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Steelers History

Mic Drop: WPXI’s Aaron Martin Offers Best, Worst Sports Memories

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WPXI’s Aaron Martin joined Mike Asti to discuss some of his best and worst sports memories, both as a fan and ones that he was able to cover. Mike gets Aaron to ponder some “what ifs?” when it comes to Pittsburgh sports, which includes reliving some awful Steelers memories like the 2001 AFC Championship loss to the Patriots.

Mike Asti is an experienced media personality and journalist with a vast résumé and skillset, most notably with TribLIVE Radio, WPXI and 93.7 The Fan. Asti manages both Steelers Now and Pittsburgh Sports Live, as well as, contributing to WVSportsNow and West Virginia's Metro News.

NFL Draft

Could Leonard Fournette follow Jerome Bettis as Hall of Fame Running Back Acquired in Trade?

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Leonard Fournette is not Jerome Bettis.

At least not yet.

But if the Steelers pull of a trade for Fournette — like some are speculating they could or should. The comparisons between that and the trade with the St. Louis Rams that brought them Jerome Bettis would be immediate.

It was fourteen years and one day ago (April 20, 1996) that the Steelers acquired Jerome Bettis and a third-round pick for the team’s second-round pick in that year’s draft and a fourth-round selection in 1997.

Bettis had exploded into the league with 1429 yards on the ground in his first year. However the Rams weren’t a great team at the time and Bettis struggled in years two and three. After the Rams drafted Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips in the first-round, the team turned around and dealt Bettis to the Steelers.

Fournette like Bettis was at the time, is going into his fourth year in the NFL. Both were top 10 selections in the NFL Draft. Unlike Bettis, Fournette is coming off his best season as a pro by far. Even while stuck on the offensively inept Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, Fournette had 1152 yards rushing on a career best 4.3 yards per carry and added 76 receptions for 522 yards. His 1674 yards from scrimmage placed him 6th in the league. By comparison, Jerome Bettis was coming off a season in which he had only 743 all-purpose yards.

While the Bettis swap is now regarded as one of the worst in NFL history, at the time, the Rams looked like they were doing the smart thing, getting rid of a underachieving back on the cusp of free agency. Unfortunately for them, Phillips was a bust, and the back they traded away ended up with 1431 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first year with the new team.

It’s a decidedly different era in NFL history. Running backs have very little value and even shorter careers. But if a player of Fournette’s caliber can be had for a mid-round draft pick, would the Steelers be interested in another trade for a running back?

No matter what, it probably wouldn’t work out as well as the one that brought Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis to the Steelers in 1996.

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Steelers History

Steelers Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown Selected to NFL All-2010s Team

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Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown have been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010’s, the organization announced on Monday.

Pouncey, who was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, is entering his 12th season with the team this fall. The well-decorated veteran will add this honor to his eight Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections.

Brown was also selected in the 2010 draft by the Steelers, as the club nabbed him in the sixth round out of Central Michigan. That proved to be a prescient investment. In his nine years with the Steelers, Brown amassed 11,207 receiving yards and 74 touchdowns, leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2014 and 2017, in receptions in 2014 and 2015 and in touchdowns in 2018. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro choice before being traded to the Oakland Raiders in advance of the 2019 season.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – NOVEMBER 18: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the first half of an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 18, 2018, at TIAA Bank Field. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

The two selections represent the Steelers’ lowest number of representatives on an all-decade team since the 1960s, when the team did not have a representative.

Steelers had three selections to the all-2000s team: guard Alan Faneca, linebacker Joey Porter and safety Troy Polamalu. Center Dermontti Dawson, linebackers Kevin Greene, Hardy Nickerson and Levon Kirkland, cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Carnell Lake were selected to the 1990s team. Cornerback Mel Blount, kicker Gary Anderson and head coach Chuck Noll were chosen in the 1980s. In the 1970s, wide receiver Lynn Swann, center Mike Webster, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running back Franco Harris, defensive linemen L.C. Greenwood and Joe Greene, linebackers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham and Noll were all chosen.

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Steelers

Former Steelers Coach Woody Widenhofer Dies at 77

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Former Steelers assistant coach and Butler, Pa. native Woody Widenhofer died at the age of 77 on Sunday, his son told the Tennessean.

Widenhofer coached the Steelers linebackers from 1973-78 and was the team’s defensive coordinator from 1979-83, winning four Super Bowls with the team.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Woody Widenhofer,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a press release. “Woody played an important role coaching our famed Steel Curtain defense when he helped us win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

“He coached some of the best linebackers in NFL history during his time in Pittsburgh and was later elevated to defensive coordinator, where he guided the defense in our Super Bowl XIV victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

“A native of Butler, Woody will be missed by those who knew him and played under him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Widenhofer family.”

After his time with the Steelers, Widenhofer became a head coach in the USFL and with Missouri and Vanderbilt. He also served as defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions, Southeastern Louisiana and New Mexico State and was linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns.

Widenhofer retired from coaching in 2007. He is the second member of the 1970s Steelers coaching staff to die this year. Offensive and defensive line coach Dan Radakovich died in February.

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