Early Saturday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers added four former players to the organization’s Hall of Honor. The Class of 2021 is made up of: wide receiver Louis Lipps, offensive tackle Jon Kolb, safety/cornerback Carnell Lake and offensive tackle Tunch Ilkin.
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WR Louis Lipps (1984-91)
Louis Lipps came to the Steelers in the first round of the 1984 NFL Draft, selected No. 23 overall out of Southern Miss. He made an impact right away, winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in ’84. He also earned Pro Bowl honors during his first two seasons in the league, making his mark as both a wide receiver and kick returner.
Over the course of eight seasons in Pittsburgh, Lipps played in 108 games (98 starts) and caught 359 passes for 6,019 yards with 39 touchdown receptions. He also found success as a punt returner, particularly in the first two years of his career. All told he returned 107 punts for the Steelers, scoring three touchdowns and averaging 11.3 yards per return. He was Team MVP in both 1985 and 1989 and led the Steelers in receiving yards in six different seasons.
OT Jon Kolb (1969-81)
Jon Kolb was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 1969 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State. Kolb—who was 6-foot-2 and 262 pounds—never made the Pro Bowl, but he was a rock at left tackle for a decade, starting 138 of the 177 games he played during his career, all of which was spent with the Steelers. During his playing days he was commonly regarded as “the strongest man in the NFL.” In fact, he competed in the annual World’s Strongest Man competition several times during the latter part of his playing career.
S/CB Carnell Lake (1989-98)
Carnell Lake was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft, selected No. 34 overall out of UCLA. He started 154 games for the Steelers over 10 seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl in four of those years, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 1997. All told, he was in on 734 total tackles (281 solo) during his Steelers career, with 16 interceptions and 21.5 sacks.
In 2011, he joined Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff as the team’s secondary coach, a position he held for seven seasons.
OT Tunch Ilkin (1980-92)
Last but not least, the Hall of Honor Class of 2021 includes offensive tackle Tunch Ilkin, a sixth-round pick in 1980 out of Indiana State. Ilkin appeared in 176 games for the Steelers over 13 seasons, during which time he made 143 starts and twice earned Pro Bowl honors (1988-89).
He moved into the Steelers’ radio booth in 1998, where he spent the next 23 years as a color commentator.
In mid-October of last year he announced that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In the wake of that awful news, there has been an outpouring of support from Pittsburgh fans, media, and the Steelers family. On June 3, 2021, Ilkin announced his retirement from broadcasting to dedicate himself to his treatment regimen.
About the Steelers Hall of Honor
The Steelers introduced the Hall of Honor in 2017 to recognize former members of the organization who have played an integral role in the success of the team. To be considered, a player must be retired at least three years and have played a minimum of three seasons for the Steelers. Former coaches and front office personnel are also eligible.
The Class of 2021 will be honored in November during one of the team’s home games. The Class of 2020—which features soon-to-be-inducted Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu—is expected to be honored at the same time. Polamalu has already indicated that he plans to return to Heinz Field for this year’s Hall of Honor ceremony.
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