Being an average Steelers fan; I’m compelled to compare players from different eras. Dave Bryan was kind enough to publish my original List of Top 500 All-Time Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2017. My last update came at the end of the 2020 NFL season: Top 500 Steelers (2020 Edition).
This sixth edition of the Top 500 All-Time Pittsburgh Steelers incorporates on the field service, recognition, and accomplishments of the 2021 Steelers. Player’s rankings may change due to changes to Steelers All-Time individual leaders in select categories, adjusted information in the Pro Football Reference (one of my main resources), or recognition for their play such as the Hall of Honor or Hall of Fame.
2021 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
I waited for the announcement of the latest AP defensive player of the year. T.J Watt skyrocketed into the top 30 after just five seasons of play. Just imagine where he will place if he keeps his pace up over the next five seasons! He’s just behind Maurkice Pouncey and Cam Heyward who is at 28 overall. Heyward’s very commendable season gives him room to reach even higher as he closes out his career.
Najee Harris just missed the top 500 in his first year. He’ll easily break into the top 500 after next season. This year he came in at number 532 as the Steelers top ranked 2021 rookie. This year, Ricardo Colclough is Mr. 500. The very last to make the all-time list. Previous Mr. 500’s includes Dick Arndt, David Woodley, Pete Ladygo, Lou Tepe, and Chris Carter.
Ben Roethlisberger finished this season at number eight overall. Roethlisberger will undoubtedly be in the Steelers Hall of Honor and the Football Hall of Fame after he retires. Once he does, I project him to be at least number two on the all-time list just behind Joe Greene but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
PLAYERS DROPPED OFF THIS EDITION
As players ascend into the top 500; inevitably Newton’s third law of motion forces other players out. Here are the players who fell from last year’s list along with their new ranking:
|FIRST||LAST||POS||YEARS||OLD RANK||NEW RANK|
Here are some details on these Steelers of yore:
Chuck Noll began replacing players from his first season as Pittsburgh Steelers head coach. In February 1970, Chuck Noll traded wide receiver Don Alley to the San Diego Chargers for 31-year-old linebacker Chuck Allen. Allen played nine years for the Chargers including his first five under defensive coach Chuck Noll. Allen named to two AFL Pro Bowls while with the Chargers. Noll believed “he had everything. He was a great competitor, a good hitter – a good tackler. He was smart and he had an understanding, a knowledge of defense. I don’t think he lost that.” Noll planned to use Chuck Allen at middle linebacker to bolster his defense. Allen started all 14 games in 1970 as the Steelers improved from 1-13 to 5-9.
In 1971, the Steelers were 5-5 with Allen starting the first ten games. Late in the game against the New York Giants, Allen leaped up to defend an overthrown pass and landed awkwardly on his knee. The Steelers lost the next three of four games with Allen out of the lineup. The Steelers waived him just before the 1972 season with the Philadelphia Eagles signing him for his final season as an NFL player. Chuck Allen went on to serve in the Seattle Seahawks organization for 20 years culminating as the Vice President of Football operations. He died at age 77 on December 14, 2016.
Tom Myslinski played for four teams in his first four seasons. He started nine games at right guard for the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. Released after the season, the Steelers signed Myslinski as depth on the interior line since he could also play center. Myslinski was among the final cuts. However, the Steelers re-signed him due to injuries on the offensive line.
His first start came after Brendan Stai went out for elbow surgery causing Bill Cowher to rejuggle the line. After a rough start giving up a sack against the Houston Oilers, Myslinski steadily improved. Chan Gailey offensive coordinator at the time saying, “he held his own early and then got better every week.” In his last start against Miami, quarterback Mike Tomczak attempted to lateral the ball to Myslinski to avoid a sack. The Dolphins recovered but the Steelers with takeaways of their own eventually prevailed. Once Brendan Stai returned, Myslinski just briefly appeared including one of their two playoff games.
In 1997, Myslinski was the top reserve interior lineman. He even got work at long snapper filling in for five games in the 1997 season. Brendan Stai went down with an ankle injury during a 37-7 season opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Myslinski played in all 16 games including starting seven for the injured Stai. Tunch Ilkin worked with Myslinski who ended up signing a $3 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent. The Steelers brought him back in 2000. Coach Bill Cowher wanting to add toughness to his offensive line explaining “You need guys who are going to puke in the huddle and get ready to run to the line to run the next play.” He appeared in six games. The Steelers released Myslinski prior to the 2001 season as younger talent appeared on the roster including Jeff Hartings, Chukky Okobi, and Mathias Nkwenti.
Myslinski found the time to volunteer at as a strength and conditioning coach at North Florida University while with the Steelers in 1996. He also volunteered at Pitt from 1998-2001. Afterwards, he held a series of strength and conditioning jobs at Robert Morris then broke into the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2007. He became the Jacksonville Jaguars strength and conditioning coach in January 2012. A post he held until Urban Meyer fired Myslinski in 2021 during his reorganization of the Jaguars.
The Steelers drafted running back Rodney Carter out of Purdue in the seventh round of the 1987 draft. A two-sport star he played football and baseball at Purdue. Carter a pass receiving specialist caught 98 passes for 1,099 yards his senior year. The Steelers wanted to strengthen the running back room which included Frank Pollard and Walter Abercrombie. After strong performances in camp, Carter missed his rookie season after hurting his right knee.
In 1987, he was the very last cut but brought back as a replacement player during the strike. The Steelers retained him, and he scored two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs. In three seasons, he caught 86 passes for eight touchdowns but just 244 rushing yards. A substantial chunk came in a 1988 game against the Denver Broncos. On a third and one, Merrill Hoge took a fake handoff and then opened a hole for Carter who ran 64 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring. He also scored on a ten-yard pass from Todd Blackledge in the 39-21 win.
Following his three years with the Steelers, Carter worked in construction, coached then got into pharmaceutical sales. In 2008 doctors diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis. In 2012 he went blind from diabetes complications but remains active. He’s lived in Bethlehem Pa with his wife since 1992. His son played football for Bucknell.
Sean Morey played three of his nine NFL seasons in Pittsburgh. Originally a New England Patriots seventh round draft pick in the 1999 draft. Morey played for the Patriots his rookie season. then the Philadelphia Eagles before becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2004. A special teams ace and captain during his time with the Steelers. Sean Morey left in 2007 to join Ken Whisenhut with the Arizona Cardinals. That’s where he made the Pro Bowl as a special team player in 2008. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 but retired just before training camp citing concussions. Morey along with other players objected to the NFL Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation and Proposed Settlement. The group sought to broaden the narrow scope of players that would receive a settlement. He coached high school football at Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Morey remains active in concussion and CTE research.
Bill Austin traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Green Bay Packers for Dick Arndt in September 1967. He played in all 14 games in 1967 mainly on special teams. In 1968 he was on the taxi squad, the first year NFL recognized as an inactive list in what has become the practice squads and activated for three games.
Joe Greene rookie 1969, Chuck Noll deciding who his defensive line will be. Arndt pulled hamstring on opening kickoff in the Steelers season opening victory over Detroit Lions. Their only win in a 1-13 campaign. Arndt activated late in the season to play against the Giants as LC Greenwood missed the last two games for military training. In the final game, the New Orleans Saints scored a late fourth quarter touchdown for a come from behind win and a fight broke out. Arndt waded in with his helmet half on and received a cut over his left eye to add insult to the injury of a final loss.
In 1970, Dick Arndt was one of 14 players that Chuck Noll retained from the roster he inherited going into the 1969 season. Arndt appeared in all 14 games in 1970. He blocked a field goal in his final game in a 30-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Chuck Noll waived Arndt following a season opening loss in 1971. The New England Patriots signed Arndt in 1972 after his four seasons in Pittsburgh but never played there.
Glamp was from the Mount Pleasant area where he starred in football with his brother at Hurst High School. From Mount Pleasant he went to Louisiana State playing in 1942. Glamp curtailed his college career to enter the military during WWII where he did play on some service teams. Glamp returned to LSU after war but could not regain his form. He worked in a railroad freight yard before trying out for the Steelers. Steelers head coach Jock Sutherland signed Glamp prior to the 1947 season. Glamp was part of group of running backs including Johnny Clement trying to fill the void left when Bullet Bill Dudley traded away to the Detroit Lions. Glamp quickly demonstrated his kicking skills in the preseason.
In the 1947 season opener, Dudley almost pulled off a Lion victory. He scored one touchdown and intercepted a pass to set up a field goal and a 10-7 Detroit lead. But Steelers prevailed with Glamp kicking two extra points and icing it with a 35-yard field goal with two minutes to play to win 17-10. In the third game, Glamp missed a 29-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the goal post with 25 seconds to play preventing a come behind victory for Washington. Steelers lost 27-26.
Bob Drum of the Pittsburgh Press noted that Washington used wooden goalposts made from two by fours that had flat surfaces. If they used then modern steel posts that are round, the ball likely would have caromed in for the field goal. Against Green Bay he missed his first PAT after spraining an ankle the previous game, but another PAT and a field goal helped the Steelers beat the Packers 18-17. Glamp credited with starting games when the Steelers kicked the opening kickoff. He did get into some games as a right halfback.
AVENGING WASHINGTON LOSS
In 1948 after Jock Sutherland’s death. Glamp scored a touchdown in an opening loss to Washington. He booted a 19-yard field goal that would have tied game, but referees negated the kick because the Steelers took too much time. Glamp lightest player at 177 but fastest on team. In rematch with Washington, Glamp missed five attempts but hit on his final attempt with 28 seconds to play to beat Washington 10-7. A melee broke out at end of game when Washington owner George Preston Marshall came out of the stands onto the field berating officials. Glamp scored his second touchdown on a 55-yard run off left tackle in 38-7 win over Green Bay. His third touchdown occurred in 38-28 win over Giants, a three-yard reception. Glamp set franchise scoring record with 56 points in 1948.
Glamp only played eight games in 1949 with Joe Geri taking over kicking chores. In preseason Pittsburgh tried Glamp at left halfback with others but no good passing. May have led John Michelson to go with rookie Jim Finks as a passing player. Missed four field goal attempts in 28-7 win over Giants to open season. First field goal not until fifth game versus New York Bulldogs. Steelers 4-1 at this point of season and Glamp 14 of 14 PAT. In his final game, Glamp missed a 27-yard field goal attempt in very soggy conditions. The miss caused a 7-7 tie that hurt the Steelers playoff chances as they were now 4-3-1. Steelers released Glamp two days later. Players voted Glamp a 2/3 share of their second-place finish at end of season despite his midseason release.
As a sophomore, played for SMU against Jock Sutherland’s Pitt team in 1938 noted for his passing. As a senior, started at left halfback versus Pitt that ended in a 7-7 tie. The Chicago Cardinals drafted Clement in fourth round of 1941 draft. He started four of nine games. He came into a game late and threw two TD passes in a 21-14 loss to Eagles. A few days later he received orders to report for military duty by the draft board. A pilot he also played for the Maxwell Field Marauders along with his regular military duties.
In 1946, the signing rights to Clement included in a trade between the Steelers and Cardinals. He played behind Bullet Bill Dudley in 1946 but would sub in all 11 games. Sutherland often sent his second team to start the second half. He had nerve damage in his left shoulder that he played with all seasons. Clement adopted the number 0 which he wore on service teams. He became known as “Johnny Zero.”
A private pilot he flew from Texas to Pittsburgh in his own plane to meet with Jock Sutherland to discuss his contract in the 1948 off season. Even landing in a cornfield on one of his stops, “I wanted to see friends in Loudonville …. So, I took a chance, flew over and landed in a cornfield. It was a bit rough but so are those Bears and Giants.” Clement said he delayed signing to see if Dudley would return. “One of the reasons I delayed signing for 1947 was to see what Dudley was going to do. I like football too mush to waste my time on the sidelines. Since I have the chance to be a regular left half-back now, I’m not going to muff it.”
Seen as the replacement of Bill Dudley, Clement started out strong among the league leaders in both rushing, passing, and scoring. But then a dislocated elbow against the Chicago Bears in the tenth game sidelined him on the opening drive. The Bears demolished the Steelers 49-7 without Clement in the lineup. He missed the rematch to the Eagles, a 21-0 Steelers loss after being instrumental in the victory in the first game. That’s where he scored two touchdowns on the ground and threw for two more. The Steelers averaged 24 points a game in first nine games. Without Clement along they only scored 24 points in their last three games. Clement set a then franchise record 1004 passing yards despite missing two games and most of a third game. He also finished second in the league for rushing. Good enough for second team All-Pro.
In the playoff against the Eagles. Clement led all runners with 59 yards on 14 carries compared to 18 rushes for 45 yards by the Eagles Steve Van Buren (a college teammate that blocked for him in 1941). But Clement off the mark in passing. The Eagles using the T formation and former Steeler Tommy Thompson completing 11 of 17 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. But Clement completed four of 16 passes for 52 yards from the single wing. The Steelers lost the rubbermatch 21-0.
In 1948, the Steelers stunned by legendary Jock Sutherland’s sudden death in April. John Michelosen took over as coach. Clement injured his ribs in preseason. Team doctor gave him shots of Novocain before season opener against Washington. But then separated his shoulder after gaining 127 rushing yards and passing for 81 more in a 17-14 loss. Michelosen wanted to rest Clement but instead he played the entire next game throwing two touchdown passes including a fourth quarter toss that put the Steelers in the lead for a 24-14 come from behind victory. Clement led NFL with 223 rushing yards after three games. He reinjured himself in game five, a 34-27 loss to the Giants. He would dress one more time that season but as a tribute not to play.
Clement hoped to return in 1949 but needed medical clearance. Steelers cut salaries and 14 players held out in a salary dispute. Clement did not show for Steeler’s camp. Instead, newspaper reported Clement working out with the Chicago Hornets of the All-America Conference. Steelers general manager John Holahan revealed that salary negotiations had broken down as Clement signed with the Hornets. “Naturally, we ‘cut Clement’s salary,’ We cut all the salaries and he had to go along with the rest. We saw we were getting nowhere with him. We told him he was free to dicker with any club in football.”
The Steelers also lost John Mastrangelo to the AAC. Art Rooney provided his perspective: “All our troubles are supposed to have started with salary cuts. No player likes to be cut down but there weren’t that many to worry about. For example, Clement made $7000 ($90,773 today) with us in 1947. We raised him to $10,000 in 1948. He played only half the season, not even that, but received his pay just the same. This year, we weren’t sure he’d play at all but sent him a contract of $7000 which I thought was very fair.”
The Steelers improved to 6-5-1 without the services of Clement or Mastrangelo. Clement played 12 games for the Hornets in 1949. Then Clement rejoined the military during the Korean war as a B-36 bomber pilot. After the war, he went into construction and then an air taxi service. He would meet the Steelers teams at the airport whenever they flew to Dallas. Tragically, he died in December 1969 while piloting an aircraft. It crashed near Mountain City, Tennessee but the wreckage not found until January 29, 1970. He was just 50. So, he never got to see the Steelers win a playoff game.
Do you remember these players? If you have an interesting anecdote about any of them, please give us your story in the comment section.
NEWCOMERS TO THE TOP 500
Here are the new additions to the list:
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Six of seven ascending players were on the 2021 roster. Five of the current players drafted between 2018-2020. Robert Spillane signed as a free agent in 2019 after a rookie season with the Tennessee Titans. Randy Fuller reappears after dropping off last edition. Here’s a short bio on Fuller:
The Steelers signed Randy Fuller after Rod Woodson injured his knee at the start of the 1995 season. The Broncos fourth round pick in 1994, he played special teams and in nickel defense before Denver waived him during his second summer camp. Fuller played in 39 games with four starts in three seasons with the Steelers. He also played in seven playoff games in the Black and Gold. His highlight moment was in the 1995 playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, he knocked away the Hail Mary pass that clinched the 20-16 victory and a trip to Super Bowl XXX. His reward was being replaced in dime packages for the big game by Rod Woodson coming back from his knee injury.
In 1997, he strip-sacked Houston’s Steve McNair. Greg Lloyd recovered the fumble but lost it himself before Jason Gildon picked the bouncing ball up and scored the defensive touchdown in a 37-24 win. Randy started three games in 1997 after Carnell Lake injured. But Fuller injured his groin which hampered him for the rest of the season. Fuller signed with Atlanta following the 1997 season. He finished his NFL career in 1999 with Seattle. Following football, Randy Fuller worked fulltime at a residential treatment center helping people with mental health issues.
32 players played a regular season game in Steelers uniforms for the first time in 2021. There are now 1,577 players who have worn the Black and Gold in at least one regular season game since the team entered the league in 1933.
Many of you may dispute where I rank different players. That’s okay by me. I use a matrix, so once I crunch the numbers players end up where they do. I wish some of my favorite players ranked higher. Conversely, there are some jagoffs that I wish came in lower on the rankings. It is what it is. Here we go.
The full list of top 500 Steelers is just below your music selection.
YOUR MUSIC SELECTION
I always like to include some music. A lot of these Steelers are no longer with us. But to my mind they’re still with us as the Black and Gold. Here is We’re Still Here by Jimmy Buffett.
The Top 500 Steelers (2021 Edition):
Key: *Hall of Fame !Hall of Honor
|18||James||Harrison||LB||02 04-12 14-17|
|164||-1||Antwan||Randle El||WR||2002-05 10|