000s, Aaron Smith was one of the best at doing the dirty work. The former Steelers’ lineman’s task was to occupy double teams, freeing up opportunities for the team’s outside linebackers. Unfortunately, injuries took their toll on him towards the end of his career as he played just 15 games over his last three seasons before retiring in 2012. He returned to the team shortly after, though not as a player but as a summer scouting intern. As of 2018, the former Steelers’ defensive end was serving as an assistant basketball coach at North Allegheny High School.
NT Casey Hampton
The last of a dying breed, Casey Hampton was one of the last true nose tackles to play in today’s game. As teams moved towards an all out passing attack, nose tackles quickly saw their snaps reduced but do not let that take away from Hampton’s brilliance. Over the course of a 12-year career, all with the Steelers, Hampton recorded 398 tackles while also making five Pro Bowl appearances. After his NFL career concluded after the 2012 season, the former Steelers’ nose tackle was inducted into the Texas Longhorns’ Hall of Honor. He was also honored by Mel Blount and his former teammates in April 2019 at the 21st Annual Mel Blount Youth Home All-Star Celebrity Roast.
DE Kimo Von Oelhoffen
Kimo Von Oelhoffen departed the Steelers following Super Bowl XL, signing a three-year deal with the New York Jets. He only played one season in New York before being released and his NFL career came to an end after one season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Like many others, Von Oelhoffen turned to coaching and was hired by Western Oregon to be their defensive line coach in 2014. He is currently listed as a pass rush specialist and defensive line assistant for the Texas A&M Commerce Lions.
OLB Clark Haggans
The Steelers let Clark Haggans walk following the 2007 season after the emergence of LaMarr Woodley. Like many former Steelers, Haggans would sign with the Arizona Cardinals and he would come face to face with his former team in Super Bowl XLIII. Haggans’ Cardinals were defeated by the Steelers as the team went on to win their sixth Super Bowl. The former Steelers’ linebacker would participate in five more seasons after departing Pittsburgh, recording 14 sacks. Haggans’ last snap came in 2012 and he was inducted in the Colorado State Hall of Fame in 2015.
ILB James Farrior
Perhaps one of the more underrated free agent signings in franchise history, James Farrior was a key part of a Steelers’ defense that brought home two Lombardi trophies. Farrior’s tenure in Pittsburgh lasted a decade and he was able to record 1085 tackles and 30 sacks. Following the conclusion of his NFL career, Farrior was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and he was one of six former Steelers’ to be nominated for the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame, though he did not make the cut.
ILB Larry Foote
Larry Foote would go on to win two Super Bowls as a member of the Steelers as he was part of the Super Bowl XL and XLIII squad. Following Super Bowl XLIII, Foote, a Detroit native, signed with the Detroit Lions. Following a one-year stint in Detroit, Foote would return to Pittsburgh after signing a three year deal with the Steelers. He would put together his best statistical season in 2012, recording 113 tackles and four sacks at the age of 32. His career would end in 2014 after spending one season with the Arizona Cardinals. Following his retirement, Foote spent 2015 as an assistant linebackers’ coach for the Cardinals before becoming their full time linebackers’ coach from 2016 to 2018. He is now the outside linebackers’ coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Bruce Arians.
OLB Joey Porter
One of the verbal leaders of the Steelers’ defense, Porter was released by the Steelers’ following the 2006 season. He enjoyed the next five seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals before retiring as a member of the Steelers in August 2012. This would be the start of his transition into coaching as he served as an assistant under Dick LeBeau in 2014. He was then hired to be the outside linebackers’ coach in 2015, a position he held up until the end of the 2018 season. Porter’s coaching career will be remembered for two distinct moments.
The first being an altercation with Bengals’ cornerback Pacman Jones in a 2015 Wild Card showdown. Jones was flagged for bumping into Porter which drew a 15-yard penalty and would help put the Steelers in position for a game winning field goal. The second incident came during the 2016 postseason when Porter was arrested outside of a bar on Pittsburgh’s south side.
CB Ike Taylor
Sometimes criticized for his ‘stone hands’, Ike Taylor was a constant mainstay in the Steelers’ secondary. He played 12 seasons, all in the black and gold, before retiring in the spring of 2015. He finished his career with just 14 career interceptions but 134 passes defended. Taylor briefly made appearances on NFL Network from 2015 to 2017 following his retirement. You can still catch him on various podcasts with no interview being more memorable than his appearance on Willie Colon’s Surf & Turf podcast where Taylor described the party antics of the 2005 Steelers’ defense.
CB Deshea Townsend
Deshea Townsend enjoyed a solid career with the Steelers, evening winning a second Super Bowl with the team following the 2008 season. He would finish his playing career with the Indianapolis Colts in 2010. He would follow that with an extensive coaching career. His first stop would be with the Arizona Cardinals where he would serve as the assistant defensive back coach for the 2011 and 2012 season. Townsend would then move to the college ranks and become Mississippi State’s cornerback coach from 2013 to 2015. A reunion with his former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would follow in 2016 as he became the Tennessee Titans’ defensive backs’ coach for two seasons. After a brief stop with the New York Giants in 2018, Townsend moved to become the secondary coach for the Chicago Bears, a position he still currently holds. Townsend’s coaching resume is a testament to the skills and mental understanding of the game that he showed during his time in Pittsburgh.
FS Chris Hope
Following his Super Bowl XL victory, Chris Hope signed a six-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. He would play out the six years of his contract and one more additional year with the Atlanta Falcons in 2012. Following the end of his playing career, Hope has been a constant presence in his community. He launched the iCHOPE Charitable Fund and has even published a book titled P.R.O.S (Parents relying on their seed). He recently even hosted a Night of Hope fundraiser in Tennessee.
SS Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu – the man known for his eye-popping play on the field and for his luscious hair. The former Steelers’ safety would play the entirety of his career in Pittsburgh, earning eight Pro Bowl nods and even winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. While his retirement has been clouded in controversy for years over the rumors of the Steelers forcing him into retirement or threatening a release, Polamalu has been mostly quiet since his playing days have come to an end. In 2018, he was named Head of Player Relations for the Alliance of American Football and he earned his place in football immortality earlier this year. Polamalu was officially named as an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February 2020. The man who was known for roaming free on the field will now be stationed permanently in Canton, Ohio.