Top 100 most influential people in Steelers history: 91 – 100

Time to get to it.

The teasers are over, now we get to the meat and potatoes. The top 100 Most Influential Steelers of all time, as determined by:

  • Incredibly in-depth research (NOT!)
  • Exhaustive interviews (I wish!)
  • Opinions of extremely knowledgeable and high IQ Football minds. (Nah, it’s just me!)

What we have here is one man’s idea (mine) of who the most impactful people in Steelers history are. As a reminder, this is NOT limited to players only. GM’s, Scouts, Coaches, Owners also get there moment in the sun on this list, because frankly, no matter how great the players are, they didn’t choose to come here for the most part – they were scouted, drafted, signed as free-agents, and then they, in most cases, stayed here, because frankly, who wouldn’t? (I know, I know, some don’t, but I know deep down in my heart that deep down in their hearts they regret it).

So like it or not, here we go with the list, starting with the bottom 10 (100-91).

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100 – Alejandro Villanueva

Tackle, 2015 – Present

I played with holding Big Al off the list and putting him in Honorable Mention. I actually had DeAngelo Williams here for a long time, but as much as DeAngelo brought to the table, Big Al’s story simply can’t be relegated to the Honorable Mention section. It’s just too good. Army Ranger, cut by several teams and then Coach Tomlin sees him across the field and falls in love with the Big Guy. Craig Wolfley said recently, somebody needs to make a movie out his life!

Add to that the fact that Al has constantly improved each year, and after only two seasons as a starting left tackle has become a key component to the Steelers offensive line. With the help of Coach Munchak and his own work ethic and inner drive to be the best, Al could become one of the best tackles in team history. Only time will tell the tale of that storyline, but for now, he’s definitely worthy of being in the top 100.

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99 – Kendrell Bell

Linebacker, 2001 – 2004

In a career shortened by injury, we are left with thoughts of what could have been. I remember his rookie season, (Defensive Rookie of the Year) and the power of the man. I can visualize him literally knocking the center or guard 5 yards into the backfield. I wanted to watch it again, but try as I might, I couldn’t find a link to a video clip. (This was NOT researched, it was going to be pure pleasure, but it ended up as a disappointment.)

His rookie season was so much fun, but unfortunately, that was about all we got out of him. I kept him in the top 100 because that image of the lineman getting blown up will never leave my memory.

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98 – John “Frenchy” Fuqua

Running Back, 1970 – 1976

Frenchy had to be in the top 100. I mean he just had to be. If for no other reason than how much he has played the legacy of “The Immaculate Reception” out over his life. He was no slouch though – he was (or at least thought he was) the fastest man on the team, and still, claims he was “never caught from behind”.

Yes, for the most part, he was a backup/reserve player, but Frenchy is like that crazy cousin or uncle that you love to death, and laugh at all the time because they just are so loveable. “The Count” deserves to be here, maybe even higher than I have him.

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97 – Merril Hoge

Running Back,  1987 – 1993

A tenth round pick. Tenth round! He never had a 1000 yard season, but man is he tough. We loved him for it too. Not only was he a violent, impactful runner, he could catch the ball too! Whenever I watch my “History of the Pittsburgh Steelers” DVD, I always laugh when they quote the guy from Denver who says something like “Hooge is killin’ us… Hooge Hoge, Hodge, whatever his name is”.

In a time where we didn’t have that much to cheer about, he was part of that team that “almost” got there, losing to Denver in the AFC championship game. I have to admit, I try and block out the memories of those losses. I don’t succeed, but I try.

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96 – “Big Play” Willie Gay

Cornerback, 2007-2011, 2013 – Present

I remember watching Will Gay in a college game at Louisville, and I was thrilled when the Steelers drafted him. Yeah, he had some growing pains, and yeah, he went to Steelers Southwest for a year, but you know what, I love Will Gay!

He’s crafty and he’s the anchor of the secondary right now. Plus whenever the guy picks the ball you just KNOW he’s going to DA HOUSE! His work for victims of domestic violence pre-dates Ray Rice and the NFL’s sudden awareness of the issue. He’s been an advocate for life, and I don’t even count that year in the desert – this guy is a Steeler for Life.

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95 – Jeff Hartings

Center, 2001 – 2006

When we think of free-agent signings, and the hits the Steelers have had, we often forget Hartings. He was originally a Detroit Lion, where he was a guard, but his best years were with us as a center. He was an All-Pro center in 2001 (second team) and 2004 (first team). He made the Pro Bowl a couple times as well, in 2004 and 2005.

What I mostly remember was the idiocy of the Pro Bowl process because he didn’t make it in 2001 when he was in fact, an All-Pro! Hartings was a member of the Super Bowl XL winners and a guy who definitely held up the legacy of great centers in Pittsburgh. More than a solid player, for several years he might have been in the top two or three centers in the league.

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94 – Mike Mitchell

Safety, 2014 – Present

Entering his fourth season with the Steelers Mike Mitchell has helped to stabilize the Steelers secondary, and last year showed continued growth and improvement. I love the way he plays (and I mostly accept the nonsense that sometimes goes along with it). He was a solid free-agent pickup – perhaps one of the better ones they Steelers have ever pulled off.

Mitchell has connected with the fan base and while he sometimes has to bear the brunt of their ire, I believe that Steelers Nation has warmed to and embraced him. He plays with an abandon and recklessness that can both excite and frustrate us (he needs to limit the friendly fire incidents!) but you cannot call him boring!

It was either Mike Mitchell or Kimo von Oelhoffen who was going to take this spot, and when it was time to cut bait, I went with Mitchell.

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93 – Gary Anderson

Kicker, 1982 – 1994

I had a tough time putting kickers on this list, but Gary Anderson deserves it – hell he deserves to be in the HOF! I don’t know all the records that Anderson has, but what sticks out in my mind is this – in 1983 the Steelers voted him the team MVP. A kicker. 4x Pro Bowler, 2 All-Pro nods, Member of the All Time Steelers team.

Heck, you could argue he belongs higher on the list. He played for like, a million years. He might still be kicking somewhere, I don’t know! He was with us for 13 seasons and that’s a long run for anybody. As of right now, he’s the best kicker in franchise history – he may not always be, but he is at the moment, and so he makes the list.

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92 – Dwayne Woodruff

Cornerback, 1979 – 1990 / PS4L*

(*Indicates player was a Steeler their entire career – “Pittsburgh Steelers For Life”)

Here Come Da Judge! Here Come Da Judge! 5 Defensive touchdowns (two via fumble, three via INT’s), 37 career picks and a 12-year career for this “Steeler for Life”. Woodruff can make the claim to being one of the best sixth round picks ever in the history of the Steelers. (We already know who the greatest is, but still, Woodruff wasn’t too shabby!). Woodruff was a team MVP in 1982 and he tied for the lead in interceptions in the AFC that year. I originally had him at 99, but as I started thinking about it, I moved him up seven spots to his current location.

I met Woodruff at the now defunct Legends Club with my daughter, and he was awesome. Cordial (as frankly every Steeler I have ever met has been) and really sweet to Emily. It was after meeting him that I went back and looked him up because while I knew the name, I couldn’t remember the context associated with it, and you know what, the guy was a player. He and his family have stayed in the Pittsburgh area, and have done charitable work in the area. He is (or was) a Judge, so I guess really I should be calling him The Honorable Dwayne Woodruff.

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91 – David DeCastro

Guard, 2012 – Present

I’m going to say it here and now – I think DeCastro could be a potential HOFer. He’s that good. He dominates, makes very few mistakes, and with Munchak guiding his progress, I think he could be one of the best ever. As of right now, he is locked up until 2021 (although the Steelers do have an out in his contract after 2018 if they choose to take it). He appears set to be a “Steeler for Life”, but we will have to see what happens after this contract when he’ll be 31 years of age.

He has now made two consecutive Pro-Bowls, and in my opinion, it should have been three. He was first team All-Pro in 2015 and second team in 2016. He’s so good that we forget he’s only been around since 2012, and he missed that first year due to injury. If we can keep him in the Black & Gold for the rest of his career, I can see DeCastro being in the top 25 All Time Steelers, and maybe the best guard we’ve ever had (and that is high praise considering some of the men who have played guard for us!).

DeCastro has moved on this list, being as high as 77, and as low as 96. Even as I’m writing this I keep thinking “Maybe I should switch him and…” but now it’s written, so that’s that!

Now if we can just get Brett Keisel to show him how to grow a beard – he’s too neat and tidy with his!


There you have it, spots 91-100. Tell me your thoughts Steelers Nation – I crave feedback! Argue with me, tell me I’m wrong, tell me I’m right, tell me I’m bat-sh*t crazy! I don’t care, but let’s have a conversation. Saying nothing means you implicitly agree that I am 100 percent right! No really, I think it’s a law. It could be a law… maybe… possibly, probably not, but it sounds like a good idea to me.

In the next ten we’ll hit our first non-player, a “Heat Seeking Missile” and a couple players I don’t have a clue how I even remembered.

Next: 81-90

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