The Pittsburgh Steelers have played in seven Super Bowls and the Green Bay Packers have played in four. The Steelers have won six of them and the Packers three, meaning the winner of Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 will have 10 of the 45 Vince Lombardi trophies.
Bill Huber of Packer Report and Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider have worked together to create the Packers-Steelers All-Time Super Bowl Team.
Let the debating begin, starting with the offense.
Bill: What a list, with Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr and Hall of Famer-to-be Brett Favre. I've got to go with Starr. It's hard to quibble with five NFL championships and a 9-1 postseason record with 15 touchdown passes and three interceptions in those 10 games.
Jim: Frankly, I'll take Ben Roethlisberger. Starr was a game-manager, albeit a pretty damn good one. Bradshaw is flawed by his first five, six years of awful stats. Favre only did it once and will be remembered for his hideous interceptions as much as his clutch gunslinging. I don't want to look back on accomplishments. I want the best guy in his prime, and so far I think that's Roethlisberger. None of those other three played behind so many patchwork and/or reworked offensive lines. He's willing this team again, and, man, this is the last guy you want to install as an underdog in a Super Bowl.
Bill: Interesting choice, and one that will tick off Packers fans. But, my God, last year's game at Pittsburgh, the Packers had that won several times but they just couldn't haul him down. Starr has the championships (and class) but Roethlisberger's career is still going strong.
Jim: To Starr's credit, he's the only quarterback with a better postseason winning percentage. He's 9-1; Roethlisberger's 10-2. Starr had a better line and running game.
Bill: Maybe it's not surprising that the best running backs from these Super Bowl teams weren't known for electric moves and 4.4 40s. That's just not their style. Franco Harris and Jim Taylor were terrific fullbacks and both are Hall of Famers. Jerome Bettis was a halfback in a fullback's body. Paul Hornung's stats might not look all that great until you look at the scoring: 84 touchdowns, three-time scoring champion and regular-season record holder until LaDainian Tomlinson needed 16 games to break Hornung's 14-game record of 176 points.
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Jim: I can hang with Franco Harris and Paul Hornung. But I will give a shout out to my guy Willie Parker, who was known for his electricity and 40 time and Super Bowl-record long run.
Bill: The Packers have had a bunch of good receivers on their Super Bowl teams: Carroll Dale, Boyd Dowler and Max McGee on the Glory Years teams and Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks in the 1990s. If we're going three wides, the best I can come up with is Freeman, who caught 35 touchdown passes from 1996 through 1998.
Jim: I always thought Bradshaw's success was due to his fantastic receivers. Alas, I'm still putting Hines Ward ahead of Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth just because of all of his heart and soul. It oozes out in practice, in the offseason, in team meetings and in interviews. I can't get Swann or Stallworth to talk about anything. I know that shouldn't matter, but, hey, this is my vote and it's Ward. In fact, pairing Ward with Don Hutson would be old-school cool but with a modern twist.
Bill: The Packers had a great duo in 1996 with Mark Chmura and Keith Jackson. On the 1996 team, Jackson caught 10 touchdown passes. In 1997, Chmura — always a bruising blocker — caught six touchdowns. That's a pretty good tandem. The late Ron Kramer would have been the guy here but he missed the Super Bowl years while finishing his career with Detroit.
Jim: One of my favorite players and people in this game is Heath Miller. No one's tougher, particularly mentally. What a great competitor! I've got to go with him. His blocking the last two games has never been better, and I know what kind of clutch receiver he is, even thought his stats will never do him justice.
Jim: Nobody had the kind of strength and leverage in the pivot than Mike Webster — at least in my 43, 44 years of watching the league. But no center ever had the Sayers-like athleticism that Dermontti Dawson had. He dominated his position as a first-team All-Pro for six consecutive seasons. Of the 15 who've done that, 13 are in the Hall and the 14th, Larry Allen, isn't eligible yet. So, since Webster got all the rings and all the love and the Hall of Fame, I'm going with the incredible Dawson. Hands like a ninja fighter, feet like a Kentucky thoroughbred.
Bill: Bill Curry started in Super Bowl I and Ken Bowman in Super Bowl II. Bowman was terrific but not in their class.
Bill: How is Jerry Kramer not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I know they can't put all the Glory Years guys in but shouldn't being on the NFL's 50th Anniversary team be good enough? It's absurd. For what it’s worth, Kramer’s sidekick, Fuzzy Thurston, probably runs the best bar of anyone we’ll talk about here.
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Jim: And J.K. wrote a great book, too. I'll go with Alan Faneca at the other guard over the offensive captain of the 1970s, Sam Davis.
Bill: Vince Lombardi called Forrest Gregg "the finest player I every coached." That's good enough for me. Oh, and he played in 187 consecutive games.
Jim: Larry Brown caught the first touchdown pass in Steelers Super Bowl history, but a few years later he moved to right tackle — and was incredible. And he never received the acclaim he deserved. Chuck Noll said he belongs in the Hall of Fame. (We're working some great names into this, Bill. Looks like there's a little tradition here.)
Jim: Gary Anderson's name might be mud in Minnesota, but they called him Mr. Automatic in Pittsburgh.
Bill: Chris Jacke was a heck of a kicker. Not sure I ever considered him “Automatic,” though.
Bill: If you want a one-year wonder, Desmond Howard is the man. In 1996, he returned three punts for touchdowns, scored on another punt in the playoffs and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXI with his killer kickoff return that finished off New England. In 1967, Travis Williams — "The Roadrunner" — returned a record four kickoff returns for touchdowns and averaged a stunning 41.1 yards per runback. Take that, Devin Hester.
Jim: Knowing the great defensive backs that litter the Green Bay landscape, I'm going to put Rod Woodson here just to get him on the team. He was the most dangerous defensive playmaker I'd seen until Polamalu, and a ridiculous return man.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.
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