The Pittsburgh Steelers is an American professional football team based in Pittsburgh. They are affiliated to the National Football League (NFL). The team has won six Super Bowl titles and eight AFC championships. It’s considered one of the most successful franchises in the field, with more Super Bowl victories than any other team in the league. They were originally named the Pittsburgh Pirates, and it was founded in 1933 by Pittsburgh resident Art Rooney, who used the winnings of a horse bet to establish the franchise. The ownership of theteam still remains in the Rooney family to this day.
The Rocky Beginnings
The team struggled a lot in the early days. They managed to qualify to the playoffs once in their first 37 years of existence. By 1940 they dropped the Pirates name to be known as the Steelers, as a tribute to the state’s leading industry, and to avoid confusion with the baseball team. The Steelers finally managed to score an NFL Eastern Division title in 1947. They sadly lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoff match for the championship game. Rooney was witness to the Steelers struggle for most of the ‘50s and ’60s until their fortunes changed with the recruitment of Chuck Noll as the head coach in 1969.
Chuck Noll and the Golden Era
Noll was great at recognizing talent. He managed to recruit some of the most famous faces in the team from 1969 to 1972. He managed to draft five futures Hall of Famers: Joe Greene as a defensive tackle, Terry Bradshaw as a quarterback, Mel Blount as a defensive backer, Jack Ham as a linebacker, and Franco Harris as running backer. Franco is often fondly remembered for a play known as the Immaculate Reception, a winning catch he managed to score in the playoffs in a game against the Oakland Raiders in 1972. This is also considered one of the most controversial plays in professional football and one that the NFL has refused to review numerous times.
By 1974 Chuck Noll hired four more players who would on to go and do great things for the team as well as earn their inductions to the Hall of Fame: Mike Webster as a center, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth as receivers, and Jack Lambert as a linebacker. These four guys would lead the team to the most successful winning streak in the NFL’s history by winning four Super Bowls: on 1975, 1976, 1979, and 1980. The lineup was regarded as the “Dynasty of Unmatched Success” by having a prominent defense style of game known as the “Steel Curtain” that worked alongside an efficient offense led by Terry Bradshaw.
Post Noll Era and Additional Titles
When the sun finally set for Chuck Noll, he was replaced by Bill Cowher. The man had some big shoes to fill, and he managed to lead the Steelers to playoffs in ten of his fifteen seasons with the team. One of his most significant moves was the promotion of Dick LeBeau from secondary coach to defensive coordinator in 1995. LeBeau put together formidable defenses that defined the Pittsburgh team in his two stints during the ’90s, and then back again from 2004 to 2015. The Steelers’ defense of the mid-90s was composed of powerhouses such as cornerback Rod Woodson and linebackers Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene. The team managed to get into the Super Bowl in 1996 again but lost to the Dallas Cowboys.
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The Steelers continued their success well into the 2000s by hiring Hines Ward as a wide receiver, Ben Roethlisberger as a quarterback, and Troy Polamalu for safety. This winning tandem managed to defeat the Seattle Seahawks to win the fifth Super Bowl title for the Steelers in 2006. By 2009 the Steelers, under the leadership of Mike Tomlin, beat the Arizona Cardinals to win their sixth Super Bowl championship. After missing the playoffs after 2009’s regular season, The Steelers won their third AFC championship after six years. They won a shot to the Super Bowl yet again in 2011 but lost the game to the Green Bay Packers.