1970s Steelers steal the show for Super Bowl 50 Golden Team
In celebration of the previous 49 Super Bowls, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selectors chose the "Super Bowl 50 Golden Team," which is led by eight members of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.Appropriately, Steelers coach Chuck Noll leads this m...
In celebration of the previous 49 Super Bowls, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selectors chose the "Super Bowl 50 Golden Team," which is led by eight members of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.
Appropriately, Steelers coach Chuck Noll leads this mythical team. Significantly, although the Steelers played in eight Super Bowls, all their selections come their 1970s-era dynasty that won four Super Bowls in a six-year stretch starting with the 1974 season.
Along with Noll, the Pittsburgh representatives are (alphabetically) cornerback Mel Blount, defensive lineman Joe Greene, outside linebacker Jack Ham, running back Franco Harris, inside linebacker Jack Lambert, wide receiver Lynn Swann and center Mike Webster.
However, Joe Montana was selected to quarterback this team after leading the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl wins while throwing 11 touchdowns, including five in one game, and no interceptions.
The only unanimous selection, and the only player still active in the league, is kicker Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. The former South Dakota State kicker made seven of 10 field-goal attempts, both Super Bowl career highs, and all 13 point after touchdowns. His 34 total points rank second in Super Bowl scoring only to the 48 points by 49ers/Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice.
Here is a look at the entire roster for the Super Bowl 50 Golden team:
Quarterback -- Joe Montana, 49ers
Running Backs -- Franco Harris, Steelers; Emmitt Smith, Cowboys
Tight end -- Jay Novacek, Cowboys
Wide receivers -- Jerry Rice, 49ers; Lynn Swann, Steelers
Offensive tackles -- Art Shell, Raiders; Forrest Gregg, Packers
Center: Mike Webster, Steelers
Offensive guards -- Gene Upshaw, Raiders; Larry Allen, Cowboys
Defensive ends -- Reggie White, Packers; Charles Haley, 49ers, Cowboys
Defensive tackles -- Joe Greene, Steelers; Randy White, Cowboys
Outside linebackers -- Lawrence Taylor, Giants; Jack Ham, Steelers
Inside linebackers -- Jack Lambert, Steelers; Ray Lewis, Ravens
Cornerbacks -- Mel Blount, Steelers; Deion Sanders, 49ers, Cowboys
Safeties -- Ronnie Lott, 49ers; Jake Scott, Dolphins
Punter -- Ray Guy, Raiders
Kicker -- Adam Vinatieri, Patriots, Colts
Returner -- Desmond Howard, Packers
Coach -- Chuck Noll, Steelers
After the Steelers' eight selections, only seven other franchises are represented -- Cowboys (six), 49ers (five), Raiders (three), Packers (three), then the Ravens, Dolphins and Colts with one each. Three selections played on two teams -- Sanders (49ers, Cowboys); Haley (49ers, Cowboys) and Vinatieri (Patriots, Colts).
The team, chosen by the 46 members of the Hall of Fame Selections committee, includes 22 players enshrined in the Hall.
"The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team is an amazing list of incredible individuals," Pro Football Hall of Fame executive vice president Joe Horrigan said in the press release announcing the team Thursday.
"Each name conjures up memories of some of the sport's greatest games showcased on its biggest platform, the Super Bowl stage. Unforgettable individual performances like Lynn Swann's acrobatic catches in Super Bowl X or Joe Montana's come-from-behind, game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII are forever etched in the collective memories of football fans and celebrated as some of the most inspiring moments in the history of the National Football League."
The names on the ballot we submitted were very close to the final team. Noting the basis of selections was on performance in the Super Bowl, we chose Raiders outside linebacker Rod Martin over Taylor.
In two games (Super Bowls XV and XVIII), Martin totaled three interceptions, one sack, one pass deflection and one recovered fumble. His three interceptions were all in Super Bowl XVIII, and he probably should have been selected Most Valuable Player in that game.
Although Taylor was a force in his two Super Bowls, and a player who transformed the game, his stats from two appearances in the Super Bowl included no interceptions, no sacks and no passes defensed, and he neither caused nor recovered any fumbles.
At punter, Guy might seem to be an easy pick for his three games, but Jerrel Wilson of the Kansas City Chiefs is more than a footnote in Super Bowl history, averaging 46.5 yards per boot.
However, Guy gets the nod for his memorable performance in Super Bowl XVIII. One play was the single most spectacular punt in Super Bowl history. On a high snap, Guy soared to make a spectacular, one-hand grab (later to be measured 12 feet off the ground). He then boomed the punt 42 yards for a touchback. Guy punted seven times for 299 yards (42.7 average) and planted five of his seven punts inside the 20.
The selection at center of the great Mike Webster, who died at the age of 50, comes at a time when his plight as a player was central to the current movie "Concussion." The movie tells the tale of how Webster became the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which doctors surmised was caused by multiple concussions.
Nicknamed Iron Mike, Webster was undersized at 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, and was only a fifth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin in 1974. Webster became a starter in 1976, played 150 consecutive games, and defenders claimed he had the "best hands in the NFL" because of his vice-like grip.
In informal surveys, Webster was selected as the best center in NFL history, but his lasting legacy will be his vital role in bringing attention to player safety in all levels of football.
Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 26th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.