The Steelers selected the NFL version of a strongman in the 1981 draft
When the Steelers drafted Rick Donnalley in the third round of the 1981 NFL draft and assigned him number fifty-five, I was horrified. I could not believe we would give a rookie the same number that Jon Kolb wore during his stellar career, but years later, I realized that if the Steelers retired the numbers of the great players, there would not be enough numbers to go around.
Donnalley played pretty well, albeit his stint with us only lasted for two seasons, three if you count the season he did not play because of injury. I was further horrified when we traded Donnalley to the then-named Washington Redskins for a sixth-round pick.
What were we thinking? I really thought that Donnalley would succeed Mike Webster as our center after Webster decided to hang up the cleats, but it was not meant to be. If you watched Donnalley during his career, you no doubt noticed how big his arms were and how ‘stocky’ he was.
I was surprised to learn that in 1982, during the ‘Strongest Man in Pro Football’ competition, Donnalley placed first by lifting a total of forty-two thousand pounds. The lifts consisted of the overhead press with a starting weight of 300 pounds, the squat with a starting weight of 700 pounds, the bench press with a starting weight of 400 pounds, and the deadlift with a starting weight of 600 pounds. Pretty impressive I must say.
Let’s see who comes in at number six on our list.