Andy Russell is overlooked in Steelers lore because of the position he played
Andy Russell might be the best example of the transition period in a career of the Steelers franchise from bottom feeder to the highest mountain top. He would be taken by Pittsburgh in the 16th round of the 1963 NFL Draft as a linebacker out of Missouri. He would go on to play for the black and gold for his rookie year before taking a sabbatical.
The army was calling and that forced Russell into service and to depart from the franchise for some time. He was in the service for about three years before he decided to return to the NFL and play for Pittsburgh again. During his time away, the black and gold continued to be the laughingstock of the league and the hope of turning that around was still there.
Eventually, Russell helped bring the defense together as the veteran and the winning started to compile during the 70s. He was a leader on those early clubs that had young players still learning the ropes of the NFL. It took a couple of years but eventually, the newly build Steelers started winning a lot.
He helped the club win two Super Bowls before he retired after the 1976 season sitting atop the mountain as a two-time champion. Young players like Jack Hamm and Jack Lambert were becoming special players and Russell left the team and continues to be overlooked to this day. There have been many great players at his position, but not many were better than him.