The Steelers currently have 23 former players, coaches or contributors in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that number will increase to 24 later this summer when Kevin Greene is inducted as a member of the Class of 2016. In advance of his induction Steelers.com will share the stories of the 23 Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Wide Receiver (1974-87)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: 2002
A year after Lynn Swann, his teammate, friend and the man he played receiver with for nine years was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, John Stallworth got his day in the sun as a member of the Class of 2002.
The previous year Swann spoke about Stallworth deserving to be there along with him.
"He and I battled day in and day out," Swann said of Stallworth during his induction speech. "We competed for that limited number of passes that we knew that we were going to throw every game on Sunday. And, we wanted it desperately. I could not be standing here if it were not for that competitive spirit that I learned from John Stallworth, for his trust and his faith in me as a wide receiver.
"This is, this is the single greatest honor in my life. And, if this is the greatest hour of my life, then I would tell you at this moment, this is only a half-hour. It'll be the greatest hour when I can stand and sit in that back row and John Stallworth is wearing a gold jacket making this speech."
Swann was there the following year when Stallworth completed the hour.
"John probably was a little more physical than Lynn, who was a little more athletic and had the ability to run very well after the catch by making people miss," said late Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Noll. "John would break tackles, then run well after the catch. Both complemented one another. Both helped the running game, also, because in order to have the running game go, to make people respect your running game so you can throw the football, they had to block. They blocked downfield, both of them, very well."
Check out photos of Steelers' Hall of Famer John Stallworth
Stallworth, the Steelers fourth-round selection in the historic Steelers 1974 NFL Draft class, caught 537 passes for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns, all Steelers team records at the time of his retirement. He also scored one rushing touchdown.
He played in six AFC championship games and was a part of the Steelers four Super Bowl championships and was named team MVP twice. Stallworth was named All-Pro in 1979, All-AFC in 1979 and 1984 and played in four Pro Bowls. He had 12 postseason touchdown catches and 17-consecutive postseason games with a reception.
Stallworth scored the game winning touchdown on a 73-yard reception in Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams. Stallworth still holds the Super Bowl record for average yard per catch with 24.4 yards. He also holds the record for single-game average, 40.33 yards, set in Super Bowl XIV. Swann is second in that category with a 40.25 yard average from Super Bowl X, and Stallworth third with a 38.33 yard average in Super Bowl XIII.
During his Hall of Fame acceptance speech Stallworth talked about his first impression of Pittsburgh when he arrived in 1974, and how that changed after the Steelers won Super Bowl IX.
"I've learned that first impressions are not always correct. My first day in Pittsburgh was a mid-winter night right after the draft. It was cold, the trees were barren, it was snowing and I didn't bring a big coat from Alabama. I don't think I owned a big coat.
"And I was going to a team that didn't seem to be terribly thrilled about throwing the football, the kiss of death for a receiver. My first impression of that situation was this is not a good thing.
"Eight months later, I arrived at the airport and caravanned into Pittsburgh after our first Super Bowl win. It was cold. The trees were equally as barren. It was snowing. As a matter of fact, it had been snowing for several days.
"But the difference was there were the people. They were lining the highway from the airport all the way to the city, easily a 20-minute drive. You would have thought it was mid-summer.
"And I came away from that experience with a deep appreciation of the people of Western Pennsylvania. I thank you. I thank you, the people of Western Pennsylvania, for making a Southern boy feel at home for 14 years."
Stallworth is currently a member of the Steelers ownership group.