I think I might have to further explain this question. Of the Steelers that have retired recently or even the current players, who would be worthy of a Press Conference and all of the tears that we saw the other day when Peyton Manning and the Indy Colts parted ways?
When I say recent, go back all the way to the 70’s if you like. I went back and looked at some High Profile Pittsburgh Steelers, and could not come up with a guy that defined a city as much as Peyton Manning.
And, that is saying something if you think about all the players in the Hall Of Fame and some future Hall Inductees.
You could name Terry Bradshaw or Franco Harris, but neither player could have become the player they were without the support of not only their teammates around them, but each other.
When you think of the Player that started everything, Joe Green, one of the most famous pictures of him was one with him and the other three lineman together.
Franco Harris had the immaculate reception and although that was a huge moment in Franchise history, it does not really separate him from the team aspect.
I am leaving out a bunch of great players, but even the Lynn Swann’s of the world and John Stallworth do not stand up against what Manning has meant to that Franchise.
We can move into the 90’s and touch on Rod Woodson. One of the greatest players to every play in the defensive backfield, but still not a guy in the same category as Manning.
We can even skip to today’s team with Hines Ward, yes he has been cut, but he was a fan favorite. Hines owns all the receiving records in Pittsburgh, which says a lot. He has played in 3 Championships, and was an MVP in one of them. The Steelers won 2 of those Championship games.
Still, just not the guy to warrant that type of send off that Manning got. Though, in his defense, when he finally does retire, he will sign a 1-day contract and retire a Steeler and will probably cry. But it is not the same.
Look ahead, some say the Big Ben could be a Hall Of Famer, but he certainly will not get that kind of send off especially with all of the issues that have followed him. Besides, as good as he is, the team has played a big part in his success. And I guess that is what I am getting too.
In Indianapolis, Peyton Manning had good players around him, but he built that Franchise in Indy. His name, presence, and success helped build Lucas Oil Stadium and even bring a Super Bowl to town. Not to mention that he won a Championship himself.
What he has meant to that Franchise cannot be matched in the History of the NFL. Yes, maybe some stories are as good, but none are better.
Other sports have players that have transcended their team like Peyton Manning has, but in the NFL His life and Story in Football are unequaled.
That is because he was clearly the best player on his team at any point in his career and the unmistakable leader. We saw what the Colts did this past year without him.
That is what separates him from anyone that has played for this Steelers Franchise. The Rooney’s have built great teams with really good players on both sides of the ball. The Steelers have not won with what one might call, a one trick pony like what the Colts had.
Maybe that is why Manning is so important to that Franchise, and they have 1 Championship in Indianapolis with him.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have by contrast, 6 Championships and have gone to 8. I think that says it all.