Five Players You May Not Have Realized Were Steelers: Part 1
By: Joseph Pucciarella
The year is 1995, and the “Cardiac Colts” were poised to take one last Hail Mary in efforts to take the 9-7 Colts to the Superbowl. The “Comeback Kid” Jim Harbaugh drops back, winds up, and launches Indy’s last prayer. There’s confusion, a pile of players, and a receiver by the name of Aaron Bailey insisting he caught the ball; and ultimately a Steelers celebration. The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to the Superbowl!
You might remember at that time a very respectful, and gracious coach by the name of Ted Marchibroda. He was standing outside the visitors’ locker room at Three Rivers Stadium. He was defeated, but likable and admirable.
What some may not realize is while Coach Marchibroda has an impressive coaching resume, and now serves as a Colt’s pre-game commentator, he is also number five on the list of People you may have not realized were Steelers.
In 1953 the Steelers drafted Marchibroda, a quarterback born and raised in Pennsylvania. He played one year for the Steelers before departing for duties with the United States Army. He returned to the Steelers in 1955, right around the time Doctor Emmet L Brown bumped his head and was dreaming up notions of the flux capacitor. He played for the Steelers from 1955-’56 before departing to the Chicago Cardinals in 1957.
While Marchibroda’s NFL playing career only lasted four seasons, accumulating 2,169 career yards and 16 career TDs, his coaching career spanned over 20 years before retirement after the 98 Season. Five assistants under Marchibroda went on to serve as NFL Head Coaches.
When you hear the name Jack Kemp, you might think Politics. Kemp served on the Bush Administration from 1989 to 1993, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1989. In 1988 he was a nomination for the G.O.P. presidential nominee. Or perhaps you’ll remember him as the vice president nominee in the 1996 election, running alongside Republican Bob Dole.
While he was an accomplished politician, he also had a fairly impressive NFL resume. He was a 17th round draft choice for the Detroit Lions, but ended up debuting his NFL career with the Steelers in 1957.
His football career was spent on a few different teams, including his most memorable years with the Buffalo Bills from ’62-69. He still holds numerous AFL records, including AFL regular season passing yards, completions, and AFL career championship game passing yards. He is currently on the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame.
Kemp disclosed his battle with cancer in January 2009, and continued to work in politics and charities until his death in May of the same year. Following his passing, he was praised by Presidents George W. Bush, and Barack Obama; citing his hard work in the Regan administration, strong principles, and understanding of race and social classes.
He’s entering his 7th season as the starting kicker for the Tennessee Titans, and has accumulated nearly an 86% field goal percentage, with a long of 60 yards. Kicker Rob Bironas is #3 on the list.
In June of 2004 the Steelers agreed to terms with Bironas prior to the pre-season. He was brought in as an extra body to audition his skills behind Steelers starting kicker Jeff Reed. Prior to that signing Bironas was playing for the Carolina Cobras, an Arena football team. He was entering his third venture into the NFL. After going undrafted in the 2002 NFL Draft he had a short stint with the Green Bay Packers and spent two pre-season games with Tampa Bay in 2003.
In Rob’s last pre-season game as a Steeler, Bironas was 2 of 2, one from 48 yards out. Bironas of-course left Pittsburgh, was signed by Tennessee and has had a very successful career thus far. He’s been reliable, and oh yeah he holds the NFL record for most field goals in a game, with eight.
Last season Bironas completed 24 of 26 field goals, with a long of 55 yards.
Check back soon for part two!