A championship roster is built from all different types of ingredients. You need the blue-chip talents, of course, the players with unquestioned pedigree. But you’d also better have the guys who just do their job. And you’d better have depth.
Sam Davis had plenty of experience doing both during his 13-year career with the Steelers. Signed as a college free agent in 1967 out of Allen University, an HBCU, he would go on to start more than 100 games in his career, primarily at left guard, including for four championship teams.
On Saturday, the team named him as a member of the 2022 class of their Hall of Honor. Often overlooked by the likes of Mike Webster and John Kolb, both Pro Bowlers or better in between whom he played, owner Art Rooney II paid homage to the late Davis, saying there is “No question” that he was an underrated contributor to those teams.
“Sam was an undrafted player. He came along a little bit slow and worked his way into being, as I said before, the foundation of that line”, Rooney said of Davis. “I always say that line didn’t really get the credit it deserved because they played as a unit for most of the time. There wasn’t much turnover in that line over the years. Sam was a key part of it, a captain, a very important role on the team overall. Again, the kind of guy that we’d like to recognize”.
“Sam was just a great teammate”, Craig Wolfley said of Davis, via Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “He showed me what it meant to be a Steeler, helping a young guy like me learn the game”. Wolfley ultimately took over Davis’ starting job, their careers only briefly aligning in 1980 until the veteran suffered a severe injury in the preseason that year.
While he was never a decorated starter in terms of post-season accolades such as Pro Bowls and All-Pros, his teammates recognized him as a captain, and his coaches demonstrated their trust in him, having allowed him to start more than 100 games.
Davis sadly passes away in an assisted living facility in 2019 after suffering a heart attack. By then legally blind and suffering dementia, he was briefly unable to be found after having wandered off on his own, he had passed away by the time he was located.
But that’s certainly not how he will be remembered. He will rightfully be immortalized in the Steelers’ Hall of Honor as an important and significant contributor to arguably the greatest dynasty the game has ever seen.