Some of these may seem improper to some of you; but I am evaluating this list on the following: Which players were better than how they are perceived by fans and media. That doesn't mean the players were not considered good, but rather, they are just not typically thought of or portrayed as good as they really were. This list will have some players that will make some say, "They aren't overrated. They were loved during their day." But that isn't the point. The point is that they aren't as appreciated or valued as much as I think they deserved.
Barry Foster. His legacy isn't as high because he only produced for a few seasons. But in his heyday, he was very good. As a matter of fact, he was among the best backs in the NFL in his prime. One season he came close to being the NFL leading rusher for the season. In all honesty, I think he was as good as another Foster who plays today: Arian Foster. I think Barry was as good as he is. And they have similar running styles. Unfortunately for Barry, he got kind of a later start (Noll said he was the toughest player he ever knew, but refused to use him as a running back, which makes no sense.) It wasn't until Cowher showed up that Barry got his chance, and when he got it, he kicked @ss. But once he got his big pay day, his heart just wasn't in it, and even failed in two comeback efforts, one in Cinci and one in SF. When we bring up great Steeler running backs, Barry is usually not mentioned.
Hines Ward. How can the franchise all-time WR in catches, yards and TDs be underrated? I don't know, but he is. I personally have allowed my memory of how great he was to slip. Just the other day I was watching highlights of Hines and said to myself, "I forgot how good this guy was." And his contributions go far beyond his #s, even though he does has impressive #s. We all recall his crushing blocks, which were incredible, and legal, I might add. So they had to make rules changes because he was breaking dudes' faces. But every hit he made was legal at the time. And his leadership was incredible. We don't win a ring in 2005 without him period. He was the one who led the "win one for the Bus" campaign. Ward was never flashy. He wasn't the fastest and certainly not the biggest. But he got every inch out of his talent; he was even missing an ACL his entire career - not an ACL that had been repaired, it never was. He just played without one. And who can forget that energetic smile? Hines should be remembered at LEAST as favorably as Swann and Stalworth, but I don't think he is.
Greg Lloyd. A nasty staph infection cut his career short, or maybe he wouldn't make this list. But whenever they show all the great Steeler defenders, they include Mean Joe, Lambert, Ham, Blount, Woodson, LC (maybe), Shell...but they usually don't include Lloyd. Greg Lloyd was the original Harrison before there was a Harrison. Each and every play, if #95 didn't make the tackle, he was a blur on the screen at the end of the play. He was just plain nasty. He lived to hit. Loved to hit. He scared the crap out of opposing QBs. Not many can make such a claim. Lloyd probably doesn't get his due because they won no rings in his tenure. That always hurts a legacy, to some degree. But for the period between the 70's dynasty, the losing 80s and before the most recent run on some rings, Lloyd was every bit the most impacting defender in his era. They didn't win a ring - but they did make one Super Bowl and should have made 2 more at least - but they had some darn good teams, and defenses, in his stead. He could do it all and had that mean streak in him that Steeler fans love. I remember him as fondly as ANY Steeler ever.
Carnell Lake. Maybe not remembered as much for all the same reasons Lloyd isn't (no rings). But Rod Woodson is always considered a top 10 Steeler of all time, and, for the life of me, I think Lake played his position every bit as great as Woodson played his. Lake was so good at safety, that he even had the ability to play CB very well when needed. How many safeties can adequately play CB? Even great ones? Lake make plays when they were needed most, either by picking off a pass or sacking the QB or causing a turn over when they needed it most. And, all he ever did was do everything with pure class, no griping (even Rod bitched and moaned sometimes). Lake was phenomenal. He was rock solid in every way.
John Jackson. He was a stellar LT for years - just solid as hell. And yet, you never hear his name mentioned. He was a rock. With JJ manning the LT, we never had to worry. He had it covered. We actually haven't had a LT that good since he was playing there. Marvel Smith was pretty good too, maybe they were about equal, but point is, JJ at LT was amongst the best LT we have ever seen in Pgh.
Jeff Hartings. Most of his career was not in Pgh, but, when he was playing center, he was iron clad, even though previous to Pgh he played OG. The 2005 run to a ring doesn't happen without JH. He was key to our rushing game. That was one of the best free agents ever signed by Pgh. It's not that he isn't looked on positively, it's just that he isn't remembered very often in most circles.
Who you got?