T he NFL Network counted down its top 10 all-time Steelers on Christmas Eve.
The network has produced many different countdown shows over the years, and all have lists that are debatable. This one was no different.
In case you missed it, here's how the list went: 10. Jerome Bettis; 9. Lynn Swann; 8. Hines Ward; 7. Troy Polamalu; 6. Mel Blount; 5. Jack Lambert; 4. Rod Woodson; 3. Franco Harris; 2. Terry Bradshaw; 1. Joe Greene.
The NFL Network used several analysts to discuss the various players and analyze the rankings. Most of them said how difficult the task was to limit the all-time list to 10, and they were correct.
The list did not include Hall of Famers Jack Ham, Mike Webster, John Stallworth and Ernie Stautner, the only player to have his jersey number retired by the Steelers. It also didn't have players like Andy Russell, L.C. Greenwood, Donnie Shell, Greg Lloyd, Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca and Casey Hampton, all of whom were selected to at least five Pro Bowls.
The final top 10 list came out somewhat as expected. Greene deserves the No. 1 nod, Bradshaw and Harris could flip-flop at Nos. 2 and 3, Lambert, Blount and Ward were/are the type of players Steelers fans can associate with, Swann did not have the stats Stallworth did but made more great catches in big games, and Bettis was the Steelers' offensive identity for nearly a decade.
The problems with the list are at No. 4 and No. 7. Woodson was no doubt great for the Steelers, but he never won a Super Bowl with the team and was a star for other teams, including the Baltimore Ravens. He apparently benefited from being an employee of the NFL Network.
At No. 7, Polamalu may have been helped by his recent success. He's heading toward a Hall of Fame career but hasn't quite reached it yet, and he has trouble staying healthy. When his career is finished, he may deserve a higher ranking, but let's wait a few years.
Ham, one of the greatest outside linebackers in the history of the NFL, should definitely be on the list, if not in the top five. And, as an upset pick, Rocky Bleier, who has always been a great ambassador for the Steelers and has a great story, should at least be in the conversation as a top 10 all-timer.
And if the Steelers win another Super Bowl soon, Ben Roethlisberger will definitely deserve a spot among the all-time Steeler greats.
Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.