Bill Neal: Steelers’ Hall of Honor Class of 2023 announced; and it’s game time, Aug. 11!

:10—First of all, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my loyal readers and followers of Overtime for your ongoing support. Most especially, the tremendous love and appreciation given to me over the past several weeks regarding the Sam Clancy and Hosea Champine articles. Without question, the only thing greater than being a sportswriter for the historic Pittsburgh Courier is to be able to have the privilege to write about the great sports legends of Pittsburgh! HOO-RAH!!!

:09—I’ll preface the next by telling you that I met James Harrison in 2008 at Jerome Bettis’ restaurant with my cousin Dennis Briggs. As we approached him, it was clear that he was doing some serious eating. I then said to Briggs, “Look, the man is so mean that he even eats mad!” That being said, it was all good, no problem, and the brother was easy to talk to, considering we walked up on him unannounced.

:08—Speaking of “Deebo,” did you hear that at age 45 the former Steeler all-pro just bench pressed 520 pounds…just because he could! For my money, or better put, for the Steelers’ money, I would line him up on the other side of T.J. Watt and be no less for the damage. And trust me, I ain’t mad at ya, Alex Highsmith! To the man who owns a number of Steeler records including most team sacks (80.5), and the greatest play in Super Bowl history, we say congratulations and welcome to the Steeler Hall of Honor, Mr. Harrison!

:07—Also joining this year’s class is Aaron Smith. The 6’5”, 299-pound 4th-round defensive end played 13 years with the Steelers and won a Super Bowl with them in 2005 and 2008. Drafted out of Northern Colorado in 1999, the highly underrated Smith became the perfect DE for the Steelers and even had a stretch that he played every game from 2000 to 2006, as I’ve told you on many occasions.

:06—You young folk missed the greatest football there ever was or ever will be! And with that you missed the dominant Pittsburgh Steelers team of the decade…the ‘70s! That featured the great Gerry “Moon” Mullins. The 6’3”, 250-pound body of steel came out of USC and was a 4th-round pick by the Steelers in 1971 and, of course, has four Super Bowl rings to show for it. Along with Sam Davis, Mike Webster, Larry Brown and Jon Kolb.

:05—Last but not least in this year’s Ring of Honor is Ray Mansfield, aka “The Old Ranger.” He was one of only five players Chuck Noll kept on the team when he took over in 1969. He played from 1963 to 1976 and won two Super Bowls after transitioning from D-line to center.

:04—About that Chuck “The Emperor” Noll story. Noll was named the 14th head coach of the Steelers at age 37 in 1969. Of the 50-plus players who were in camp in 1969, Noll made two things clear. #1. We are going to win Super Bowls; and #2. Most of you will not be here to enjoy it, because you’re not good enough. He kept 5 out of 50. The rest is history.

:03—The Steeler Hall of Honor began in 2017. Here’s what it stands for. “The Hall of Honor will serve as a tribute to the many individuals who have contributed greatly throughout the history of our franchise,” said Steelers’ President Art Rooney II. The Hall now includes 53 members. Google it for more info.

:02—The Hall of Honor Class of 2023 will be inducted at a ceremony Saturday, October 28 at Acrisure Stadium. And honored the next day at halftime when they play the Jacksonville Jaguars.

:01—While I got ya, your Pittsburgh Steelers’ first preseason game is August 11 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they open at home against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, September 10. Now shake out the shirts, string up the Terrible Towels, and let’s go get #7!!!



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