10. Mike Merriweather – A very good linebacker during a bad stretch for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Merriweather makes the list at number 10. The three time Pro Bowler had 15 sacks in 1984, and was voted 1st team All-Pro that year. Pittsburgh would kill for a player like that this season!
9. James Farrior – The former first round draft pick of the New York Jets came into his own after joining the Steelers. Farrior led Pittsburgh in tackles several times over his career, and was runner up to Ed Reed for defensive player of the year in 2004. He was the quintessential 3-4 inside linebacker, and a key piece of two Super Bowl championships.
8. Jason Gildon – Often overlooked by other Pittsburgh linebackers, Gildon was a very good linebacker in his own right. Gildon is a 3 time Pro-Bowler, and surprisingly the all time leader in sacks for Pittsburgh.
7. Joey Porter – One of the biggest characters in Steelers history hands down. Despite several off the field issues, Joey Porter managed to have a great career in the NFL. Porter was a 4 time All-Pro, and is 3rd all time in sacks in Steeler history. More importantly, Porter was a huge factor in the Steelers victory in Super Bowl XL
6. Levon Kirkland – One of my favorite Steeler players of all time. Levon Kirkland played inside linebacker at nearly 300 pounds, and was a dominant force for the mid 90’s Steelers. Kirkland was a two time Pro Bowler and is a member of the NFL all decade team for the 90’s. Where Kirkland shined the most was during Super Bowl XXX. Despite losing to the Cowboys 27-17, Levon had a terrific game. He had 10 tackles and a sack, while holding Hall of Fame running back Emmit Smith to 56 yards rushing.
5. Greg Lloyd – Possibly the most intimidating player ever to wear a Steeler uniform. Greg Lloyd was everything a Steeler fan could hope for in a linebacker. He finished his career with 5 Pro-Bowls and 3 All-Pro seasons. Lloyd also was voted AFC defensive player of the year in 1994.
4. Kevin Greene – Without question the best pure pass rusher in Steeler history. Kevin Greene was the first free agent ever signed by Pittsburgh, and maybe their best one. His list of accomplishments is impressive and includes 5 Pro-Bowls, 3 first team All-Pros, 1996 defensive player of the year, and third all time in sacks in NFL history. In 2016 Greene was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
3. Jack Ham – Not as flashy or famous as other Steel Curtain members like Mean Joe Green or Jack Lambert, Ham was every bit as important. He was an 8 time Pro-Bowler and 6 time first team All-Pro. Jack Ham was a turnover machine, and leads all non defensive backs in takeaways with 53 all time.
2. James Harrison – In his prime, Harrison was one of the best all around linebackers in Steelers history. In 2008, Harrison had 101 tackles and 16 sacks on his way to being voted defensive player of the year. That season culminated with one of the best plays in Super Bowl history in which Harrison returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown. That’s a Super Bowl record that still stands today. Harrison was a 5 time Pro-Bowler and is second in sacks all time for Pittsburgh.
1. Jack Lambert – Forget just Steelers history, Jack Lambert is one of the best NFL linebackers of all time. Lambert’s toothless scowl exemplifies what Steeler football is all about. It started in 1974 where Lambert won defensive rookie of the year, and ended with 4 Super Bowl championships. Along the way, Lambert was voted All-Pro in 9 straight seasons, and was defensive player of the year in 1976. He is a member of the all decade team in both the 70’s and the 80’s. It’s an impressive list to be a part of, even more so to be the best of this list.