Tunch Ilkin, the former Steelers offensive tackle and radio analyst, has died at the age of 63.
Ilkin’s death is as a result of his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. His passing comes only three months after he announced his retirement from his work with Steelers Radio Network to focus fully on his recovery and spending time with his family.
Ilkin, who was born in Istanbul, Turkey before his parents Mehmet and Ayten Ilkin emigrated to the United States when Tunch was only two-years-old. He was selected in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Ilkin played 13 years for the Steelers at offensive tackle, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods in 1988 and 1989. He also served a five-year term as the Vice-President of the NFLPA.
Ilkin officially joined the Steelers radio broadcast team as a color commentator in 1998, calling games alongside Myron Cope and Bill Hillgrove. He took on the analyst role full-time following Cope’s retirement in 2004, and eventually became a staple voice for Steelers fans and an ambassador for the franchise.
Craig Wolfley will move from the sideline to replace Ilkin on broadcasts this season, with former Steelers lineman Max Starks joining the broadcast crew on the sidelines.