Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?
As the team prepares the inaugural class of its Hall of Honor, Mike Prisuta selects the four members of the Steelers family most deserving of inclusion.
The problem isn’t cutting,” Chuck Noll once observed just after a preseason loss and just before a mandatory reduction of the roster, “it’s stopping.”
It’s the other way around with the Steelers’ new Hall of Honor.
The franchise has finally decided to publicly brag a little bit about its storied history. There won’t be a ring of honor at Heinz Field, as is the case in so many other NFL stadiums; instead, the Hall of Honor will be on display inside the FedEx Great Hall.
“This is probably long overdue,” team president Art Rooney II acknowledged in an Aug. 1 press release, as plans for the Hall were announced.
The goal is to recognize, via an annual series of ceremonies, former players, coaches and contributors who were “integral in creating and sustaining the franchise’s success dating back to when the team was founded in 1933.”
The initial challenge with such an undertaking won’t be finding candidates who are viable. It’ll be drawing the line. The Steelers claim ties with 24 players and coaches who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, according to the team’s media guide. They range from Art Rooney Sr., who founded the franchise, to Kevin Greene, who played three of his 15 NFL seasons with the Steelers.
The Hall of Honor will also serve as a formal acknowledgment of those the Steelers suspect have been worthy but overlooked when it comes to Hall-of-Fame inclusion (L.C. Greenwood, Donnie Shell and Andy Russell come immediately to mind).
Alas, it wouldn’t be practical or proper to make everyone who’s met the Hall-of-Honor standard a part of the first Hall-of-Honor class; still, you have to start somewhere.
Why not start with the Steelers’ Mount Rushmore?
The selection committee (Rooney, Joe Gordon, Bob Labriola, Stan Savran and Tony Quatrini), even if it agreed to such a concept, would likely have its own ideas regarding who would be most deserving; we’ll find out when the inaugural class is announced on Aug. 29.
In the meantime, here’s mine:
DAN ROONEY — “The Chief” was and remains a beloved figure. But his son Dan is the one under whose stewardship the Steelers became consistent winners. There would be no finer lasting tribute than to have “The Ambassador” symbolically lead the franchise’s Hall-of-Honor parade.
CHUCK NOLL — He may or may not be the greatest coach in NFL history, but he’s in the conversation. His 4-0 record in Super Bowls is indisputably the best in NFL history and qualifies Noll to be among the first the Steelers honor in such a fashion, no matter the configuration of the Hall of Honor’s debut group.
JOE GREENE — How can you differentiate among Hall-of-Fame players? By recognizing the obvious: As far as the Steelers are concerned, there’s Greene and then there’s everybody else. No one who wore the uniform should go in ahead of Greene. No one who wore the uniform should go in with Greene.
BILL NUNN — Perhaps the greatest scout in NFL history, Nunn broke racial barriers and found the athletes Noll turned into the “Team of the 1970s.” Beyond that, he was a champion for social change whose influence extended beyond the game. How is he still so underrated and under-appreciated, historically speaking? The bench dedicated to his memory overlooking the practice fields at Saint Vincent College was a step in the right direction. But Nunn’s character and career are worthy of the highest recognition the Steelers are capable of giving, recognition that might also boost Nunn’s chances of someday winding up in Canton.
Stopping at those four wouldn’t necessarily be easy — but the Steelers’ Hall of Honor could do a lot worse for starters.