Top 5 greatest Steelers rookie seasons of modern era
The Steelers drafted a player in 1969 who would become an iconic figure
‘Mean’ Joe Green, the player the Steelers drafted in the first round of the 1969 draft would become a ‘larger than life’ figure in the Steel City. Remember what I stated earlier in the discussion about the reason why I labeled the modern era as the Super Bowl era?
Because ‘Mean’ Joe was drafted the year prior to the official merger between the AFL and the NFL, he technically would not have made this list had I elected to follow the letter of the law, so to speak, but, honestly, how could I, in good conscience, leave ‘Mean’ Joe off this list?
In his rookie season, ‘Mean’ Joe not only made the first of 8 consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl but was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. ‘Mean’ Joe would make a total of 10 trips to the Pro Bowl, would be named All-Pro 4 times, would be named Defensive Player of the Year 3 times, including the Defensive Rookie of the Year and won the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1979.
It goes without saying that ‘Mean’ Joe was the linchpin of the famed ‘Steel Curtain’ defense that propelled the Steelers to 4 Super Bowl victories in the 1970s. We won back-to-back Super Bowls twice. In 1987, ‘Mean’ Joe’s career was capped off with enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If you’re a Steelers fan, you know that we do not typically retire numbers, but we retired ‘Mean’ Joe’s number. He is one of two players who have had his number officially retired. I would offer that ‘Mean’ Joe laid the foundation for the defense, but it was not until we drafted the player who comes in at number one of this list that the Steelers starting winning Super Bowls.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at that player.