It has been called the Pittsburgh Steelers’ legacy of linebackers, and it’s born of the fact that the team has had at least one of its linebackers voted to 45 of the 63 Pro Bowls in NFL history.
John Reger was one of the first of those linebackers, and he was selected three times. Reger, 82, died on Thursday, Sept. 19, in Tampa.
Undrafted out of the University of Pittsburgh in 1955, Reger signed as a free agent with the hometown Steelers. He played guard and linebacker, but it wasn’t too long into his professional career before he became known more for his skills on defense.
Born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia, and a graduate of Linsley Military Institute, Reger played in 104 games with the Steelers from 1955-63, which was one of the most successful of the franchise’s early eras.
During those nine seasons, the Steelers posted winning records four times and finished at .500 once. And even those Steelers teams never played in the NFL Championship Game they were recognized as one of the most physical teams in the league.
During Reger’s nine seasons with the Steelers, he made the Pro Bowl three straight times, following the 1959, 1960, and 1961 seasons. In those three years, the Steelers finished 17-19-2.
Reger concluded his NFL career with three seasons as a linebacker for the Washington Redskins, and in 144 total games he finished with 15 interceptions and 20 fumble recoveries, and he scored two defensive touchdowns.