After putting much thought and analysis into it - maybe fifteen or twenty minutes of thinking about it - I came up with these four:
I mean, really, do I have to justify this choice? Simply put, the Greatest Steeler Ever.
A Hall of Famer, he is here for the simple reason that people need to be aware that the Steelers existed and had great players before the 1972 season.
Tough and smart, he may have been the best and most consistent defensive player of a team that was filled with Hall of Fame (and HOF caliber) defensive players.
The fourth guy has to be a quarterback, and I went back and forth between these two guys. Both were (and are) great. One has greater stats than the other, but an argument can be made that the stats for each of them are a function of the era in which that played, but each of them, I contend, would have excelled and been great, no matter the era. In the end, only one stat separates the two - four Super Bowl rings vs. two Super Bowl rings, so here is the fourth guy.
It is a very narrow margin, and on any given day I could still be talked into including this guy:
I ran this whole idea around at breakfast yesterday with Dan Bonk, Len Martin, Jim Haller, and Dave Finoli, and, of course, there was no unanimity. The two names most mentioned who should be on the list were Franco Harris and Mel Blount, and I would have no argument if either of those guys, especially Harris, were in the Steelers' Franchise Four, so let's a salute them here:
Oh, and I mentioned that I would have a word on MLB's Franchise Four selections. The name of Walter Johnson does not surface anywhere. Not on the Minnesota Twins list, not on the Texas Rangers list, nor, even, and this is really stretching it, the Washington Nationals list. That perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time cannot find his way on any of these lists calls the whole process into question, but I guess no one said that this would be anything more than a popularity contest decided by people raised in the era that says "if it wasn't on ESPN, it didn't happen."