As part of the Heinz History Center's continued promotion of the Gridiron Glory traveling exhibition of Pro Football Hall of Fame artifacts appearing there through January, the busts of all 22 Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are on display at the Heinz History Center through Monday.
This is a pretty cool and rare thing to happen -- the busts rarely travel outside of the hall. Between them being there and all of the other rare items on display in the Gridiron Glory exhibition, short of airlifting the entire Hall of Fame from Canton to Pittsburgh and doing the induction ceremonies here each year (not a bad idea, actually) this is truly the closest thing you'll get actually making the 90-mile drive west.
The quality of the statues has certainly gotten better over the years -- the 1964 bust of Art Rooney Sr. is a bit blockish while this year's carving of Dermontti Dawson looks exactly like the guy. In between is everyone from Bert Bell to Jack Butler and Ernie Stautner to John Stallworth. It's worth checking out just to watch the clips of Terry Bradshaw, Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, Joe Greene and other Steelers' induction speeches playing on monitors by the exhibit.
This inevitably brings up the discussion of what Steelers aren't in the Hall of Fame that perhaps have been snubbed, and what members of the Steelers now -- or recently retired -- are might someday be in the Hall of Fame ...
L.C. Greenwood: 73.5 career sacks (unofficial), six-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time All Pro, four-time Super Bowl champion, member of the NFL's all-decade team for the 1970's, member of the Steelers all-time team, founding member of the Steel Curtain, and let's not forget the shoes. Likely veterans committee selection someday.
Donnie Shell: The five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl champion retired as the NFL strong safety career leader in interceptions with 51. He started eleven straight years for Pittsburgh and was selected to the Steelers' All-Time Team and to the NFL Silver Anniversary Super Bowl Team. Also possible for veteran's committee vote someday though he seems to get overlooked.
Bill Cowher: Second winningest coach in Steelers history, won Super Bowl XL. Per wikipedia: "In Cowher’s 15 seasons, the Steelers captured eight division titles, earned ten postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles." Plus he was as iconic a coach as any over the last 20 years, but one Super Bowl might not be enough to cinch the deal.
Jerome Bettis: He's been a finalist as recently as this year, and you figure the Steelers all-time leading rusher, and sixth overall in NFL history will get in sooner rather than later. Also, in case you forgot: six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro; 1993 Offensive rookie of the year, 2001 Walter Payton Man of the Year and 1996 Comeback Player of the Year. One of the most popular players of his era.
Alan Faneca: Nine-time Pro Bowl selection; nine-time All-Pro pick, a two-time NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year and a member of the NFL's All-Decade teanm for th 2000's. He's in the discussion for the most dominant guard of the last two decades.
Hines Ward: Holds the Steelers career records for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns; Super Bowl XL MVP; regarded as the greatest blocking receiver to play the game -- so much that a rule was made about him; a four-time Pro Bowl selection was enormously popular but also a lightning rod for opposition. Like the Bus, he might not be a first-ballot entry, but he'll get in soon.
Troy Polamalu: A shoe-in. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection, five-time All Pro, NFL All-Decade team selection, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and the NFL Alumni Player of the Year is one of the most unique talents to ever play the game, is also incredibly popular nationally, universally regarded as a great guy and probably the poster child of what the NFL wishes all of its players were like.Ben Roethlisberger: Another shoe in. Will obliterate all Steelers passing records before he's done. The 15-1 season, youngest QB to win a Super Bowl, game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLIII ... one could fill pages with his accomplishments.
Any others? Carnell Lake? Casey Hampton? James Farrior? Aaron Smith? ... make a case in the comments.