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View Full Version : Best modern era Steeler backs.



lloydroid
12-04-2012, 10:01 PM
Who do you think were the best Steeler backs of all time? And by this, I mean, who was the most talented at their zenith, as opposed to considering longevity as much. In other words, if we could choose the best backs to have, in their prime, how would you rank them? Using this model, total yards gained as a Steeler would not be the only factor.

Here is how I see it. (Oh, by the way, I never include players that played before the 1970s. It's just not apples to oranges if you go back any further than that, so Dick Hoak won't make my list.)

10. Bam "bong" Morris - Yea, he was an idiot and his partying cost him his NFL career. But, when he did play, he was a handful. He had a great combination of speed, size and power. But, alas, just too much of a knuckle head and couldn't help buying car trunks full of weed.

9. Walter Abercrombie. He was supposed to be the next great Steeler back. He never really lived up to that but he was the starting back for a handful of season. He had good speed.

8. Earnest Jackson - His coach at the time for the Eagles, Buddy Ryan said he would trade Jackson for a warm six pack. But, it turns out, Jackson was the best back we had to two seasons. And he was on really bad Steeler teams, some of the worst in the modern era (80s). But Jackson could play. He was no super star by any means but he was a pretty solid back.

7. Frankie Pollard - Frankie was also on really bad Steeler teams in the 80s but he could play. He was short but big (220) and could have been a top 10 back at the time if he was on a decent team.

6. Merrill Hoge - Merrill could play. He was one of those fairly rare players who was happy to block but could make catches out of the backfield and was a decent runner as well. He was intrical in the late 80s run that many said was one of Noll's best years as coach. They started the season getting throttled but ended up making the play offs, winning a game, and nearly upsetting the Broncos. Hoge was a major part of that run. He ended up going to Chicago after that, and did virtually nothing having suffered concussion problems, which was way before concussions were focused on so much like today.

5. Rocky Bleier - Everyone knows the Rocky story, where he was drafted twice - once by the Steelers and once by the US govt. for Vietnam war. He blew off some of his foot while there, and they said he would never play again - maybe not even walk. But Rocky was so determined to make it back. In a total class move, Art Rooney sent Rock a note while in the hospital recovering from his wounds that said, "Make it back soon, we need your help." But make no mistake, Rocky was more than a good story, he could run the ball, catch the ball and block. He was pretty darn little to play FB but he really did contribute to those great 70s teams.

4. Willie Parker - Willie was not a complete back and didn't have a real long career but in his day, he was a blazer, who still owns the longest TD in Super Bowl history. I remember in his major debut, where he ran all over the Titans in week one when Bettis was hurt. I recall Jeff Fisher, saying to Cowher after the game, "That is a good running back you got there."

3. Barry Foster - I think he is the most underrated of all of them. I remember when he just destroyed the Browns in the play offs. We beat them twice in the season and everyone was saying how hard it is to beat a team 3 times in one season. That claim turned out to be a joke, as Barry "Bananas" Foster ran all over the Browns that day. He was really good at making sharp cuts, had powerful legs and a low center of gravity. After he got his first big pay check, he just couldn't handle the stress and strains of playing anymore. He quit on Pgh, then quit on the Bengals and then, I believe, quit on SF. But in his day, he was a very good back.

2. Franco Harris - Most would put him at #1 and he could deserve it. Franco was a big back, so big that he could play today if he were in his prime. He had a nice high gear for being that big of a back. There are endless highlights of this guy on the greatest team ever. I don't care that he stepped out of bounds to save his body. If you see him today, he almost looks like he could still play. Franco is one of the biggest legends of all time in Pgh sports. No doubt.

1. Jerome Bettis - I have the Bus at #1 because I think he was the best back in Steeler history, period. Almost no back in the history of the NFL had that much size with that nimble of feet. And, he is the only big, big back that lasted so many seasons. Every 250+ lb back had only one 1,000 yard season, except for Natrone Means, he had a total of 2. Bettis had 7 if I recall. Bettis was a legend and was the best trade in the history of the franchise. How many iconic games did this guy have? My favorite is his last hurrah when we were playing Chicago and needed the win to make the play offs. The Bears were favored in that game, the snow started to fall, and there is that play where Urlacher, the best middle LB at the time, taking JB head on at the goal line, and JB just runs over him, and the Steelers ended up securing their first SB since the 1970s. I will never forget that season or game.

skyhawk
12-04-2012, 10:07 PM
Great list.

Don't forget Tim Worley and John Henry Johnson ;)

lloydroid
12-04-2012, 10:13 PM
Great list.

Don't forget Tim Worley and John Henry Johnson ;)

John Henry was probably better than some on this list but it's just too old school for me. I have trouble caring about sports that happened before I was alive. Worley...very similar to Morris story, and kind of similar runner too. I heard he was a big, big partier, including lots of blow, allegedly. :D

hawaiiansteel
12-04-2012, 10:18 PM
going by your parameters:

10. Earnest Jackson

9. Byron "Bam" Morris

8. Frank Pollard

7. Walter Abercrombie

6. Fast Willie Parker

5. Rocky Bleier

4. Merrill Hoge

3. Barry Foster

2. Jerome Bettis

1. Franco Harris

anger 82&95
12-04-2012, 10:32 PM
Frank Pollard had a 100yrd game against the 49ers in 1984. The dude was a beast during the Steeler dark ages.

Chadman
12-04-2012, 11:44 PM
No John L. Williams?

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 12:36 AM
Frank Pollard had a 100yrd game against the 49ers in 1984. The dude was a beast during the Steeler dark ages.

I think Frankie is one of the most underrated Steelers of the modern era.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 12:36 AM
No John L. Williams?

I thought about it, but the bulk of his best days were in Seattle so it didn't feel right to me.

Chadman
12-05-2012, 12:44 AM
Or Dan Kreider?

hawaiiansteel
12-05-2012, 01:15 AM
Or Dan Kreider?

what's your Top-10?

Shoe
12-05-2012, 02:13 AM
Lots of fisherman here I see... Stories of whoppers that got away. Frank Pollard "a beast"? Abercrombie? Pollard was an endearing tough plucky guy, but he was a classic ham and egger. For those who never saw the 80's Steelers, think Fred McAfee. Maybe a bit better. Abercrombie was a bum. Soft as Charmin.

Where is Mendenhall? I hate him for his fumble in the SB, but he is already better than Walter Abercrombie on his best day. Same goes for Dwyer for that matter (just based on talent). And Redman? (Actually, Pollard is a tougher, less-talented Isaac Redman).

Chadman
12-05-2012, 06:18 AM
what's your Top-10?

Well, suppose it's only fair to give this a go too, right? More often it's easier to pick something apart than put it together... Ok, let's see...

10. John L. Williams- at his best, such a versatile player. Unfortunate the Steelers only had him for such a short time.

9. Frank Pollard- hard to not include him, despite him being.... tradesman like... more than special.

8. Barry Foster- weird.... hadn't thought he'd be this 'low' (if you consider 8th best since 1980, low..) but there you have I. Very tough, very strong. Had the ability to be one of the most dominant runners of his time, perhaps never really achieved that. Was one of the very first Steelers Chadman got to know as a non-American follower.

7. Rocky Bleier- almost the same write-up as for Foster except for one detail, while Foster may not have tapped all of his talent, Rocky made the most of everything he had.

6. Rashard Mendenhall- somewhat unfairly criticised around here, he's been quietly achieving whenever injury has allowed. A player that can change a game when he's 'on'.

5. Dan Krieder- possibly the best blocking fullback Chadman has seen- certainly the best in Pittsburgh that Chadman has seen. If you judge simply on performance on the field, not stats, then Kreider was one of the most dominant players in his field.

4. Willie Parker- quite simply, a dominant, consistent dangerman for many years. Came up big on many occasions. Will be forever known for his speed, but his ability to make yards when none were on offer was his greatest skill. Remarkable career.

3. Merril Hoge- seems almost unfair that a guy that was such a diverse weapon for such a long time isn't higher than 3rd. He was John L. Williams, only earlier and for longer. Great player.

2. Franco Harris- how do you split Franco and The Bus? Chadman will just go with the fact that Franco had a great QB alongside him, while it was only at the end that The Bus got stellar QB play to take the full load off his shoulders. Great, great player.

1. Jerome Bettis- greatest acquisition the Steelers have made from another team. Dominant. Carried the Steelers offence on his own a lot of the time, and was still dominant even though the opposition knew that the Steelers started nd stopped itch The Bus. Such a great personality, great team player. Great footballer.


Bam Morris was considered, but it's got to be remembered that he had a good sidekick in Erric Pegram that helped him keep defences off balance.

flippy
12-05-2012, 12:08 PM
If we're really talking peak and not longevity, my list is a little different:

1. Barry Foster - We ran him close to 400 times in a season. That's ridiculous. It's kinda dumb. And probably the reason his career didn't last. The man was a beast. We've never seen anything like him in Pittsburgh. Didn't he have 2000+ yards that one year - running and receiving?

2. Willie Parker - Never got the respect he deserved. And never got used as effectively as he should. We were dead set trying to make him run like Bettis. Seriously? Another sad case of overworking a back. And in this case, pounding a small guy into oblivion. But give him the tiniest of crease and no one was ever as electrifying. He had 16 TDs the year before Tomlin ran the wheels off.

3. Rashard Mendenhall - He's the compete package, but something's not right about him. Possibly the most well rounded back we've ever seen in Pittsburgh. But he just can't get it together. Not sure if it's a mental issue? He's soft? or both? He's got the physical gifts where he should easily be #1 on the list. But he might not even be on the team nor even remembered.

4. Bettis - He was unique. Big dude. Quick feet. Once in a lifetime combination. One of the most enjoyable back we've ever seen.

5. Franco - He was the whole package. Who wouldn't put him #1 in Steelers history. In a lot of ways he represented the dynasty. He defined in everyone's mind, running the football and playing great D wins championships in his era. But I have to remember we're only thinking about peak seasons.

6-10. Rocky, Bam, Duce, JD, Pegram


And one of my favorites that I wish I could have made my list is Fu.

RuthlessBurgher
12-05-2012, 02:25 PM
Foster, Parker, and Mendenhall ahead of Bettis and Franco.

That clinches it...flippy forgot to take his meds again.

flippy
12-05-2012, 04:28 PM
Foster, Parker, and Mendenhall ahead of Bettis and Franco.

That clinches it...flippy forgot to take his meds again.


I took em today :smile:

Everyone else is answering this like who belongs in the HOF? Sure it's Franco and Bettis. But that wasn't the question. It was a question of peak capability.

Foster had the best season of any Steeler RB. He had the clear #1 season.

Parker overcame more than just about everyone. He played at the beginning of the mediocre line play era. 2006 was a good year for him. He made chicken salad out of chicken sh!t. I think he might be one of the most under appreciated Steelers of all time.

Mendy had as good a season as any that Franco ever had and he's done it with a subpar OLine. Bettis had a better season when he first came to us from the Rams, but he had one of the best OLines in Steeler history to run behind. I love watch Bettis the battering ram. But reality is his career YPA is <4. With a great line. So I gave Mendy the edge over Franco because he still has some upside to his game. I know everyone's down on Mendy now, but he's talented.

Bettis and Franco had longevity. Franco didn't get overused. Bettis had an amazing ability to recover from pain. But longevity wasn't the key factor here.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 05:18 PM
Lots of fisherman here I see... Stories of whoppers that got away. Frank Pollard "a beast"? Abercrombie? Pollard was an endearing tough plucky guy, but he was a classic ham and egger. For those who never saw the 80's Steelers, think Fred McAfee. Maybe a bit better. Abercrombie was a bum. Soft as Charmin.

Where is Mendenhall? I hate him for his fumble in the SB, but he is already better than Walter Abercrombie on his best day. Same goes for Dwyer for that matter (just based on talent). And Redman? (Actually, Pollard is a tougher, less-talented Isaac Redman).

Less talented Redman? No way. Pollard was on horrid teams with zero passing threats. Who were the QBs then? Malone? Abercrombie was basically a Willie Parker - wasn't going to run anyone over but did have jets.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 05:23 PM
If we're really talking peak and not longevity, my list is a little different:

1. Barry Foster - We ran him close to 400 times in a season. That's ridiculous. It's kinda dumb. And probably the reason his career didn't last. The man was a beast. We've never seen anything like him in Pittsburgh. Didn't he have 2000+ yards that one year - running and receiving?

2. Willie Parker - Never got the respect he deserved. And never got used as effectively as he should. We were dead set trying to make him run like Bettis. Seriously? Another sad case of overworking a back. And in this case, pounding a small guy into oblivion. But give him the tiniest of crease and no one was ever as electrifying. He had 16 TDs the year before Tomlin ran the wheels off.

3. Rashard Mendenhall - He's the compete package, but something's not right about him. Possibly the most well rounded back we've ever seen in Pittsburgh. But he just can't get it together. Not sure if it's a mental issue? He's soft? or both? He's got the physical gifts where he should easily be #1 on the list. But he might not even be on the team nor even remembered.

4. Bettis - He was unique. Big dude. Quick feet. Once in a lifetime combination. One of the most enjoyable back we've ever seen.

5. Franco - He was the whole package. Who wouldn't put him #1 in Steelers history. In a lot of ways he represented the dynasty. He defined in everyone's mind, running the football and playing great D wins championships in his era. But I have to remember we're only thinking about peak seasons.

6-10. Rocky, Bam, Duce, JD, Pegram


And one of my favorites that I wish I could have made my list is Fu.

If you notice, the constant with backs who are over-ran is Cowher. He only had a hammer in his coach's brain and running backs all looked like nails.

papillon
12-05-2012, 05:50 PM
Foster, Parker, and Mendenhall ahead of Bettis and Franco.

That clinches it...flippy forgot to take his meds again.

Clearly, just trying to start conversation on the board. No one, not even flippy believes that. :confused: :p

Pappy

DukieBoy
12-05-2012, 07:32 PM
JHJ was a beast, at one time ranked 4th on the NFL's all-time rushing list, behind Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, and his 49er teammate Joe Perry, with whom he shared carries in the million-dollar backfield that included Hugh McElhenny too. JHJ is a Hall-of-Famer. In one of those great Saturday night absolute brawls they used to play in the old Cleveland Mausoleum, Oct 10, 1964, 35-year-old JHJ outgained Jim Brown 200 yards to 59 yards. I remember seeing those games on TV. JHJ was a Steeler from 1960 to 65. Maybe a bit old for some on the board. He would be in the top few on my list.

Sugar
12-05-2012, 07:41 PM
Clearly, just trying to start conversation on the board. No one, not even flippy believes that. :confused: :p

Pappy

I see where he's coming from. It makes sense from that perspective.

hawaiiansteel
12-05-2012, 07:47 PM
JHJ was a beast, at one time ranked 4th on the NFL's all-time rushing list, behind Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, and his 49er teammate Joe Perry, with whom he shared carries in the million-dollar backfield that included Hugh McElhenny too. JHJ is a Hall-of-Famer. In one of those great Saturday night absolute brawls they used to play in the old Cleveland Mausoleum, Oct 10, 1964, 35-year-old JHJ outgained Jim Brown 200 yards to 59 yards. I remember seeing those games on TV. JHJ was a Steeler from 1960 to 65. Maybe a bit old for some on the board. He would be in the top few on my list.


I would have included both John Henry johnson and Dick Hoak in my list but the OP's premise was that no RB who played before the 70s should be included so I left them out.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 08:14 PM
I would have included both John Henry johnson and Dick Hoak in my list but the OP's premise was that no RB who played before the 70s should be included so I left them out.

I did so for three reasons:

1.) I just don't care about sports that came at a time before I was even born.

2.) The game was so different with the sport before the 1970s.

3.) I can't have opinions on players that I have never even seen highlights from, not to mention, not having ever seen them play. I just can't form an opinion on players I have never seen.

ikestops85
12-06-2012, 01:57 PM
and how is Frenchy Fuqua not on anybody's list? ;)

flippy
12-06-2012, 02:02 PM
and how is Frenchy Fuqua not on anybody's list? ;)

I was saving him for the 10 Steelers Who May Have Also Been Pimps.

hawaiiansteel
12-06-2012, 06:32 PM
I was saving him for the 10 Steelers Who May Have Also Been Pimps.

he would have to be #1 on that list...:D

http://media.scout.com/Media/Image/37/377652.jpg

RuthlessBurgher
12-06-2012, 08:17 PM
If only they made cleats for shoes with goldfish swimming in the heels...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_f3fTVkavMVg/SNjxG70lbnI/AAAAAAAAALc/3CSs7-15DsI/S220/expimpshoesblack.gif

RuthlessBurgher
12-06-2012, 08:20 PM
I was saving him for the 10 Steelers Who May Have Also Been Pimps.

1. Richard Seigler.
2. Richard Seigler.
3. Richard Seigler.
4. Richard Seigler.
5. Richard Seigler.
6. Richard Seigler.
7. Richard Seigler.
8. Richard Seigler.
9. Frenchy Fuqua.
10. Richard Seigler.

http://www.wpxi.com/news/sports/former-steeler-arrested-for-alleged-prostitition-r/nGnSX/