Now that we’re into July, Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp is just around the corner thankfully.
That means real football is less than a month away, and lists, all-time teams and more can disappear as offseason fodder. That said, there’s still time to talk about hypothetical stuff, like my all-time Steelers’ team using only non-Hall of Famers.
Today, we’ll wrap up my all-time team with the specialists, featuring a kicker, punter and return specialist.
Throughout the Steelers’ history, they’ve had some consistently good kickers, including Jeff Reed and Chris Boswell currently, as well as strong punters in Jordan Berry, Bobby Walden and more. Still, no kicker or punter is in the Hall of Fame for the Steelers, leaving my pool of players to select from wide open.
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
TE — Heath Miller
LT — Jon Kolb
LG — Ramon Foster
C — Ray Mansfield
RG — Gerry Mullins
RT — Tunch Ilkin
LDE — LC Greenwood
NT — Casey Hampton
RDE — Aaron Smith
LOLB — Jason Gildon
ROLB — Joey Porter
ILB — Andy Russell
ILB — James Farrior
CB — Ike Taylor
CB — JT Thomas
FS — Ryan Clark
SS — Carnell Lake
The selections for my team were pretty cut and dry, to be quite honest. The Steelers have a pretty solid history in the kicking game, which led to my selection of Gary Anderson for my all-time team at kicker.
Anderson is the Steelers’ all-time leading score, earned one of his two First Team All-Pro accolades with the Steelers (1985), a Second Team All-Pro (1983), went to three of his four Pro Bowls with the Steelers, and earned a spot on the 1980s and 1990s all-decade teams as a member of the Steelers before being named to the Steelers’ All-Time Team.
In his 13 seasons with Pittsburgh, Anderson played in 197 games and connected on 309 of 395 field goals (78.2%) and 416 of 420 extra points, scoring 1,343 points with the Steelers in the black and gold.
While the Steelers didn’t have the same type of team success that they had with a kicker like Jeff Reed, who won two Super Bowls, Anderson was arguably the top kicker in the NFL for more than a decade. That made him easy selection for my team. Let me use this opportunity to also say that even though he’s a kicker, Anderson deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, thanks to his three All-Pros and four Pro Bowl trips.
At punter, I considered Bobby Walden for my team, considering he was the punter for two of the Steelers’ four Super Bowls in the 1970s. I also considered Craig Colquitt for the team as well, as he was the punter late in the 70s in the middle of the dynasty as well. While those two have the rings, I went with Josh Miller for my team, as he averaged more yards per punt during his time in the black and gold.
Miller went from punting for the Baltimore Stallions in the Canadian Football League (yeah, try and understand that one), to eventually punting with the Steelers, where he spent eight seasons, playing in 122 games. Miller punted for 25,547 yards and averaged 42.9 yards per punt in the black and gold, including a career long of 75 yards.
When he wasn’t punting the football, he threw an 81-yard touchdown pass to Steelers’ safety Chris Hope on a fake punt against the Baltimore Ravens in 2003, which tied the NFL record for the longest pass completion by a non-quarterback in NFL history.
At returner, I went with Antwaan Randle El, who had five total return touchdowns in his time with the Steelers. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson was the Steelers’ best punt returner in history, in terms of yards, but Randle El was pretty darn close.
During his time with the Steelers from 2002-10, Randle El returned 182 punts for 1,650 yards and four touchdowns, and added 78 kick returns for 1,742 yards and one touchdown. In fact, Randle El still leads the Steelers with five total returns for touchdowns in the kicking and punting game after all this time.
I also considered Louis Lipps for the spot on the team, especially after he already made the team at receiver, but Randle’s El’s five scores during his time in the black and gold ended up being the deciding factor for me.