Pittsburgh Steelers All Underrated Team: Fullback

New series we’re kicking off today and take us throughout the summer. We’ve written about the best players in franchise history and the most underrated on the current edition but we’ve never gone through the list of most underrated position-by-position. Not the best ones to ever wear a Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniform but ones who fans have – and shouldn’t – forgot.

Moving onto fullback.

Dan Kreider/FB – 2000-2007

To me, Kreider isn’t underrated. I remember him well, remember him fondly. But maybe that’s just my bias towards the people who do the grunt work. Perhaps Steelers’ Nation doesn’t revere him the same way, a feeling I’ve gotten talking about underrated players in the past.

This era of the Steelers, early to mid-2000s, was centered around the running game. There’s zero debate their rushing attack wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if it wasn’t for Kreider. From humble beginnings, he was a UDFA out of New Hampshire. The Steelers cut him out of camp and signed him to the practice squad, a time where teams would carry two fullbacks. When Jon Witman went down with injury, Kreider came up, and Witman got Wally Pipped him.

Immediately, he contributed, leading columnist Bruce Keidan to quip.

“Let’s clear this up once and for all: You don’t lose your starting job due to an injury. You do lose it, though, if the guy who gets the chance to play in your absence happens to turn out to play better than you. Which is why Dan Kreider may be the Steelers’ starting fullback even if Jon Witman comes back better than ever next year.”

Witman didn’t come back better than ever but Kreider remained the starter. By 2001, the Steelers had the best ranked rushing offense and finished second three seasons later. Finally, in 2005, with their smashmouth brand of football, the Steelers won their first Lombardi since the Chuck Noll era. In the playoffs, the Steelers ran for at least 100 yards in three of four games and at least a rushing score in all four.

Kreider would be the guy up through 2007, though in that final year, Carey Davis took his job. Kreider spent one year in St. Louis, another in Arizona, and then called it quits after a neck injury.

He didn’t touch the ball very often throughout his career. In eight seasons with Pittsburgh, he carried the ball just 31 times and chipped in 60 receptions. That works out to under a touch per game. But that wasn’t his role. It was to protect the guys who were holding onto the football, a job he did supremely well as the era of brute-force fullbacks came to a close.

“I’ve always known my role on this team, and that is to be a lead blocker,” he told the Post Gazette back in 2006. “Anytime you can concentrate on one thing, you can excel at it. I feel like if I can concentrate on blocking and be the lead blocker and we can run the ball successfully, I feel like that’s a success for me. I don’t worry about all those extras.”

There aren’t too many details on what Krieder is doing post-football, though he’s mentioned in interviews about doing maintenance work on properties he and his family own. He also brought a golden football to his high school last year, given out by the NFL to every school that produced a Super Bowl player or coach. Also a couple clips of his high school days included, which are pretty cool.

Dan Kreider, your blast from the past.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Conserv_58

    IMO, Dan Kreider was at the top of the list as one of the best FB’s to play for the Steelers. I’m sure that Jerome Bettis would attest to that. What Steelers fan didn’t love watching Dan jack Ray Lewis up and flatten him on his back? Dan’s great blocking played a big role in extending Jerome’s career.

  • Big White

    quality

  • Dshoff

    We’ve had some great FBs. Kreider was great, Whitman was great, and so was Tim Lester. I actually think NIx could be really great as well. I remember Nix’s first or second game back this year after injury; he was really popping guys like crazy.

  • Alex Kozora

    John L. Williams too, though he was here for just two seasons.

  • israelp

    I had forgotten he was around for so long. I would have guessed maybe 2003.

  • AndyR34

    Alex – Kreider is a great pick here…both positionally and in performance. We…no…our running game missed him when he moved on.

  • Craig M

    My understanding was that Dan Kreider was the one who turned the Steelers onto Bettis from his Rams days. And if so I got to give him bonus points just for that.

  • Danny Young

    I wonder how Kuhn would have turned out with us

  • Robert E Lil

    Dan Kreider was great. End of discussion. A great Steeler and he will always be a favorite. And that position is so important to Pittsburgh. Don’t know why but it just is. Somehow it seems the Steelers have more success when that position is producing. To me the decline/abandonment of that position is the biggest miss of Tomlins career

  • Rocksolid20

    Best fullback to play for the Steelers was a 1000yrd rusher
    named Rocky Bleier .

  • Eric Mack

    It’s confusing. However Rocky was usually listed as the halfback and Franco as the fullback.

  • Eric Mack

    Bettis was here years before Kreider. Tim Lester is the fb who preceded Bettis here. However it’s hard to say Lester turned them onto him. Bettis had one of the greatest rookie years ever at RB for LA. He fizzled out by losing carries, but he was a known commodity.

  • Eric Mack

    Arians killed the FB here and Haley brought it back. But they went to 2 SB and won one with very little FB play so that success statement is unfounded.

  • rystorm06

    Krieder will always be on my favorite player list, ever since he put OJ Lewis on his ass

  • rystorm06

    John L. Williams was probably one of the most complete fullbacks I’ve seen. The guy was a good blocker, decent runner, and a good receiver out of the backfield. He was the guy who could do it all. My dad was a Seattle fan, so I watched a lot of games with him in it. Really good player.

  • Conserv_58

    The Steelers promoting Bruce Ariens to OC ended the FB position in his offense. Mendenhall asked for a FB because he felt better running behind one. That request fell on deaf ears. Stubborn brick head, Ariens refused to employ one.

  • Conserv_58

    Tim Lester was the FB until mounting injuries took their toll on his body. His demise was why the Steelers aquired Dan Kreider.

  • Conserv_58

    IMO, That’s subjective when considering the eras they played in. Mean Joe’s playing weight was around 275 lbs. ILB, Levon Kirkland weighed that much in the early 90’s.

    I loved watching Rocky play, especially know that he was doing so with missing toes on one foot due to his time in Viet Nam.

  • Eric Mack

    Actually as the article states Jon Witman was the FB when Kreider arrived. Lester was gone over a year before Kreiders arrival.

  • Craig M

    My bad, it was Lester. I should have remembered that being I also followed the Rams way back.

  • the original “Bus Driver”