Earlier this month The Athletic ranked Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson just inside the Top 100 on its new list of the best 100 players in NFL history. In the past week, the online publication added two more Steelers Hall of Famers to the list, with cornerback Mel Blount at No. 71 and quarterback Terry Bradshaw at No. 69.
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CB Mel Blount (1970-83)
Mel Blount was drafted by the Steelers in the third-round of the 1970 Draft, having been scouted at Southern University by Bill Nunn, the longtime Steelers scout/front office executive who was formally enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.
By 1978, Blount had proved so impactful that the league added a rule (Rule 8, Section 4, colloquially referred to as ‘The Mel Blount rule’) to make it easier to pass the football.
“Until 1978, [defensive backs] could make contact with receivers until the ball was in the air,” notes The Athletic. Since then, DB’s have only been permitted to bump receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage, and only while receivers are in front of them.
After that, Blount—who was listed at 6-foot-3 during his playing days—never quite duplicated the success he experienced in 1975, when he intercepted 11 passes and was named Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But he made the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979 and was named first-team All-Pro in 1981, proving that even a significant rule change couldn’t stop him from functioning as a shutdown corner.
He went on to intercept 57 passes in just 200 career games, and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1989.
QB Terry Bradshaw (1970-83)
Notably, the third Steelers player on The Athletic’s list came to Pittsburgh in the same draft as Blount, and his career came to a close after the same 1983 season.
Bradshaw, who was selected No. 1 overall in 1970 out of Louisiana Tech, experienced a painfully slow start to his career, throwing just six touchdown passes against 24 interceptions as a rookie. But he started to turn the corner in 1972 and went on to finish his career with 212 touchdown passes against 210 INTs.
Most importantly, he is now remembered as being a great big-game quarterback, evinced by his 14-5 postseason record, including a perfect 4-0 mark in the Super Bowl. He was also named league MVP in 1978 and won two Super Bowl MVP awards. Never mind that NFL Films once named his 64-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Swann in Super Bowl X as the “greatest throw of all-time.”
Like Blount, Bradshaw was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1989.
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