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The Men Who ‘Ran’ To Greatness In Steelers History

Steelers running back Dick Hoak #42

Steelers running back Dick Hoak #42


The Pittsburgh Steelers have an outstanding history of great running backs. From the smash-mouth ones to the fast ones, The  Steelers have won many games relying on some durable running backs.

No.5 – Dick Hoak (1961-1970)

Retired as the number two leading rusher in team history, Hoak was one of the few running backs to last ten years with the Steelers.  Hoak was a bright spot on some very bad teams.  Hoak finished  his career with 3,965 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.


No.4 -Willie Parker (2004-2009)

Without a doubt the most fleet-footed starting running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers ever, Willie Parker will always be known for the 75-yard touchdown run against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bwll XL that broke the game open. Parker was always a threat, especially on sweeps and draw plays. Rushed for 5,378 yards and 24 touchdowns.


John Henry Johnson Steelers

No. 3 –  John Henry Johnson (1960-1966)
John Henry was a 1953 second-round draft pick of the Steelers. He first opted to play in Canada but after one season at Calgary, he returned to the United States to start his NFL career with the 49ers. He was an immediate sensation, finishing second in the league in rushing with 681 yards and a 5.3-yard average.  With the Steelers, Johnson enjoy his best seasons.  In both 1962 and 1964, he broke the 1,000-yard rushing barrier, the first Steeler to achieve that lofty level.  Johnson retired in 1966 as the fourth all- time leading rusher in NFL history. That says a lot within itself. In only six seasons, Johnson rushed for 6,803 yards along with 26 touchdowns. Nearly unheard of in today’s time. Only Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis have more yards.




No.2 – Franco Harris (1972-1983)

The all time leading rusher the Pittsburgh Steelers with 11,950 yards along with 91 touchdowns. One of the few running backs in history with four Super Bowl rings. Harris will always be known for the Immaculate Reception vs the Raiders. Versatile and strong enough to have played fullback and running back, Harris became a Hall of Fame inductee. Simply one if the best all time.


No.1 – Jerome Bettis (1996-2005)

“The Bus” averaged 72.9 yards a game as a Pittsburgh Steelers running back, which is the best in team history. Bettis rushed for 10,571 yards and 78 touchdowns with Pittsburgh after a slow start with the Los Angeles Rams. Bettis was known for running over people on a consistent basis. A top-10 all time leading rusher at number 6 in the NFL, Bettis rushed for a career-total 13,662 yards and 94 touchdowns. 6- time Pro Bowler and was named an All-Pro three times. With out question a future Hall of Fame inductee.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. DrGeorge

    July 26, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Mr. Smith, thank you for including John Henry Johnson, who is too often overlooked in articles like this one because he was a superb player on a mediocre team. It’s too bad there isn’t a special category for guys like Rocky Blier, who didn’t have gaudy numbers, but whose contributions far exceeded his stats.

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