Who’re the Next Steelers to get into the Hall of Fame?

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Art Rooney II and the Steelers Hall of Famers (Credit: Twitter/@NFL)

By Ray Porter Jr.

As the Pro Football of Fame enshrined the Class of 2023 on Saturday, you will notice that for the second-straight year, there weren’t any Pittsburgh Steelers selected. The last time the Steelers had a Hall of Famer was in 2020 when S Troy Polamalu, S Donnie Shell, and Head Coach Bill Cowher (Centennial Class) and in 2021, G Alan Faneca. No Steelers selected in 2022, or 2023.

So, the question is, which Steelers will be next to get their Gold Jacket? Here’s my list of Steelers eligible players from the past, present, and future who will eventually get their Hall of Fame ‘Knock’ on the door.

I. Players

  1. WR Hines Ward (1998-2011)-Here is a player that’s easily one of the toughest Wide Receivers in NFL History. He broke Cincinnati Bengal LB Keith Rivers and has even earned the respect of defensive players. His numbers are Hall of Fame-worthy: 12,083 receiving yards, 85 TDs (both Steelers Records), and he is one of only 14 players with 1,000 career receptions (more than Hall of Famers Randy Moss, and Andre Reed). He is ninth all-time with 1,181 postseason receiving yards and tied for fifth with ten touchdown catches. He was also a 2× Super Bowl champion (XL, XLIII), Super Bowl MVP (XL), 3× Second-team All-Pro (2002–2004), and 4× Pro Bowler (2001–2004). Ward has been a 7-time Semifinalist, and although he’ll probably need to wait until Andre Johnson, Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, and Steve Smith Sr. get in, he eventually will get in.
  2. LB James Harrison-Ok, although I do admit that I felt like he didn’t have a chance to get in, but after DT Bryant Young and DE Richard Seymour got their HOF Knocks on the door, Harrison definitely deserves it for one reason: Sacks. Harrison has 84.5 career sacks, Young has 89.5, and Seymour? 57.5. Yes, I know they played different positions, but they were also paid to do one thing: Get to the Quarterback, and Harrison was just as good as those guys. Plus, Harrison set the Steelers record for sacks in a season (16-before TJ Watt broke it in 2021), was the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 2× Super Bowl champion (XL, XLIII), 2x First-team All-Pro (2008, 2010) 2× Second-team All-Pro (2007, 2009), 5× Pro Bowl (2007–2011), NFL forced fumbles leader (2008) and he still has the record for the longest interception return in Super Bowl history (SB XLIII-2008). He was a HOF Semifinalist for the first time last year. It’s just a matter of time for him, too.
  3. K Gary Anderson-This is one of the reasons why I’m glad the Hall has adjusted their categories with the voting process because it can be easy for players like Anderson to get lost in the cracks. But just like the other Andersen (HOF Morten Anderson), Gary should be had to forget because of his career stats:

Single season

Held record for Points in a single season with no touchdowns scored: 1998 (164 points, 59 PATs, 35 FGs) (broken by David Akers in 2011)

Field goal percentage: 1998 (100%, 35/35)

Career

Points: 3rd place, 2,434 Held record from 2000 (passing George Blanda) until 2006 (passed by Morten Andersen)

FG made: 3rd place, 538

Extra points made: 4th place, 820

Games: 3rd place, 353

Points as a Pittsburgh Steeler: 1,343

Anderson was also a 2× First-team All-Pro (1985, 1998), Second-team All-Pro (1983), 4× Pro Bowl (1983, 1985, 1993, 1998), NFL scoring leader (1998), NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, Golden Toe Award (1998), PFWA All-Rookie Team (1982). He and Morten Andersen were easily considered the 2-best kickers in the 80’s and early 90’s. He received HOF Nominations in 2022 and 2023, but never made it as a Semifinalist. I feel like since Andersen finally got in, and Adam Vinatieri isn’t eligible yet, Anderson must get more consideration in 2024, along with first-time eligible kickers Phil Dawson and Sebastian Janikowski.

II. Coaches/Contributors

Art Rooney Jr.- One of 5 sons of Late Steelers Founder Art Rooney Sr. Employed with the Steelers since 1961, from 1964 through 1986, worked in the Steelers’ Scouting Department. Currently a Steelers vice president and member of the Board of Directors. He is currently a Semifinalist for the Senior Coach/Contributor Category. Rooney, along with HOF Bill Nunn, Sr., and Scout Dick Haley, helped build the franchise through the 70’s four Super Bowl runs that also produced 10 Hall of Famers. Rooney is currently a 2024 Semifinalist in the Senior, Coach/Contributor Category. If you play a part in drafting 10 future Hall of Famers and 4 Super Bowls in 6 years, then you deserve every chance to get that Hall of Fame knock. Art Sr. is in the Hall, along with Art Jr.’s brother, the Late Dan Rooney. It’s time for another Rooney to enter the Hall.

Honorable Mention: Unfortunately, I can’t add these to the list yet because they haven’t been Nominated in any category by the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet: DE LC Greenwood, LB Andy Russell, Dick Haley (Player Personnel), and Art Rooney II (Team President)

Please email Ray at [email protected]

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