Now that it’s July, Pittsburgh Steelers training camp is just around the corner, thankfully.
That means real football is less than a month away, and rosters, all-time teams and more can disappear as off-season fodder. That said, there’s still time to talk about hypothetical things, like my all-time Steelers team that uses only non-Hall of Famers.
Today, we will conclude my all-time team with the specialists, with a specialist in kickers, kickers, and returns.
Throughout Steelers history, they have consistently had good kickers, including Jeff Reed and Chris Boswell currently, as well as strong kickers like Jordan Berry, Bobby Walden, and more. Still, no kicker or kicker is in the Steelers Hall of Fame, which leaves my group of players to select wide open.
Offensively, I’ll set it up with 11 people, i.e. a running back, a tight end, no fullbacks, and three wide receivers, mainly because I’d like to see this group play in today’s game.
Defensively, I’m using the traditional 3-4 scheme, so there’s no cornerback or anything like that. Only one base 3-4. I will also select a kicker, kicker, and return specialist, which will give me 25 players to write about.
Selections made so far:
QB — Kordell Stewart
RB — Leon Bell
TE – Heath Miller
LT — Jon Kolb
LG — Ramon Foster
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 — Lake Carnell
The selections for my team were pretty short and dry, to be honest. The Steelers have a pretty solid history in kicking play, which led me to select Gary Anderson to my all-time team as a kicker.
Anderson is the Steelers’ all-time highest score, earned one of his two All-Pro First Team accolades with the Steelers (1985), an All-Pro Second Team (1983), went to three of his four Pro Bowls with the Steelers, and earned a spot on teams throughout the ’80s and ’90s as a member of the Steelers before being named to the all-time team. Times of the Steelers.
In his 13 seasons with Pittsburgh, Anderson played in 197 games and hit 309 of 395 field goals (78.2%) and 416 of 420 extra points, scoring 1,343 points with the Steelers in black and gold.
While the Steelers didn’t have the same kind of success on the team that they had with a kicker like Jeff Reed, who won two Super Bowls, Anderson can be said to have been the NFL’s best kicker for more than a decade. That made it an easy selection for my team. Let me take this opportunity to also say that even though he is a kicker, Anderson deserves a place in the Hall of Fame, thanks to his three All-Pros trips and four Pro Bowls.
As a clearance, I considered Bobby Walden for my team, considering he was the clearing of two of the Steelers’ four Super Bowls in the 1970s. I also considered Craig Colquitt for the team, as he was also the kicker in the late ’70s in the middle of the dynasty. While those two have the rings, I chose Josh Miller for my team as he averaged more yards per clearance during his time in black and gold.
Miller went from clearing for the Baltimore Stallions in the Canadian Football League (yes, try to understand that), to eventually clearing with the Steelers, where he spent eight seasons, playing in 122 games. Miller cleared for 25,547 yards and averaged 42.9 yards per clearance in the black and gold, including a 75-yard run.
When he wasn’t clearing the ball, he threw an 81-yard touchdown pass to Steelers deep Chris Hope on a fake clearance against the Baltimore Ravens in 2003, which tied the NFL record for the longest complete pass made by someone who wasn’t a quarterback in NFL history.
On the return, 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 came pretty close.
During his time with the Steelers from 2002 to 2010, Randle El returned 182 clearances for 1,650 yards and four touchdowns and added 78 kick returns for 1,742 yards and a touchdown. In fact, Randle El still leads the Steelers with five total returns for touchdowns in the kick-and-clear game after all this time.
I also considered Louis Lipps for the position on the team, especially after he was already on the team as a receiver, but El de Randle’s five touchdowns during his time in black and gold ended up being the deciding factor for me.