The road to Super Bowl LVII begins on Saturday afternoon with the wild-card round. And while the Pittsburgh Steelers are at home, there are still plenty of connections with the 14 teams that have qualified for the postseason. Below is a team-by-team preview of former players and coaches who have some type of an association with the Steelers and Western Pennsylvania.
No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles — Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave is the only former Steelers player on the Eagles roster. With 11.0 sacks, Hargrave has been a force on the Eagles vaunted defensive line. Running back Miles Sanders is a local product from Woodland Hills High School and played his college ball at Penn State. Head coach Nick Sirianni also has Pittsburgh roots and his brother, Mike, is the head football coach at Washington & Jefferson, a Division III school about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. Cornerback Avonte Maddox played at Pitt.
No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers — After two seasons with the Steelers, Ray-Ray McCloud signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the 49ers in free agency last March. In his first season in San Francisco, McCloud caught 14 passes for 243 yards (17.3 average) and a touchdown. McCloud also had a 71-yard rushing touchdown against the Washington Commanders in Week 15. While he’s not a former Steeler, strong safety Talanoa Hufanga has a connection with Steelers legend Troy Polamalu, as the Hall of Famer trains Hufanga and is a mentor for him. In only his second season, Hufanga was named first-team All-Pro on Friday. Co-owner Denise DeBartolo York was formerly the president of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Buccaneers have no former Steelers players on their 53-man roster, but linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III is on the practice squad. Tampa Bay has a slew of Steelers connections on their coaching staff, thanks to Bruce Arians, who is now in the front office. Former players Byron Leftwich and Larry Foote are on the staff. Leftwich is the offensive coordinator and Larry Foote is the pass game coordinator and inside linebacker coach. Harold Goodwin, who is the the assistant head coach and run game coordinator, was on the Steelers staff from 2007-2011 with Arians. Offensive consultant Tom Moore was the Steelers wide receivers coach from 1977-1983 and offensive coordinator from 1983-1989.
No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys — Head coach Mike McCarthy is a Pittsburgh native and coached at Pitt early in his career. Safety Malik Hooker is from New Castle. Practice squad running back Qadree Ollison played at Pitt.
No. 6 seed New York Giants — The Giants have three former Steelers players on their roster — tight end Nick Vannett, defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux and wide receiver James Washington, who is on the practice squad. Mondeaux signed with the Giants’ practice squad following being waved by the Steelers on Aug. 30. Mondeaux is currently on the 53-man roster. Washington just signed with the Giants last week. Cornerback Jason Pinnock played at Pitt. Senior personnel consultant Chris Mara is married to Kathleen Rooney, the cousin of Steelers president Art Rooney II.
No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks — Former Steelers cornerback Artie Burns is on the Seahawks. The first-round pick from 2016 has played in just three games for Seattle, as he’s often a healthy scratch. Veteran defensive lineman Al Woods is also on the roster. Woods played nine games for the Steelers in 2010 and had a second stint from 2011-2013. Defensive end Quinton Jefferson went to Woodland Hills.
No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs — Obviously, JuJu Smith-Schuster is the big Steelers connection here. Smith-Schuster has been productive in his first year in Kansas City, recording 78 receptions for 933 yards (12.0 average) and three touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if Smith-Schuster could get a ring, as it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chiefs reach the Super Bowl from the AFC. Wide receivers Skyy Moore (Shady Side Academy) and Justin Watson (South Fayette) are WPIAL products. Moore played with Mike Tomlin’s son, Dino, at Shady Side Academy. Kicker Matthew Wright is also on the Chiefs’ practice squad. When filling in for Chris Boswell (injured reserve) from Weeks 9-12, Wright made 12 of 14 field goal attempts and was 7 of 7 on extra points. Former Steelers draft pick Chris Oladokun is on the Kansas City practice squad.
No. 2 seed Buffalo Bills — Linebacker Tyler Matakevich is the only former Steelers player on the Bills roster. Although, Buffalo has Pittsburgh connections with free safety Damar Hamilin, cornerback Dane Jackson and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Hamlin (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) and Jackson (Cornell) are both WPIAL products and played at Pitt, while Edmunds is the brother of Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds.
No. 3 seed Cincinnati Bengals — Former Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton is in his second year with the Bengals. Punter Drue Chrisman was on the Steelers practice squad in 2021. They also have two former WPIAL and Pitt players on their roster in wide receiver Tyler Boyd (Clairton) and long snapper Cal Adomitis (Central Catholic). Practice squad tight end Nick Bowers is from Kittanning.
No. 4 seed Jackonsville Jaguars — Former Steelers defensive lineman Brentson Buckner is the Jaguars defensive line coach and ex-Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend is the defensive passing game coordinator.
No. 5 seed Los Angeles Chargers — Left guard Matt Feiler is a former Steeler. Feiler signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Chargers in March of 2021 during free agency. Former Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett is also the assistant offensive line coach for the Chargers. Wide receivers coach Chris Beatty and defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill both former coached at Pitt.
No. 6. seed Baltimore Ravens — Wide receivers coach Tee Martin was a quarterback for the Steelers from 2000-01. Ravens scout Kevin Weidl is a Pittsburgh native and the brother of Steelers assistant general manager Andy Weidl. Backup strong safety Geno Stone went to New Castle.
No. 7 seed Miami Dolphins — Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram is the only Steelers player on Miami. Cedrick Wilson Jr. is also on the Dolphins, the son of a former Steelers wide receiver. Practice squad defensive lineman Jaylen Twywan went to Pitt.