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Andy Russell, Steelers Legendary Linebacker, Dies at 82

The legendary linebacker was one of the earliest pieces of the Steel Curtain defense that helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls.



Pittsburgh Steelers Andy Russell

Pittsburgh Steelers legend and member of the Steel Curtain Andy Russell has died at the age of 82, according to WTAE. A source told the station that Russell died on Thursday night.

A famed member of the 1970s defense, Russell joined the Steelers in 1963 out of Missouri but left the team after his rookie season to fulfill ROTC requirements at Missouri. When he returned in 1966, he became one of the foundational players of what would become the group to pull the Steelers into the prominence of the NFL.

The 1970s Steelers linebacking corps, consisting of Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Russell, is among the best of all time. And while Lambert and Ham went to the Hall of Fame, Russell’s decade-long tenure with the team stands the test of time. He won the first two Super Bowls in franchise history for the team and was selected to seven Pro Bowls of his career. In 1975, Andy Russell was selected as a First-Team All-Pro and would Second-Team All-Pro three times throughout his illustrious career in the NFL.

In 1971, Russell was selected as the team’s MVP for the season. A member of the Steelers’ Hall of Honor, Russell has seen numerous awards come his way in his post-playing career. While that is most notable, he was selected to the Steelers’ All-Time Team and to the Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His best known play might be in 1975 when he returned a touchdown 93 yards in the playoffs against the Baltimore Colts. As a 16th-round pick, Russell outplayed anyone’s projections for his career, and he was one of the few players that Chuck Noll kept around when he took over the team. By doing so, he became the anchor of culture in the early formational years of the dynasty that carried the team throughout the 1970s.

He spent his entire career with the team, finishing out his career from 1971 to 1976 by being selected to the Pro Bowl each year.