Pittsburgh Steelers: 30 greatest players in franchise history

Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport /
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Rod Woodson, Pittsburgh Steelers
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

(1987-96). Rod Woodson. 5. player. 55. . CB

Rod Woodson was the original Troy Polamalu. A playmaking safety who was involved in every play could cover any player on the field and always found a way to direct the game in his team’s direction.

There’s a difference between the two, though. Polamalu did things no one believed were possible. All of which was just explained. But Woodson found a way to hit players so hard they hurt but could drop back in coverage and turn any pass into an interception.

Leading the league in interceptions twice, Woodson turned his time in Pittsburgh into an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, five first-team All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowls. Ending his career in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Woodson remains a Steeler, even after time spent with three other teams.

What Woodson could do on a field was unbelievable. For a hard-hitting safety, no one thought he’d contain the coverage skills he did. He still ranks third all-time in interceptions with 71.

He was exactly what Pittsburgh needed to round out the Steel Curtain. As much as the linebackers and defensive linemen are talked about during this time, Woodson’s impact was just as important. Maybe even more.