With Willie Parker now with the Washington Redskins, the Pittsburgh Steelers will kick off the 2010-2011 NFL season with new starting running back Rashard Mendenhall in the backfield.
The 23-year-old Mendenhall will have huge shoes to fill this year. In Pittsburgh, it’s all about the run game, and a couple of the best running backs in NFL history have suited up in black ‘n’ gold over the years.
Here are my five favorite Pittsburgh Steelers running backs of all time.
#5 Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back of All Time
Willie Parker (2004-2009). While I prefer bigger running backs, “Fast” Willie brought a different dimension to the Steelers run game after the retirement of Jerome Bettis. Parker always kept you on the edge of your seat, because you never knew when he would break that long run as he did for 75 yards in Super Bowl XL.
#4 Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back of All Time
Merrill Hoge (1987-1993). Hoge was one of the few bright spots on the Pittsburgh Steelers during the end of the Chuck Noll era. He did whatever was necessary for Pittsburgh’s offense to move the ball. He had exceptional hands playing as a fullback at times and actually had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 1988 and 1990.
#3 Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back of All Time
Barry Foster (1990-1994). In 1992, Foster set the franchise-single season record with 1,690 rushing yards and also had 12 100-yards games to match Eric Dickerson’s NFL record. Who knows what other team and NFL rushing marks Foster would’ve set if it wasn’t for injuries. He unfortunately played only five NFL seasons.
#2 Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back of All Time
Franco Harris (1972-1983). When NFL fans think of the best Pittsburgh Steelers running backs of all time, Franco Harris’ name pops up first. Franco’s the all-time leading rusher for the franchise with 11,950 career yards and 91 TDs. His 6-foot-2, 230 pound frame made it virtually impossible for one defender to take him down.
#1 Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back of All Time
Jerome Bettis (1996-2005). Probably most Steelers fans would put Franco in the top slot here, but I’m rolling with “The Bus.” The quick-footed big guy ran over, through and around defenders for nine years with the Steelers. No. 36 averaged a franchise-best 72.9 yards a game and racked up 10,571 yards in Pittsburgh.
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