Many teams around the league have done a ‘Ring of Honor’ for some time, a more informal, organizational-level way of honoring some of the great men and women who were a part of the team, whether they be players, coaches, owners, executives, scouts, or contributors in some other way.
The Pittsburgh Steelers inaugurated their own Hall of Honor in 2017, and have already inducted the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Chuck Noll, Bobby Layne, Ernie Stautner, Jerome Bettis, Lynn Swann, Hines Ward, Rod Woodson, Bill Nunn, Andy Russell, and three Rooneys, among a number of others.
For their first three classes, the names of those to be inaugurated that year were announced in late July. Presumably because of the pandemic, plans changed this year, but according to Bob Labriola, we will finally learn the names of those who will be a part of this year’s class by the end of the week.
Back in February, David Orochena took a look at some of the names that could possibly be included this year, such as Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, Casey Hampton, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, Jason Gildon, Carnell Lake, and James Farrior. He offered some older names such as Bill McPeak, John Reager, Ray Mathews, and Dan Dodrill.
Given that Polamalu was a part of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class—even if he is yet to be enshrined, again because of the pandemic—it would seem amply appropriate that he is included in this year’s class.
The Steelers’ inaugural class included 27 names. Considering that they have been around since 1933 and have had a great deal of success, it’s understandable that they wanted to include as many of the essential names as they could right away.
The 2018 class, however, featured five names, and the 2019 class, four, that consisting of Bill Cowher, Larry Brown, Elbie Nickel, and Hines Ward. It’s wise to cut back on the number of entrants, because, frankly, you’re going to run out sooner or later.
As seen in the list above, however, there are still plenty of worthy names to consider, including the entirety of the team’s defensive line from the late 2000s. I would assume that at some point in the somewhat distant future, Antonio Brown’s name will be in there. James Harrison will probably be there in a few years (he must be retired for at least three seasons).
While we await word on which players and contributors will be included in this year’s class, let’s take a moment to ponder the present. Who among the current members of the organization will eventually make it there?
Ben Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward, and Maurkice Pouncey are no-brainers, as are Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert. Others such as David DeCastro, and T.J. Watt are making a case for themselves, but the rest have a long way to go, including Minkah Fitzpatrick, Devin Bush, Stephon Tuitt, and Alejandro Villanueva.