Building An All-Time Steelers’ Team, Non-Hall of Famers Edition: Tight End

Heath Miller

The last time we focused on the All-Time Steelers’ Team, Non-Hall of Famers edition, I broke down my three choices for the Pittsburgh Steelers at wide receiver, going with Louis Lipps, Buddy Dial, and Santonio Holmes.

Now, following a free agency frenzy that put the series off for a week, I turn my attention to the tight end position today.

Throughout Steelers history, tight end has been an important position overall, though it hasn’t quite had the names or the production that running back and wide receiver have had.

Before we get into the discussion regarding the tight end on my non-Hall of Famer Steelers’ all-time team, here’s a reminder of the team outlook and the selection to date:

Offensively, I will set it up using 11 personnel, meaning one running back, one tight end, no fullback, and three wide receivers, mainly because I would want to see this group play in today’s game.

Defensively, I’m using the traditional 3-4 scheme, so no slot cornerback or anything like that. Just a base 3-4. I’ll also select a kicker, punter, and return specialist, giving me 25 players to write about.

Selections made so far:

QB — Kordell Stewart
RB — Le’Veon Bell
WR — Buddy Dial
WR — Louis Lipps
WR — Santonio Holmes

Of course, some great names like Elbie Nickel, Mark Bruener, Randy Grossman, Bennie Cunningham, Eric Green, and more have come along and produced in spurts for the Steelers.

There’s one name that stands well above the crowd though and put together one heck of a career in Pittsburgh. That name? Heath Miller, of course.

While Miller had an impressive career in the black and gold, it’s very unlikely he’ll ever get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is totally fine. Steelers fans, media and teammates know how great he was and how important he was to the team’s success overall as a true dual-threat tight end that could play in-line or detached.

During his 11-year, 168-game career with the Steelers after being a first-round draft pick at No. 30 overall in 2005, Miller hauled in 592 passes for 6,596 yards and 45 touchdowns, quickly becoming one of the key cogs in the engine that was the Steelers’ offense for the decade-plus.

His 6,596 receiving yards puts his fourth all-time in Steelers’ history, while he sits third all-time in receptions and fifth in touchdowns.

Right away, Miller worked his way into the starting lineup and hauled in a three-yard touchdown pass in his NFL debut against the Tennessee Titans in 2005, playing a key role throughout his rookie season that ultimately culminated in a win in Super Bowl XL. That season, Miller finished second in the Associated Press’s Offensive Rookie of the Year voting behind Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams.

His second season in the NFL was another solid one that started with a bang as Miller hauled in an 87-yard touchdown pass in the season-opener against the Miami Dolphins from Charlie Batch, ultimately leading to a 28-17 win.

That season, Miller went on to haul in 34 passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games.

The Virginia product took off in his third season, establishing career highs in receptions (47), yards (566) and touchdowns (7) quickly becoming a focal point over the middle for the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The 2009 season was Miller’s best as a pro as he hauled in 76 passes for 789 yards and six touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl berth the same season he signed a six-year, $35.3 million extension with the Steelers, including $12.5 million in guarantees.

After relatively quiet 2010 and 2011 seasons, Miller re-emerged as one of the top tight ends in the game under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley in 2012, hauling in 71 passes for 816 yards and eight touchdowns, earning his second Pro Bowl berth. That season, Miller was also voted Team MVP, placing himself in franchise lore forever.

Following the Pro Bowl season, Miller’s numbers declined as did his body, due to an ACL and MCL tear, and other various ailments due to his physical play style. Despite the decline in play, Miller still averaged a healthy 61/630/2 in his final three seasons before ultimately retiring from the Steelers ahead of the 2016 season.

The two-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion and former Steelers’ MVP award winner had a heck of a career with the black and gold, one that should ultimately wind up in an induction into the Steelers’ Hall of Honor in the near future.

Though it was a quick 11-year career that seemingly went by far too fast, HEEEATH will always be the “perfect” Steeler, one that made for an easy selection to my all-time roster using non-Hall of Famers.

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