The history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, all 82 seasons and counting, can be divided into three distinct eras. For the purpose of this exercise, which will become clear momentarily, those eras will be defined as The Dark Ages, The Renaissance, and The Modern Era.
The Dark Ages span the time from the franchise's inaugural NFL season of 1933 until Jan. 27, 1969, which was the day the team hired Chuck Noll. That began The Renaissance, an era highlighted by four Super Bowl championships during a six-season span of the 1970s, an era when the franchise dominated the annual NFL Draft by selecting nine players who would be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an era that had the Steelers morph from lovable losers into a team as feared as it was respected.
Noll would retire on Dec. 26, 1991, which marked the end of The Renaissance, and when Dan Rooney hired Bill Cowher as the new coach on Jan. 21, 1992, that brought the Steelers into The Modern Era.
As part of their 75th Season Celebration, in 2007, the Steelers and their fans picked a 33-player All-Time Team, with that number chosen to represent the year of the franchise's birth. As could be expected, that 33-man All-Time Team was dominated by the 1970s Steelers, but the continued success of the franchise during the 1990s-2000s has come to deserve some recognition of its own.
That's why, over the next couple of weeks, I will present to you my very unofficial and unauthorized All-Modern Era team, because the Steelers franchise has enjoyed another run of success since 1992, a run of success that included 12 more division championships, 19 home playoff games, four AFC Championships and two more Lombardi trophies.
The eligibility requirement is that the players will be considered based on contributions to the Steelers from 1992 until the present. The All-Modern Era team is made up of 26 players – 11 on offense, 11 on defense, and four specialists. And its purpose is to entertain, maybe spark some debate, all the while whetting the appetite for the opening of the team's 2015 training camp at Saint Vincent College.
We will begin tomorrow with the process of introducing the Steelers' All-Modern Era team.