Which Steelers jerseys should be permanently retired?
#50 Ryan Shazier
Shazier had exceptional talent as a linebacker. Had he played until he retired, it’s hard to say where he would have ranked among all the great linebackers to play for the Steelers. Certainly, his name would fall high on the list. Unfortunately, his career was cut short to a spinal injury.
The Steelers have not used his jersey since 2017. As a tribute to Shazier, it seems unlikely they will issue anyone his jersey for the foreseeable future. He was a high-impact player whose career was cut way too short. Faithful fans loved Shazier as well. It seems unlikely anyone would argue against it
#86 Hines Ward
The Steelers have had three outstanding wide receivers in their team’s history. John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, and Hines Ward. While Swann and Stallworth are both in the Hall of Fame, the Steelers chose not to retire their numbers. Though on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, he has missed out every year. However, the Steelers have not used his Jersey since 2011. So, in this case, it might make sense, retire number 86. He certainly earned having his number retired; no one can deny his on-field talent as a receiver and a blocker. So if no one votes him into the Hall of Fame, then honor him by retiring his jersey. It’s a fair compromise.
Since the ‘70s the Steelers have had so much talent it’s hard to retire everyone’s jersey. Plus, you have to expect there will be great players in the future. So Pittsburgh has retired number 70 for Ernie Stautner and 75 for Joe Greene. Retiring Bradshaw’s makes sense but could be contentious over those who would prefer Roethlisberger when he retires.
So in addition to the two that are retired, they should also retire number 32 for Franco Harris, number 52 for Mike Webster, 58 for Jack Lambert, 86 for Hines Ward, and 43 for Troy Polamalu. That would give the Steelers seven retired jerseys. Not the most in the league, then free up the others not being used currently. However, Pittsburgh still has room for some of the additional players to come when they retire, such as Maurkice Pouncey, TJ Watt, and Cam Heyward, or of course Ben Roethlisberger.