Former Steelers Linebacker Andy Russell Dies at 82

George Gojkovich_Getty Images)
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Andy Russell, a member of two Steelers Super Bowl championship teams during the 60s and 70s, has died. He was 82 years old.

A 16th-round pick of the Steelers in 1963, Russell quickly proved his worth by becoming a starting linebacker during his rookie season. However, he had to take the next two years off from football to fulfill a military requirement. However, the two-year absence didn’t hurt his NFL career, as he quickly earned his starting job back.

Russell made his name as an iron man in the league, starting in 168 consecutive games, good enough for fourth all-time. But, he also made his name as one of the best linebackers of his era after being named to a Pro Bowl in 1968 and every year between 1970 and 1975.

In addition, Russell is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team and their Hall of Honor. Russell was named team MVP in 1971.

“We talk about him as being the third guy [as a linebacker], but he’s really the first,” Steelers great “Mean” Joe Greene said of Russell in 2018. “Andy Russell was there when we were the Steelers … you know, the team that everybody could beat. Andy suffered through some terrible years.

“Andy was a special, special teammate, experiencing all of the bad things that happened with the Steelers. He could share with the group the kinds of things that you needed to do to be successful. He was the guy that ‘brought the word’ to the locker room — and I mean by ‘bringing the word,’ the coaching philosophy, the teaching that Chuck Noll and his staff placed on us.

“He was able to translate and tell us that these are things that are going to come to pass and come to fruition. [And he’d tell us], ‘You need to listen to this guy.’ Over my 13 years I found out through experience you can have great coaches, but if you don’t have a messenger in the locker room who’s carrying his message it becomes very difficult. And Andy did that.”


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