Former Steelers offensive tackle and adored radio analyst Tunch Ilkin died Saturday after battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ilkin was 63.
He retired from the broadcast booth on June 3 after 23 years on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network, passing three months after stepping away from the team.
An outpouring of love and support filled social media in remembrance of Ilkin and the impact he left both on the game and those who knew him.
Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement addressing Tunch’s impact on the organization.
Statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II on the passing of Tunch Ilkin: pic.twitter.com/fdjFz9rI23
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 4, 2021
“We are heartbroken by the passing of Tunch Ilkin,” Rooney II said. “He was a man of faith who dedicated his entire life to being a devout Christian and family man.”
Ilkin spent 37 years in the NFL and 36 with the Steelers, leaving a lasting impression as a Steeler for life.
“He was loved by his family, teammates, and friends,” Rooney II said. “We were fortunate to have Tunch as a player and broadcaster for so many years. Our condolences to his entire family during this difficult time.”
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Ilkin’s parents emigrated to the United States two years after his birth. Selected in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of Indiana State, Ilkin earned two Pro Bowl selections in 1988 and 1989, also serving five years as the Vice-president of the NFLPA.
Ilkin joined Myron Cope and Bill Hillgrove on the Steelers radio team as a color commentator in 1998 before becoming a full-time analyst after Cope’s retirement in 2004.
Craig Wolfley moves from the sideline to the booth with Hillgrove in Ilkin’s former position moving forward, with former Steelers tackle Max Starks replacing Wolfley as the third member of the crew.