As the Super Bowl nears, sports writers all across America will dig deep into the bag of statistics and trivia. Amazing facts are shoveled about everywhere, to end up on si.com, sports blogs, newspapers, and as factoids during the game itself. I compiled a list of some amazing Steelers facts during this past Super Bowl. My edited list follows. But first… some Steeler history:
The Pittsburgh Steelers were founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 8, 1933, by Art Rooney. The rights to the team cost him $2,500, which is around $40,000 in 2007 dollars.
According to football legend, Rooney purchased the team using money he had won at the Saratoga race track. What actually happened is that Rooney bought the team in 1933 using money he already had, but in 1936 he did win a longshot parlay bet at Saratoga that netted him almost $160,000 ($2,370,300 in 2007 dollars). Rooney did use most of this money to improve the team, especially by hiring coach Joe Bach. In fact, Rooney’s winnings from that day in Saratoga funded the team exclusively until 1941.
In that year, the Steelers were involved in one of the strangest ownership moves in NFL history. Rooney sold the Steelers to NYC playboy Alex Thompson. Since there was already a team in New York City, Thompson wanted to move the Steelers to Boston, the largest city close to New York without an NFL team. As the Steelers sale was being finalized, Philadelphia Eagles owner Bert Bell began having severe financial troubles. So Rooney agreed to buy 70% of the Eagles using the proceeds from the Steelers sale. Since Philadelphia is much closer to New York than Boston, when Thompson found out about the Rooney-Bell deal, he suggested that the two switch sides. So the Rooney-owned Eagles moved to Pittsburgh and the Thompson-owned Steelers moved to Philadelphia, both owners kept their original team names, and everyone was happy. Bell would later become NFL commissioner, a job that required him to divest myself from the team, so Rooney convinced Barney McGuinley, his sister’s father in law, to buy out Bell’s shares.
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Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Steelers have posted the best record in professional football. The Steelers have won the most total games, won the most divisional titles, earned the best winning percentage (including every expansion team), earned the most All-Pro nominations, reached the playoffs 24 times, won their division 19 times, played in 14 AFC championship games, and won six of seven Super Bowls. They are also 2nd overall in playoff wins and season game wins.
In the past 10 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers are an amazing 153-1-1 when leading a game by at least 11 points.
The 2008-09 Steelers are the first team in NFL history to defeat a team three times in one year while wearing three different uniforms. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh in Week 4 (throwback uniforms), Week 15 in Baltimore (road whites), and a final time in the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh (home black).
The Steelers have never lost a postseason game to a division rival. They are 8-0 against Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore and the old Houston Oilers.
Chuck Noll is the only head coach in NFL history to win 4 Super Bowls.
Mike Tomlin is the third consecutive Steelers head coach get to a Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys are the only other NFL team to have achieved this (under Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer).
Since 1969, the Atlanta Falcons have had 16 head coaches, the Indianapolis Colts have had 15 coaches, the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns have each had 14 coaches, and the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions have each had 13 coaches. In that same time, the Steelers have had 3 coaches, and all 3 have won at least one Super Bowl.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has won more games in his first five seasons than any quarterback in NFL history.
Since coming into the league in 2004, Roethlisberger has won 19 games in which the Steelers were trailing or tied late in the 4th quarter.
Supreme Court Justice Byron White played for the Steelers before settling in to a career in law.
Actor Ed O’Neill (Al Bundy from Married… With Children) was drafted as a linebacker by the Steelers in 1969… but was cut before the season started. Thus, Al’s “what if?” daydreams about being a high school football star have roots in reality.
This season, LaMarr Woodley became the first player in NFL history to have three straight multi-sack playoff games.
The Steelers drafted 5 Hall-of-Fame players in 4 consecutive years, with Mean Joe Greene (1969), Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount (1970), Jack Ham (1971), and Franco Harris (1972). However, the Steelers best single draft came in 1974, when they drafted 4 Hall-of-Fame players in a single season: center Mike Webster, wide receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, and linebacker Jack Lambert.
Cal Hubbard (who played for the Steelers in 1936) is the only player to be in both the NFL and MLB Halls of Fame.
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau knowns the poem “The Night Before Christmas” by heart, and recites it every year for the defensive players and their families.
LeBeau, 71, has been in the NFL for 50 years as either a player or coach.
Pittsburgh is the only city where all major league teams – the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins – have the same team colors: black and gold. This is because the official colors (and the official seal) of the city of Pittsburgh are based on the coat of arms of the city’s namesake, William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham.
The Steelers are the only NFL team that puts its logo on only one side of the helmet. Longtime field and equipment manager Jack Hart was instructed to do this by owner Art Rooney as a test to see how the logo appeared on the gold helmets; however, its popularity led the team to leave it that way permanently.