Pittsburgh Steelers: Cornering The Market

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Oct 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; General view of the NFL logo on the goal post pad before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dwelling On Jack Butler, Willie Daniel, Chidi Iwouma

Jack Butler: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ number of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame located in Canton, Ohio is a list that continues to grow. Jerome Bettis goes in this August.

Back in 2012, defensive back Jack Butler became a member. Having played his entire career with the Steelers that began in 1951 and finished with his retirement in 1959, Butler’s background is a very intriguing one. Born in the ‘Burgh, Butler’s birth name was John Bradshaw Butler. Butler played high school football at Mount Carmel High located near Niagara Falls, Canada. When it came time for college, Butler chose St. Bonaventure in New York.

Jack Butler during his playing days had the size of some defensive backs suiting up today. At 6’1, 200 pounds, Butler only came to the Pittsburgh Steelers because Art Rooney Sr.’s brother Dan discovered Butler while serving as a priest at St. Bonaventure. Dan told the original owner of the team he should sign the cornerback. The Chief did just that and the rest is history.

History in the form of 52 career interceptions. That ties him for 26th all-time in the league. In 1957, Butler picked off 10 passes to lead the league. Four times in his career he returned a pick for a score. His longest return was for 52 yards and that was in his rookie season that saw him intercept five passes. On December 13, 1953, Jack Butler faced off against a Washington Redskins offense that when the final gun sounded, had four of their passes picked off by the future Hall of Famer.

Jack Butler’s career did not end by choice. A leg injury forced his retirement in 1959. The accolades are many: four-time Pro Bowler; three-time First Team All-Pro; named to the NFL’s 1950s All-Decade Team; the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team; Pittsburgh’s All-Time Team; Pittsburgh’s 50th season All-Time Team; and is on the Steelers’ Legends Team. A little over a year after being inducted into the Hall of Fame, sadly, Jack Butler passed on at the age of 85.

Willie Daniel: Perhaps no Pittsburgh Steelers fan is going to recall the name Willie Daniel. However, the ex-Steelers cornerback played six seasons with the Black and Gold after signing with the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1961.

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In that first season, Daniel played in all 14 games and finished with three interceptions. He followed that up with a five-interception season in 1962. When he left the Steelers for the Los Angeles Rams in 1967, Willie Daniel had played in 75 games in those six years and picked off 11 passes. One went for a touchdown and he addd two fumble recoveries.

As a graduate of Mississippi State University, Daniel was named to their Sport Hall of Fame in 1986.

Tragically, football played a part in his passing just this past June as he had suffered from dementia credited to concussions he had suffered during his playing days. With that knowledge, Daniel had participated in a research project conducted by Boston University that was studying football head injuries. Daniel was 77 when he died on June 29, 2015.

Chidi Iwuoma: Perhaps one of the more peculiar names to ever suit up for the Pittsburgh Steelers was Chidi Iwuoma. His parents emigrated from Nigeria and Iwuoma attended high school in Pasadena, California then on to California University. Iwuoma was an undrafted rookie cornerback in 2001 and signed with the Detroit Lions.

After two seasons there, he came over to Pittsburgh and became a special teams star while also filling in for the secondary. For two seasons, Chidi Iwuoma was the special teams co-captain. A shoulder injury in 2006 was the beginning of the end for Iwuoma’s Steelers career as he then was concussed in the pre-season and Bill Cowher released him. But more than a corner, Iwuoma made his mark more so on the special teams units.

Next: Reminiscing about Randy Fuller and Ike Taylor