Super Bowl 58 kicks off tonight. Be it the Kansas City Chiefs or San Francisco 49ers, a winner will be crowned. It won’t be the Pittsburgh Steelers. They haven’t hoisted a Lombardi since the 2008-2009 season, and it’s not clear when the team will add a seventh.
Most Steelers’ greats have at least one ring. The ’70s dynasty has literally a handful. More recent players are Super Bowl winners, too. Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison. Even every head coach of the last 50 years has a ring.
But there’s still a section of Steeler’s greats who never raised the Lombardi over their head. There was no Super Bowl period. There is just an empty void where that trophy was supposed to be. Here are the top five Steelers to never win a ring. Two notes. We’re including rings with other teams, too. So, no Rod Woodson, who won his championship with the Baltimore Ravens. It wasn’t in Pittsburgh, but he still knows what Super Bowl glory is like. And we’ll only count players from the Super Bowl era. No one before it.
1. C Dirt Dawson: 1988-2000
Dawson went to one Super Bowl, the team’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys in 1995, but he never had the confetti fall down on him. One of the great Steelers’ centers who doesn’t have a ring, Dawson started 181 games, an Iron Man throughout most of his career.
He came to the team long after their dynasty run and exited a handful of years before the team made their early-mid 2000 runs. Dawson appeared in 13 playoff games, the Steelers going 6-7 over that time, but only once did the Steelers advance past the AFC Championship Game.
2. DL Cam Heyward: 2011-Present
Thursday, Heyward picked up the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Now, all he needs is a Lombardi to pair with it. But even winning a playoff game has proven difficult during Heyward’s tenure with the Steelers, headed into its 14 season. He’s just 1-7 in playoff games he’s participated in, only making it to the AFC Championship in 2016, a year he was hurt and did not play. Pittsburgh lost to New England – again – anyway.
On the field, Heyward’s proven to be one of the best players at his position. The only thing missing from his resume is playoff success. If it doesn’t change over the remainder of his career, it’ll be one of the most unfortunate marks of a Steelers’ legend. Much of it isn’t his fault, but few Steelers’ greats, and Heyward is one of them, have had this lack of playoff success.
3. C Maurkice Pouncey: 2010-2020
There are some great Steelers centers without a ring. Pouncey is one of them, a potential Hall of Famer who only made it one Super Bowl. And he was hurt for it, placed on IR ahead of the team’s loss to the Green Bay Packers after severely injuring his ankle. He would make it back to only one other AFC Championship Game and went 4-4 in playoff games he participated in.
Mike Tomlin recently admitted failing to get Pouncey a ring is one of his biggest professional regrets.
4. OLB T.J. Watt – 2017-Present
Unfortunately, this list features plenty of current players. That happens when you wipe out an entire decade like the ’70s. The silver lining is Watt hasn’t played as much football as others on this list, and his fortunes still have a chance to change. But he also doesn’t have a single postseason victory in his career. He’s done everything else. Tied sack records, won Defensive Player of the Year, been a dominant force and one of the game’s best. But he’s officially 0-3 in games he’s played in, and Pittsburgh was unable to beat Buffalo this year, which would’ve given Watt the chance to play against Baltimore in the Divisional Round.
Watt is much like his older brother J.J. Right down to the missing playoff success. Combined, the two are 3-9 in the postseason.
5. K Gary Anderson: 1982-2004
Going to throw a curveball for this last spot. Anderson spent over two decades in the NFL, his Steelers’ career spanning from 1982 to 1994, and he never won a Super Bowl with any team. Heck, he never even made it to the Big Game. That extra longevity is one reason why he gets the nod.
Of course, kickers don’t have the biggest impact on playoff success (though his OT 50-yarder to beat Houston in 1989 shouldn’t be forgotten), and he was stuck on some mid-tier Steelers’ ’80s teams, transitioning from the ’70s dynasty.
He left after the 1994 season, one year before Pittsburgh made it to the Super Bowl. Kicking through his age-45 season, Anderson’s teams went 9-13 in the playoffs. He made the 1980 and 1990 All-Decade teams but never a Super Bowl appearance. Of those players in history who played their entire career in the Super Bowl era, only three made two All-Decade teams without ever going to the Super Bowl: OL Will Road, WR/RET Billy Johnson, and Anderson.
“Honorable” Mentions: LB Greg Lloyd, RB Le’Veon Bell, DB Carnell Lake, OT Tunch Illkin