The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are currently a member of the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League.
Founded in 1933, Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles (6), won more AFC Championship Games (7) and hosted more conference championship games (10) than any other AFC or NFC team. They have played in more AFC conference championship games than any other team and are tied with the Dallas Cowboys with 14 championship game appearances in either the NFC or AFC contests. The Steelers are the current National Football League champions, having won Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.
The fifth-oldest franchise in the NFL, the Steelers were founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 8, 1933, by Art Rooney. The ownership of the Steelers has remained within the Rooney family since its founding. The current owner is Art’s son, Dan Rooney, who has given much control of the franchise to his son Art Rooney II.
The team enjoys a fanbase nicknamed Steeler Nation and currently play their home games in Heinz Field on Pittsburgh’s North Side, which also hosts the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. Built in 2001, the stadium replaced Three Rivers Stadium which hosted the Steelers for 31 seasons. Prior to Three Rivers, the Steelers had played their games in Pitt Stadium and Forbes Field.
The Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL first took to the field as the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 20, 1933, losing 23-2 to the New York Giants. Through the 1930s, the Pirates never finished higher than second place in their division, or with a record better than 0.500 (1936). Pittsburgh did make history in 1938 by signing Byron White, a future justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to what was at the time the biggest contract in NFL history, but he played only one year with the Pirates before signing with the Detroit Lions. Prior to the 1940 season, the Pirates renamed themselves the Steelers.
During World War II, the Steelers experienced player shortages. They twice merged with other NFL franchises to field a team. During the 1943 season, they merged with the Philadelphia Eagles forming the “Phil-Pitt Eagles” and were known as the “Steagles.” This team went 5–4–1. In 1944, they merged with the Chicago Cardinals and were known as Card-Pitt (or, mockingly, as the “Carpets”). This team finished 0–10, marking the only winless team in franchise history.
The Steelers made the playoffs for the first time in 1947, tying for first place in the division at 8–4 with the Philadelphia Eagles. This forced a tie-breaking playoff game at Forbes Field, which the Steelers lost 21–0. That would be Pittsburgh’s only playoff game for 25 years, though the Steelers did qualify for a “Playoff Bowl” in 1963 as the second best team in their conference, though not considered an official playoff.
In 1970, with the assimilation of the American Football League into the National Football League, the Pittsburgh Steelers were one of three old-guard NFL teams to switch to the newly-formed American Conference (the others being the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts). This restructuring was necessary to equalize the number of teams in each of the two conferences following the AFL-NFL merger.
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