It’s inevitable. A week from Sunday, either Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell is going to be a Super Bowl champion. Never mind that neither has played an especially significant role in his team’s success. In fact, both former Pittsburgh Steelers stars were inactive for the NFC and AFC Championship games.
But if Tom Brady, Brown and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) beat Bell & the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2), a slew of former Steelers players and coaches are going to get a Super Bowl ring. For many, a third Super Bowl ring.
It’s Been Nine Years Since Bruce Arians ‘Retired’
At the top of the list is Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who won two Super Bowls (XLIII, XL) with the Steelers, the former as offensive coordinator and the latter as the team’s wide receiver’s coach. In January 2012, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bruce Arians had decided to retire from coaching, but as it turns out, the Steelers elected not to renew his contract. Arians would later say he ‘was pissed’ when the Steelers ‘fired’ him.
Then there’s former Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich, who is in his second year as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator. A first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003 (No. 7 overall), Leftwich spent the last three seasons of his nine-year playing career serving as backup to Ben Roethlisberger.
Also on the offensive side of the ball is former Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who played in Pittsburgh between 2002-05, and in 2010. He’s best remembered for the 43-yard touchdown pass he threw to Hines Ward in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XL, the icing on the cake of a 21-10 win.
Meanwhile, on defense the Bucs have former Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote serving as outside linebackers coach. Foote came to the Steelers in the same draft class that produced Randle El (2002) and won two Super Bowl championships during his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh.
Last but not least, longtime NFL coach Tom Moore, 82, is serving as a Bucs “assistant coach” (offense). Moore has three Super Bowl rings with the Steelers, as he worked as Pittsburgh’s wide receivers coach between 1977 and 1982 before getting promoted to offensive coordinator in 1983. Along the way he worked with a number of Hall of Fame Steelers, including Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
It remains to be seen whether Antonio Brown will be able to play in this year’s Super Bowl, though the initial outlook seems promising. Brown was a fledgling rookie wide receiver/kick returner when the Steelers went to the Super Bowl in 2010 and he had little impact on the game. Targeted three times he caught one pass for one yard in Pittsburgh’s 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
This season he played in eight regular season games with the Buccaneers, catching 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns. In Tampa Bay’s first two postseason games he caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
It’s also worth noting that former Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell and former Steelers defensive lineman Steve McLendon are both second-stringers for the Buccaneers. Center A.Q. Shipley, who Pittsburgh selected in the seventh-round of the 2009 NFL Draft (Penn State), is on injured reserve.
The Kansas City Chiefs Have Fewer Pittsburgh Connections
As for Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl opposition … the Chiefs have the aforementioned Le’Veon Bell, who was Pittsburgh’s feature back between 2013 and 2017. Bell signed with the Chiefs as a free agent in October after the New York Jets were unable to engineer a trade and released him.
Whether he plays in the Super Bowl or not, Bell has been a minor contributor since joining the Chiefs, getting just two carries for six yards in Kansas City’s playoff win over the Cleveland Browns.
But Kansas City’s roster also includes former Steelers offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski, not to mention punter Dustin Colquitt, the latter of whom is on the practice squad. Both played for the Steelers in 2020.
Wisniewski re-signed with the Chiefs in late November after the Steelers released him earlier in the month. Colquitt was released in October after punting for the Steelers in the first five games of the 2020 season.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Former Steelers Wide Receiver Signed by CFL’s Toronto Argonauts
• Former Steelers QB Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges Finds New NFL Home
• Ex-Steelers Wide Receiver Ryan Switzer Will Get Another Chance to Become ‘Like Edelman’