Pittsburgh Steelers

Original Steel

No great civilization that followed it its footsteps could ever amount to the greatness that the Roman Empire achieved. Nothing after the original of anything, such as movies, books, and products, can ever live up to the legacy and impact that the first one had on society. In the NFL, no defense can ever live up to the original smash mouth, all business, and take no names defense. One defense ruled football in the 1970’s; they were known by one name, "The Steel Curtain." Opposing offenses, teams, and fans around America feared the front four of the Steel Curtain and that amazing defense loaded with pro bowlers and hall of famers. The Curtain was feared around America, but at home in Pittsburgh, they were heroes like Superman is to Metropolis. Fans worshiped these monsters of defense, these ambassadors of hits, and ministers of sacks, they were the pride and joy of that hard-working town known as the "Steel City." Every game painted pictures of the ferocious front defensive four were on almost every sign in the packed and noisy "Three Rivers Stadium," where the aroma of bratwurst and other meats being cooked in the parking lot filled the air. They fell in love with that defense in 1971, when "Mean" Joe Greene became the first pro bowler out of the unit. Joe is mostly remembered for the famous "Hey kid," Coca-Cola commercial… and many forget that he was the most dominating force ever at the defensive tackle position. But, he was only one of the six dominating players (four down lineman, and two linebackers) that made up the "Steel Curtain." The others were the hard hitting ferocious Jack Lambert (who was always in need of a dentist), and the smart mistake free Jack Ham, and the rest of the big men Dwight White, L.C. Greenwood, and Ernie Holmes, who along with Mean Joe made up the Curtain. They were the first and last of their kind, the elite, they were the defense that all defenses aspire to be.

The Rooney’s, (the illustrious Steeler owners) decided in 1968 that they were through with mediocrity and needed someone to bring them to contender level in the NFL. So when Chuck Noll put the Steelers on the map in 1968, the Rooney’s knew they had something special. The Steelers won their first Superbowl on January 12th, 1975 in their style over the Minnesota Vikings, as the Curtain forced five turnovers and went onto win 16-6. They did it the same way in Superbowl Twenty as they shutdown the Dallas Cowboys explosive offense to win their second straight Superbowl. Even though they didn’t win the Superbowl in the 1976 season, their eight game span to close out the season where they held their opponents to a combined 22 points along with five shutouts, is the greatest defensive showing in history. That year all but Ernie Holmes and Dwight White were starters in the pro bowl from the Curtain defense. The defense got older and more points were allowed, but the paintings of the front four and dominance of Greene, Ham, Lambert, Greenwood, Holmes and White continued onto win two more championship’s in 1979 and 1980.

Other defenses and teams in history were great, but none compared to the Curtain. No other defense produced four hall of famers, and an amazing list of pro bowl appearances. The Curtain got down and did the work necessary to be great, and the name is not what made them what they were. The name seemed to of been the reason the defense was so dominate, or so the Vikings "Purple People Eaters," and the Cowboy’s "Doomsday Defense" believed, though those names sounded as scary as the Steel Curtain, they never lived up to the legacy and ferociousness that the six hard-hitting monsters in black and yellow lived up to. Not even the Superbowl Shufflin’ Bears defense could get up to the standard in which the Curtain raised. They are forever the ones who make defense what it is today, even though no defense will ever live up to their caliber. The Curtain gave us hard hits, dominating performances, shutouts, defensive scores and even gave little kids their jerseys in exchange for refreshing carbonated beverages. They were the best… and nothing is ever better than the original.

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