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1970s Steelers LBs Voted 2nd-Best in NFL History



Steelers Andy Russell Jack Ham Jack Lambert
Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers get together for a photograph at their motel in Miami, Florida on Thursday, Jan. 15, 1976, before starting their day?s practice for Super Bowl X against the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday. From left are: Andy Russell, Jack Lambert, and Jack Ham. (AP Photo/Jim Kerlin)

The Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s were voted as the second-best group of linebackers in NFL history in a recent vote of the NFL Power Poll panel.

The 1970s Steelers linebacking corps, consisting of Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Andy Russell came in second in the poll. The linebackers of the 1980s New York Giants of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew that contained Carl Banks, Harry Carson, Gary Reasons and Lawrence Taylor finished first.

The Steelers group won four Super Bowls together and had two Hall of Famers in Ham and Lambert. That group of Giants won just one Super Bowl in 1986, though Taylor and Banks combined with Pepper Johnson and Steve DeOssie to win again in 1990. The 1980s Chicago Bears finished a distant third.

“A ton of great choices,” said Bob Papa, the radio voice of the Giants and panel member. “But any group with LT wins. Carson also is a member of the Hall of Fame and a strong argument exists for Banks. Ask Anthony Munoz or any member of the (Washington) Hogs if Carl Banks was a Hall of Fame player.”

Banks finished second in a related vote of the eligible linebackers that should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Clay Matthews finished first. Russell, the only of the 70s Steelers’ three linebackers not in the Hall of Fame, was not included in that poll.

“The Steelers’ trio helped win four Super Bowls in six seasons,” said Nick Pugliese, the sports editor of the Palm Beach Post. “That’s good enough for me.”

Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It’s member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. Steelers Now writer Alan Saunders is a regular member of the NFL Power Poll panel.