Former Steelers’ linebacker Dennis “Dirt” Winston will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame tonight as a member of the Class of 2014, an honor he said means a great deal to him.
“It’s special because now I am a representative of the whole state,” said Winston. “They are recognizing my accolades and everything I have done over the years.”
Winston, who is from Arkansas and played for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1973-76, was the Steelers fifth-round draft pick in 1977. He played 11 seasons in the NFL, with the Steelers from 1977-81, before joining the New Orleans Saints in 1982. He rejoined the Steelers in 1985-86.
Winston, who was a part of two Super Bowl teams, started for the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV in place of an injured Jack Ham.
“That meant a lot to me,” said Winston. “I was honored in Arkansas as the Professional Athlete of the Year when we won Super Bowl XIII. Playing in Super Bowl XIV was even a bigger honor because I started. I represented the state, the University, the people in the communities in Arkansas.
“It was great playing for the Steelers because I was wondering why they drafted me because they had all of these All Pro guys there and to go there and make the team was great.”
Winston embarked on a coaching career in 1992, serving as the defensive coordinator under Eddie Robinson at Grambling State University for five years. He returned to Arkansas in 1997 as linebackers coach, and then went on as an assistant at Arkansas State and the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. He was the interim head coach at Grambling State in 2013.
“It’s been enjoyable because I have had the opportunity to see young men I have recruited have their opportunity to go into the pros and establish themselves,” said Winston. “They have had their careers and now they are productive citizens.”