Every athlete hopes to be remembered for being one of the all-time greats. While most athletes fade into obscurity or become answers to oddball trivia questions, others can become known by just their last name or even the number on the jersey they wore.
Mitchell and Ness ranked the NFL’s best player to wear each jersey number back in 2015. A total of eight Steelers found themselves on this list: Rod Woodson (26), Donnie Shell (31), Mel Blount (47), Jerome Bettis (36), Troy Polamalu (43), Jack Lambert (58), Jack Ham (59) and “Mean” Joe Greene (75).
Each man also has a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame. Two members, Polamalu and Shell, are set to give their respective enrichment speeches on August 7 and 8. Polamalu, however, recently announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is working with officials in order to partake in the weekend’s festivities.
Ham, Blount, Lambert, Shell and Greene all have four Super Bowls on their resumes after helping Pittsburgh forge its defense during the Steelers’ dynasty in the 1970s. Ham, Blount, Lambert and Greene also earned the honor of being named to the NFL Hall of Fame’s All-1970s team. Jerseys of these men can still be spotted throughout Heinz Field at Steelers games to this day.
Rod Woodson was an 11-time Pro Bowler and recorded 71 career interceptions. He appeared in 134 games for Pittsburgh before spending time in Baltimore, Oakland and San Francisco.
Bettis came to Pittsburgh after a trade with the Rams and decided to park the bus and stay for the remaining 10 years of his career. In that time, he scored 78 rushing touchdowns and talled 10,751 yards. He also had a storybook ending to his career after Pittsburgh defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XL, making his final NFL appearance a Super Bowl win in his hometown of Detroit.
Polamalu captured two Super Bowls and earned a spot on the NFL Hall of Fame’s All-2000s team. He spent all 12 seasons of his career in Pittsburgh and had 583 solo tackles.
Other notables on the list include Pittsburgh native Dan Marino (13), Tom Brady (12), Walter Payton (34), Steve Young (8) and John Elway (7).