The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the more-storied franchises in the history of the National Football League. Pittsburgh has also been home to some of the greatest football players to ever play the game professionally. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw was once slinging passes to wide receiver Lynn Swann. All-time great running back Jerome Bettis had a NFL Network special dedicated to him in October of 2015. He may not be the most beloved player in the history of the club, but nobody can deny that Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the best players to ever feature for the Steelers.
For all of the success that the Steelers have enjoyed over the years, the team has also gotten plenty of things wrong. Remember when Limas Sweed was going to be the next great NFL WR according to some analysts? That not only never came close to happening. Sweed became far more known for failing to hold onto the football in big situations than for making big plays and positive contributions for the Steelers. Pittsburgh and Sweed parted ways not long after he failed to impress the club and fans, and his NFL career was over almost as quickly as it began.
For every draft pick that the Steelers have gotten right, there are also plenty of examples of selections that were, after the fact, viewed as wasted picks. Pittsburgh missed on multiple defensive linemen that the club drafted in the 1980s. Any one of them could make a list of the worst players in the history of the Steelers. There was also a fullback who, according to the Steelers, did not do enough to keep himself in playing shape. Some athletes simply aren't good enough to play in the NFL. Not being dedicated to the craft is an unforgivable offense.
14 Josh Scobee
Kickers are football players too and so Josh Scobee begins the list. The Steelers made a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the start of the 2015 NFL season to acquire Scobee and the kicker repaid his new club by missing a pair of kicks in the first game of the campaign. Scobee then misfired on two crucial attempts in a game against hated rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Baltimore accepted those gifts en route to winning the contest. That was the breaking point for the Steelers, as the club cut Scobee days after losing to the Ravens. Life is tough, sometimes.
13 Darryl Sims
You could choose from one of several defensive linemen that the Steelers selected in NFL Draft classes throughout the 1980s. We'll go with Darryl Sims if for no other reason than some of you may remember him from classic football video games. Sims had two sacks in 1985, his first season in Pittsburgh and in the NFL. That would be his best season in the NFL. Sims only got to the quarterback once more during his career, a career that lasted all of two years in Pittsburgh. Division rivals the Cleveland Browns hoped to get a gem in acquiring Sims. He did little of note in Cleveland.
12 Ricardo Colclough
The 2004 NFL Draft will be remembered fondly by fans of the Steelers. It was then when Pittsburgh took a young quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger. As great as that pick has been for the Steelers, the selection of Ricardo Colclough in the second round did not work out. Colclough was thought to have the ability to play either defensive back or linebacker. He did neither very well for Pittsburgh and he also was not all that great of a kick returner. He appeared in 36 games over four seasons with the Steelers and Colclough was out of the league not long after he left the Steelers.
11 Troy Edwards
The 13th pick of the 1999 NFL Draft seemed to be headed toward a fine NFL career after his rookie year. Troy Edwards finished his first season with 61 receptions and five touchdowns. That, unfortunately, would be as good as things got for Edwards in Pittsburgh. Edwards never found the end zone during his final two seasons with the Steelers and he had only 37 catches over that period. Edwards would manage to bounce around the NFL after his years in Pittsburgh, but he is now seen as a waste of a first-round draft pick. You'll always have those five touchdowns, Pittsburgh fans.
10 Rashard Mendenhall
Rashard Mendenhall does not, on stats and numbers alone, deserve to be mentioned as one of the worst players in the history of the Steelers. He makes the list, however, because of one moment in particular that helped to alter history. Mendenhall had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLV, one that was followed by the Green Bay Packers scoring a touchdown. That play is regarded as one that changed the course of the game and one that played a part in the Steelers losing to the Packers. A Super Bowl goat has to check in here, even if that is a bit harsh.
9 Bruce Davis
The perception put out there by analysts and even fans of the club is that the Steelers more often than not hit on NFL Draft classes. That was not the case in 2008, as the team whiffed multiple times. Bruce Davis was one of those misses. The linebacker chosen in the third round of that draft barely managed to get onto the field while with the Steelers. Davis never picked up a single start and he appeared in only five games. Pittsburgh allowed Davis to move on after his one year with the club and he failed to do much of note during a short stint with the Oakland Raiders.
8 Alonzo Jackson
The Steelers have a long history of selecting play-making linebackers who impacted games throughout their careers. Pittsburgh got it wrong when the club selected Alonzo Jackson in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Jackson appeared in only nine games for the team before Pittsburgh decided that the team could do better at the position. Jackson made five, count 'em, five solo tackles with the Steelers, none of which are remembered by fans who watched him take the field. Neither the Philadelphia Eagles nor the New York Giants could turn Jackson into a legitimate player.
7 Tim Worley
Ignore the fact that Tim Worley once flashed promise that he could be a talented running back for the Steelers. The most noteworthy moment of Worley's career with the club occurred in 1992, when he was suspended for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Worley, per his own admission, was banned after he missed a pair of mandatory tests all because he skipped them to attend the NBA All-Star Game. In his defense, the NBA did have a lot of talent in the league back in '92. Here's hoping that Worley at least had great seats for the game and that he enjoyed himself over the weekend.
6 George Izo
The famous saying teaches that one person's trash could be a treasure for a different individual. That was not the case for the Steelers when the team took a flier on George Izo in 1966. Picked second overall in the 1960 NFL Draft, Izo was already a bust by the time he landed in Pittsburgh. Izo did not revive his career while with the Steelers, losing both of his starts and posting some horrible quarterback stats. Izo was unable to complete 44 percent of his pass attempts while with Pittsburgh. He had two touchdowns and eight interceptions. Izo never again played in the NFL after he and the Steelers parted ways.
6. Jamain Stephens
"Tackle Jamain Stephens' performance never matched his talent level, but it was his inability to finish a simple camp-opening running test that finally caused the Steelers to lose patience with him." This was what Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette wrote about Stephens after he was released by the Steelers in July of 1999. The offensive tackle who was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft was so out of shape in the summer of 1999 that he nearly collapsed during a training camp drill. Stephens was an insult to the game at that point of his career.
5 LeGarrette Blount
It would be understood if some fans of the Steelers feel resentment whenever they watch LeGarrette Blount perform well for the New England Patriots. Blount was a massive disappointment after signing a two-year contract with Pittsburgh, picking up 266 yards and scoring two touchdowns in his 11 games with the Steelers. Blount's days in Pittsburgh were highlighted by he and fellow running back Le'Veon Bell being arrested for marijuana possession. Blount has had better days in New England, which means little to those who follow the Steelers.
4 Mark Malone
The Sporting News once went so far as to claim that Mark Malone was the worst quarterback to ever start for the Steelers. Ouch. Malone managed to hang around in the NFL from 1980 through 1989, which is impressive when you look at his numbers and his record. Along with losing 24 of his 45 starts with the Steelers, Malone had a problem with throwing the ball to members of opposing teams. He matched 54 touchdowns with 68 interceptions during his seven seasons with the Steelers. 37 of those picks occurred in his final two years in Pittsburgh.
3 Huey Richardson
You may, if you were to look up the name Huey Richardson via your favorite search engine or NFL.com, see Richardson wearing a Washington Redskins jersey. That says a lot about Richardson's career in Pittsburgh, which was largely forgettable. The 15th overall pick of the 1991 NFL Draft played in all of five games in his rookie campaign, as the defensive end failed to settle into the Pittsburgh defense. Richardson proved to not be much a fit anywhere else in the league. Brief stints with the Redskins and the New York Jets ended without Richardson making much of an impact.
2 Dick Leftridge
There is an easy argument to be made that Dick Leftridge deserves to be known as the worst player in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Leftridge was selected with the third overall pick of the 1966 NFL Draft, a decision that Pittsburgh would go on to regret despite of the championships that the team won in the 1970s. The fullback appeared in four games for the Steelers during his one and only season with the team and in the NFL. Leftridge's pro woes had to do with the fact that he could not get into good enough shape in the eyes of those running the Steelers. Come to think of it, running could be have benefited Leftridge back in the '60s.
1 Limas Sweed
“10 years from now, we’re going to say Limas Sweed was the most productive and most talented wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft class.” That, according to a story posted on The Daily Texan website, is how Sweed was described by ESPN analyst Todd McShay. Sweed, needless to say, did not reach those lofty expectations, mostly because he was unable to hang onto the ball and reel in passes. The highlight – or rather the lowlight – of Sweed's NFL career is a drop that he committed during the 2008 AFC Championship game. He failed to catch on in the CFL and Sweed eventually moved on to coaching football. Smart career decision, Limas.