The Steelers Hall of Honor Class of 2020 was heavy on defense, as the inductees included Dwight White, Mike Wagner, James Farrior, Greg Lloyd and Troy Polamalu.
"This is the first time our class has included only players," Art Rooney II said. "I think that is great. It recognizes what a great number of players we have.
"Over the years we have become known as a franchise that has always put strong defense on the field. Some of our most significant players in history have been defensive players. I guess that is how it should be as Steelers football has evolved."
Dwight White was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round out of East Texas State in the 1971 NFL Draft. White would become a member of the legendary Steel Curtain, which had White at the right defensive end spot, Ernie Holmes at right defensive tackle, Joe Greene at left defensive tackle and L.C. Greenwood at left defensive end. The dominating unit led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles in six years in the 1970s.
White was diagnosed with severe pneumonia after the Steelers arrived in New Orleans for Super Bowl IX and spent a week in the hospital, losing 18 pounds. White miraculously still played in the game and even scored the first points in Steelers Super Bowl history when Vikings' quarterback Fran Tarkenton recovered a fumble in the end zone and White tackled him for a safety.
White played 10 seasons with the Steelers and was a two-time Pro Bowler and had 46 career sacks, which ranks 10th in team history.
Mike Wagner was drafted by the Steelers in the 11th round out of Western Illinois in the 1971 NFL Draft. Wagner would go on to win four Super Bowls with the Steelers in the 1970s and was a key part of those championship defenses at safety. Wagner played 10 seasons in Pittsburgh and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection who finished his career with 36 career interceptions, including a career-high eight interceptions in 1973, which also was tied for the league lead that year.
Wagner came up big in crucial moments in his career, especially when it came to playing in Super Bowls. Wagner had an interception off Frank Tarkenton in Super Bowl IX in the fourth quarter to help the Steelers close out a 16-6 win. Wagner also intercepted Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X in the fourth quarter on the same play that he was beaten for a touchdown in the first quarter. The turnover helped increase the Steelers' lead to 15-10. Wagner would help seal the win when he tipped Staubach's pass on the final play of the game and Glen Edwards intercepted it to close out the 21-17 win over the Cowboys.
James Farrior, a former 8th overall pick by the Jets in 1997, signed with the Steelers in 2002 during free agency. It's Kevin Colbert's greatest free-agent acquisition to date.
Farrior, a two-time Super Bowl champion, was a key part of the Steelers 2005 and 2008 Super Bowl-winning teams, as he was a tremendous leader and the quarterback of the defense. Farrior made 154 starts in Pittsburgh and was a tackling machine, recording 1,085 total tackles in his 10 years as a Steeler. Seven of those seasons he had over 100 tackles. In addition, Farrior had 30 sacks, 82 tackles for a loss, 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries and eight interceptions during his tenure with the Steelers.
Farrior was a two-time Pro Bowl selection, named first-team All-Pro once and was voted the Steelers MVP in 2004.
The Steelers drafted Greg Lloyd in the sixth round out of Ford Valley State in the 1987 NFL Draft, and he brought mayhem to the Steelers defense right from the start. Lloyd was fast, physical and relentless. He was an intimidating player and found pleasure in punishing quarterbacks. In Lloyd's 10 seasons as a Steeler, he had 727 total tackles, 53.5 sacks, 34 forced fumbles and 10 interceptions. Lloyd along with Kevin Greene was a dynamic pass-rush duo and their ability to sack the quarterback had fans and the media calling the Steelers' defense of the mid-1990s Blitzburgh.
Lloyd was a three-time All-Pro and ranks ninth on the team's all-time sack list with 53.5. He played in five Pro Bowls and was named team MVP twice.
Troy Polamalu had incredible instincts as a football player. He was able to time the snap and jump over the line of scrimmage and sabotage quarterbacks, he could play the run like a linebacker, he had amazing range when in coverage and was able to make incredible one-handed interceptions. He was a special player. He did things that no one has ever seen on a football field. That's why Polamalu was first-ballot selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Modern-Era member of the Class of 2020.
The Steelers traded up 11 spots to select Troy Polamalu at 16th overall out of USC in the 2003 NFL Draft, and it sure paid off, as Polamalu was a two-time Super Bowl champion, four-time first-team All-Pro selection, two-time second-team All-Pro selection, NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2010), eight-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Steelers All-Time Team.
In Polamalu's 12-year career as Steeler, he had 783 total tackles, 12 sacks, 32 interceptions, 56 tackles for a loss, 107 passes defensed, 13 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries during the regular season. His postseason numbers include 40 total tackles, one half-sack, four tackles for a loss, seven passes defensed and three interceptions, one which was he picked off Joe Flacco and returned for a touchdown in the 2008 AFC Championship Game to send the Steelers to Super Bowl XLIII.
The Hall of Honor now has 41 members since it began in 2017. The time of this year's celebration is unknown due to COVID-19, which has prevented fans from attending games at Heinz Field.
“We would like to have the ceremony when we can have our fans present,” Rooney said. “Right now, that is unknown when that will happen. Hopefully, we’ll get to introduce them before the season is over.”