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View Full Version : Feeling Verklempt. Top 10 Steeler LB's of All Time. Discuss.



RuthlessBurgher
06-22-2011, 10:21 AM
http://fajitamonologues.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/linda-richman3.jpg

It's the offseason in the midst of a lockout. There is literally no football to talk about. So we need to spurn some actual discussion. I tried starting folks talking about their own personal top 5 Steeler QB post-Bradshaw and pre-Ben, but that seemed to die out quickly because, frankly, they all sucked. So...what doesn't suck? STEELER LINEBACKERS, that's what!!! Gimme your own personal top 10. Here's mine:

1. Jack Ham
2. Jack Lambert
3. James Harrison
4. Greg Lloyd
5. James Farrior
6. Andy Russell
7. Levon Kirkland
8. Joey Porter
9. Kevin Greene
10. LaMarr Woodley

Here another interesting thought...with so many great Steeler linebackers, I wonder if our next ten LB's (11-20) would be better than most team's top 10 LB's in history? Off the top of my head, the next 10 Steeler LB's would include guys like Robin Cole, Mike Merriweather, Chad Brown, Lawrence Timmons, David Little, Jason Gildon, Bryan Hinkle, Earl Holmes, Jerry Olsavsky, and Clark Haggans (if you want to put Larry Foote in over Holmes, Olsavsky, or Haggans, I'll give you that one). Our second tier guys aren't going to beat out teams like the Bears (Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, etc.) or the Giants (Lawrence Taylor, Sam Huff, Harry Carson, Carl Banks, etc.), but isn't our 11-20 LB's better than, say, the Bengals' 1-10 LB's (and numerous other teams, for that matter)?

sentinel33
06-22-2011, 11:31 AM
Can't leave out Gildon.

In a couple more years-Can't leave out Timmons.

Can't make a top 10.

Not this team.

Maybe other teams, but not this one.

Here We Go!!!

flippy
06-22-2011, 01:18 PM
1. James Harrison
2. Jack Ham
3. Jack Lambert
4. Andy Russell
5. Lawerence Timmons
6. Lamar Woodley
7. James Farrior
8. Chad Brown
9. Greg Lloyd
10. Levon Kirkland

I had the hardest time picking between Harrison and Ham. I really have those 2 at 1a and 1b. I gave the edge to Harrison because of the splash plays, the QB sacks, the FFs, and the tackles for a pass rusher are insane. Ham's the gold standard for all around LB play, so it was hard to put him at 2. It's hard to compare cause they played different positions and had different responsibilities. In the end I gave the edge to Harrison because of his pick 6 in the SuperBowl - greatest Steelers highlight of all time in my book.

It's not like the rest of the list beyond #3 and #4 was easy for me either.

Timmons at 5 is premature, but I had to put him there because he's the only other LB that has it all like the top 4. And he's got the talent to reach the top of the list when it's all said and done. I also considered Woodley @ 5 too even though it's premature. I'm more or less predicting where those 2 guys end up.

Then I went with Farrior who plays his position perfectly a la Jack Ham. If I had a kid that wanted to be a LB, I'd tell him to watch as much of Jack Ham and James Farrior. If Farrior had half of Ham's range in coverage, we might be able to make the case for him @ #1.

At this point, I was a little miffed I hadn't put Lloyd, Kirkland, Brown, or Porter in my list. I can make a case for all 4 of those guys going in the 8-10 spot, but there were only 3 spots.

Brown had the best all around game of the 4, so I gave him the edge over Lloyd since I went the other way with Harrison/Ham. If I was consistent, I'd have Lloyd @ 8, but I'm not. How to rate splash plays versus all around play? It's easy to go either way.

That left Porter and Kirk. Really a toss up and again hard to compare across positions. So on this one, it came down to what made these guys unique for their respective positions and I think it was their coverage ability. Joey was the best in coverage for a 3-4 OLB and Kirkland was the best 300+ LB player I've ever seen in coverage. So I gave the nod to Kirkland just because it was more impressive a guy that big was so nimble.

But I'm bummed to have left Porter out who is one of my favorites. His ability to get inside a guy's head is legendary. And he backed up his talk and took pressure off the young guys. The way he became the story in SuperBowl XL, made Stevens his huckleberry, and took away all the media pressure from Ben was vintage Porter. I always thought there was a method to his madness. So I figured leaving him off the list would make him mad and be poetic justice.

Shoe
06-22-2011, 01:26 PM
I agree with the Gildon remark, though I also wouldn't put him on MY top 10. How do you leave the all-time sack leader in team history off the list?

I like RuthlessBurgher's list more. Though Harrison's game is still fresh on my mind and as objectively as possible: he probably has been the better player. I have trouble elevating him over my all-time 1b player, #95.

flippy: I don't know how you put Chad Brown over Lloyd. Even under your criteria of all-around player, I wouldn't say he was. In either case, he only gave us what, four years, maybe three good years? Lloyd had probably six, seven good years with the team.

flippy
06-22-2011, 01:41 PM
When we move Brown outside in 94 he was a beast. He had way more sacks that year than Lloyd ever did if I remember correctly. The one are Lloyd had over Brown imho was the forced fumbles and the intimidation.

If Brown woulda stayed in Pittsburgh @ OLB, his career stats would have blown away Lloyd's. They may have, I didn't really follow him closely when he went to Seattle. And I should probably drop him off the list because of his short stint in Pittsburgh.

I do remember being bummed when we lost him.

papillon
06-22-2011, 03:49 PM
Ham
Lambert
Harrison
Russell
Farrior
Lloyd
Greene
Porter
Kirkland
Woodley

Honorable Mention: Timmons, Jason Gildon, Robin Cole, Chad Brown, Hardy Nickerson, Mike Meriweather, Henry Davis, Dirt Winston, Jerry Olsavsky, Loren Toews, Bryan Hinkle, Foote, David Little, Kendrell Bell, etc. I'm sure there are others that I have missed for the honorable mention list. My list only goes back to circa 1970; I have to assume there were good to great linebackers in the early years, but I didn't see them play, so they aren't on the list.

Timmons will be replacing someone on this list in a couple years provided he produces in similar fashion as he did last year and to a lesser degree the year before.

Does any other team have the pedigree at one position throughout their history that the Steelers have at the linebacker position?

Pappy

Discipline of Steel
06-22-2011, 07:31 PM
Jack Lambert set the Steeler Standard as Intimidators and for that i will always revere him as #1. James Harrison has been such a joy to have on the team, he plays a complete game and carries the tradition well (Flippy :Beer ). With that said heres my stab at it...

Lambert
Harrison
Ham
Lloyd
Farrior
Kirkland
Russell
Porter
Merriweather
Timmons

Dirt Winston 11...Brown, Greene, and Nickerson didnt stick around long enough.

hawaiiansteel
06-22-2011, 07:53 PM
Jack Lambert (my all-time favorite Pittsburgh Steeler) :tt2
Jack Ham
Greg Lloyd
James Harrison
Kevin Greene
Levon Kirkland
James Farrior
Andy Russell
Joey Porter
Mike Merriweather

http://throwbacksnw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Lambert1.jpg

MadSteel
06-22-2011, 08:13 PM
1. Jack Lambert
2. James Harrison
3. Jack Ham
4. Levon Kirkland
5. Greg Lloyd
6. Jason Gildon
7. James Farrior
8. Andy Russell
9. Joey Porter
0. LaMarr Woodley

4-8 could be arranged in about any order and you could take out 9 or 10 and add Kevin Greene or Mike Merriweather.

steelblood
06-22-2011, 11:12 PM
Russell me up some Greene Ham and Lamb(ert).

1.Ham (Best linebacker ever)
2.Lambert (Meanest Linebacker ever)
3.Russell (Smartest Linebacker ever)
4.James Harrison (creates turnovers and sacks at a rate unlike any other Steeler)
5.Greg Llyod (stats don't tell the story. He was nearly as disruptive as Lawrence Taylor)
6.James Farrior (So smart, so tough, complete player and top notch tackler)
7.Levon Kirkland (Offensive linemen playing linebacker)
8.Kevin Greene (not enough years in the B&G to be any higher)
9.Joey Porter
10. I can't decide here. Wood is good. Chad Brown was no Clown. Timmons has vast potential. Hinkle, Holmes, and Little were all good players with good Steeler careers. Merriwether was a great talent while he was here and not holding out.


Woods and Porter are great 3-4 pass rush

ramblinjim
06-23-2011, 08:13 AM
Lambert
Ham
Harrison
Kirkland
Russell
Lloyd
Farrior
Porter
Gildon
Timmons

It's hard to judge guys like Merriweather, Hinkle and Cole because they played on some not very good teams and don't have the playoff and SuperBowl pedigree than some of these guys and other like Merriweather, Nickerson, Brown didn't hang around very long.

flippy
06-23-2011, 09:15 AM
Is it fair to the modern players that we have so much reverence for Ham, Russell, and Lambert.

Back in the day, football was a part time job. Now guys start working out when they're 2. So the size, speed, athleticism doesn't compare. The competition doesn't compare. Seriously could you imagine Ham or Lambet having to take on a guy the size of Hotel 1 on 1 and beat him to make a play? And can any 4-3 LB really be compared to what a 3-4 OLB is asked to do? These 3-4 OLBs probably all deserve to be ranked the highest just because of what it requires out of a player.

Guys like Harrison, Woodley, Porter, Lloyd, etc. have to have a bigger skill set than the Hams and Lamberts and the Russells. The 3-4 OLB doesn't have one of the best DLinemene world protecting him to make plays. These guys have to be able to pass rush like a DE and drop into coverage like a ILB/Safety.

These guys just do so much more that you could probably make the argument that a guy like Joey Porter is a better all around player than Ham or Lambert. It was just that Ham and Lambert where head an shoulders above their contemporary LBs in the 70s. And Joey Porter had too many other full time NFL LBs that were quality guys across the league, so he wasn't that much better than other LBs in his generation.

Now to James Harrison, he's so much better than others at his position. And that's way harder to do now than it was back in the 70s. And as I rethink this a bit, Harrison deserves to be #1 by a long shot over Ham and Russell and Lambert.

But it's hard to see through the nostalgia for the older guys.

Discipline of Steel
06-23-2011, 05:35 PM
Is it fair to the modern players that we have so much reverence for Ham, Russell, and Lambert.

Back in the day, football was a part time job. Now guys start working out when they're 2. So the size, speed, athleticism doesn't compare. The competition doesn't compare. Seriously could you imagine Ham or Lambet having to take on a guy the size of Hotel 1 on 1 and beat him to make a play? And can any 4-3 LB really be compared to what a 3-4 OLB is asked to do? These 3-4 OLBs probably all deserve to be ranked the highest just because of what it requires out of a player.

Guys like Harrison, Woodley, Porter, Lloyd, etc. have to have a bigger skill set than the Hams and Lamberts and the Russells. The 3-4 OLB doesn't have one of the best DLinemene world protecting him to make plays. These guys have to be able to pass rush like a DE and drop into coverage like a ILB/Safety.

These guys just do so much more that you could probably make the argument that a guy like Joey Porter is a better all around player than Ham or Lambert. It was just that Ham and Lambert where head an shoulders above their contemporary LBs in the 70s. And Joey Porter had too many other full time NFL LBs that were quality guys across the league, so he wasn't that much better than other LBs in his generation.

Now to James Harrison, he's so much better than others at his position. And that's way harder to do now than it was back in the 70s. And as I rethink this a bit, Harrison deserves to be #1 by a long shot over Ham and Russell and Lambert.

But it's hard to see through the nostalgia for the older guys.

Hell yeah Flippy ! I love to see the respect James Harrison is getting on this board right now. He is just lights out, other teams fear him. He has shouldered the burden of the new rule enforcements, with a lot of support among the NFL players...the man is legendary. But he has one more level to attain before he reaches Lambert status. He has to really lead that defense and make them all intimidators. That was the Lambert magick. This year, James Harrison will assume that mantle from James Farrior. If he can go out and get us a Super Bowl this year as the leader of that defense, then he will have elevated himself considerably in comparison to Jack Lambert.

RuthlessBurgher
06-23-2011, 07:24 PM
That, and knock out his own two front teeth...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_f3fTVkavMVg/SOq_ybZ3IhI/AAAAAAAAARA/iCdRelj0f3s/S220/jacklambert.jpg

fordfixer
06-24-2011, 12:51 AM
1 Jack Ham
2 Jack Lambert
3 James Harrison
4 Greg Lloyd 5 Andy Russell
6 Levon Kirkland
7 Kevin Greene
8 Joey Porter
9 James Farrior
10 LaMarr Woodley

BradshawsHairdresser
06-24-2011, 09:57 AM
Jack Lambert (my all-time favorite Pittsburgh Steeler) :tt2
Jack Ham
Greg Lloyd
James Harrison
Kevin Greene
Levon Kirkland
James Farrior
Andy Russell
Joey Porter
Mike Merriweather



Pretty good list. I could go along with it.

hawaiiansteel
06-26-2011, 05:50 PM
Another Look: Mike Merriweather

Wed Jun 22, 2011
By Bob Barrickman Times Sports Correspondent

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41WjRKIwEiL.jpg

?If his first tackle didn’t prove he could play in the NFL, Mike Merriweather’s second one certainly did.

“It was against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football,” said the former Steelers outside linebacker of his first game. “My first tackle was against (running back) Robert Newhouse, and my second one was against Tony Dorsett.”

Merriweather was reunited with the Hopewell Township legend earlier this month at Dorsett’s annual golf outing. Now living in the Bay Area of California and raising three teenaged sons, The 50-year-old Merriweather isn’t in the area much. But his impression in the post-Steel Curtain days won’t soon be forgotten.

Merriweather was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 1982 draft out of Pacific. He became an instant star when he replaced Hall of Famer Jack Ham at left outside linebacker. Merriweather finished fifth in the league in sacks with 15 in 1984 as the Steelers reached the AFC championship game before losing to the Dolphins.

Merriweather was named All-Pro that season.

The sacks for Merriweather dipped after that splendid season, but he was good enough to be named All-Pro in 1985 and ‘86. Merriweather averaged double digits per game in tackles in each of those three years. He recorded 5.5 sacks in 1987.

But Merriweather may best be remembered for taking a stand by sitting out the 1988 season over a salary dispute.

Merriweather was traded to the Vikings for a first-round draft choice in 1989. That season, he became the first player to win a game with an overtime safety.

The Vikings won the NFC Central in ‘89 and again in Merriweather’s last year with the team in 1992. He ended his 11-year career in 1993 by playing with the Jets and Packers.

After piling up 30˝ sacks in his final four years in Pittsburgh, Merriweather had ten sacks in his final five seasons. His numbers never approached the ones he put up prior to his holdout in ‘88.

“I have no regrets,” said Merriweather on skipping the 1988 season. “I had a great career.”

Merriweather was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1980s.

http://www.timesonline.com/sports/anoth ... 22220.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/another_look/another-look-mike-merriweather/article_6bee3335-6164-5967-9da7-c308d3822220.html)

flippy
06-27-2011, 10:50 AM
That, and knock out his own two front teeth...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_f3fTVkavMVg/SOq_ybZ3IhI/AAAAAAAAARA/iCdRelj0f3s/S220/jacklambert.jpg

Lambert was a scary guy back in the day, but I have a feeling if James Harrison stared him down, Jack's knees would buckle.

Harrison brings fear and uncertainty to a new level imho.

RuthlessBurgher
06-27-2011, 12:06 PM
That, and knock out his own two front teeth...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_f3fTVkavMVg/SOq_ybZ3IhI/AAAAAAAAARA/iCdRelj0f3s/S220/jacklambert.jpg

Lambert was a scary guy back in the day, but I have a feeling if James Harrison stared him down, Jack's knees would buckle.

Harrison brings fear and uncertainty to a new level imho.

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc. are all earth's effort to get the hell out of the way whenever James Harrison and Jack Lambert get too close to one another.

TallyStiller
07-01-2011, 03:59 PM
In defense of the older guys, level playing field then, just as now... What's to say that given today's workout regimens and nutrition science, Lambert and Ham wouldn't have been 25 or 30 pounds heavier without losing a step? And even going back just 15 or 20 years, IIRC Greg Lloyd listed at a roster weight of 226 in a league where Nate "The Kitchen" Newton and Erik Williams were averaging about 340 as the Cowboys' bookends, and he cracks several top 10 lists here, and would likely be far higher if not for the staph infection that sadly and prematurely ended what I believe would've been a career that'd put him in the top 5 on this list, minimum, and might've netted us a '90's ring.

You can't assume that those guys would dominate now like they did then, but you can't assume they wouldn't. They were the best there was when they played.

I could more easily argue, I think, that those guys had better players around them. As much as I like Snack and Smitty, I'd take Greene, Greenwood, White and Holmes as my D Line in a minute. And as good as Troy is, the '70's secondaries were better, too, because we actually had corners who could cover somebody and catch the ball. The defenses as a whole were, in the opinion of someone who watched both, more dominant in the '70's - we won our first Super Bowl hamstrung by a COMPLETELY one dimensional offense. The D often had to win games all by itself, and it DID - in the '75 playoffs we turned the ball over 13 times in 2 games and still won both. Can't imagine this D withstanding that.

Point of this is that opinion of the overall D could cloud the judgment of some of us old timers in favor of the Ham Lambert Russell trio that spearheaded that unit.

hawaiiansteel
07-01-2011, 04:28 PM
As much as I like Snack and Smitty, I'd take Greene, Greenwood, White and Holmes as my D Line in a minute.


we could then switch back to a 4-3 defense and make Ovi a very happy man. :D