professional football team and one of six teams in the Central Division
of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take
affect in 2002, the Steelers will play in the North Division of the AFC.
Originally called the Pirates, the Steelers wear uniforms of black and
gold. The team, which used to play at Three Rivers Stadium in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was scheduled to move into a new stadium for
the 2001 season. The team takes its name from the steel-producing
factories in Pittsburgh.
During the 1970s Pittsburgh became the first NFL team to win four Super
Bowls. Head coach Chuck Noll commanded a talent-laden club starring
several future Hall of Fame members, including quarterback Terry
Bradshaw, defensive end “Mean” Joe Greene, running back Franco Harris,
and linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert.
The Pittsburgh Pirates football team was founded in 1933 by Art Rooney.
He named the team after Pittsburgh’s National League baseball team, and
the two franchises shared Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. In 1938 Rooney
signed star running back Byron White. Nicknamed Whizzer because of his
speed, White led the league in rushing that year, but the Pirates won
just two of nine games.
After seven losing seasons, Rooney renamed his team the Steelers in
1940. The club registered only three winning records from 1942 to 1949.
Its best player during this time was two-time rushing champion Bill
Dudley. In 1946 the versatile running back, who would eventually be
elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, led the NFL in rushing,
interceptions, and punt returns.
From 1950 to 1957 Pittsburgh failed to produce a winning record. The
team briefly recovered between 1958 and 1963, culminating with a 9-5
win-loss record in 1962. Pittsburgh followed a 7-4 record in 1963 with
eight consecutive losing campaigns from 1964 to 1971.
The Steelers moved to their new home in Three Rivers Stadium in 1970,
the same year Pittsburgh chose quarterback Terry Bradshaw of Louisiana
Tech as the number one pick in the NFL draft. In 1972, just three years
after a one-win season, head coach Chuck Noll led the Steelers to the
team’s first division title ever. The crown marked the beginning of a
dynasty that won seven Central Division championships (including six
consecutively) and four Super Bowls from 1972 to 1980.
Noll put together a well-balanced offense starring Bradshaw, Franco
Harris, center Mike Webster, and wide receivers John Stallworth and Lynn
Swann. The defense, known as the Steel Curtain because it closed tight
on opposing offenses, featured Jack Ham and Jack Lambert; defensive
backs Mel Blount and Donnie Shell; and linemen Joe Greene, L. C.
Greenwood, and Dwight White. Pittsburgh fielded the AFC’s top-rated
defense for three consecutive seasons, from 1974 to 1976.
Pittsburgh rolled through the playoffs in both 1974 and 1975 and won the
Super Bowls that followed both seasons, holding the Minnesota Vikings
and Dallas Cowboys to a combined 23 points in the two games. Three years
later the Steelers again reached the Super Bowl. They defeated the
Cowboys 35-31 in what is considered one of the most thrilling
championships in NFL history. Bradshaw threw four touchdown passes, and
the Steelers led the game 35-17 with just under seven minutes left to
play. Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach led his team to two more
touchdowns before Pittsburgh recovered a Dallas onside kick and won the
game. Pittsburgh earned its fourth title in 1980, defeating the Los
Angeles Rams 31-19.
Noll collected two more division titles in the following 12 seasons, but
under him the Steelers did not return to the Super Bowl. When he retired
after the 1991 season, he ranked fourth in NFL history with 209 career
victories. Club founder Art Rooney died in 1988, having owned the
Steelers for 55 years. His son Daniel M. Rooney became the franchise
Former NFL linebacker Bill Cowher was hired as head coach in 1992 and
built solid teams in the early 1990s with running back Barry Foster,
linebacker Greg Lloyd, and quarterback Neil O’Donnell. Cowher led
Pittsburgh to three straight division crowns from 1994 to 1996.
Following the 1995 season the Steelers again played in the Super Bowl,
but they lost to the Cowboys 27-17. Running back Jerome Bettis led the
team in the 1996 season as Pittsburgh clinched the AFC Central Division
and beat the Indianapolis Colts 42-14 in the playoffs before losing to
the New England Patriots, 28-3.
1975 IX Defeated Minnesota Vikings, 16-6
1976 X Defeated Dallas Cowboys, 21-17
1979 XIII Defeated Dallas Cowboys, 35-31
1980 XIV Defeated Los Angeles Rams, 31-19
1996 XXX Lost to Dallas Cowboys, 27-17
NFL History Guide