The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are members of the National Football League (NFL) as part of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the AFC North division. Founded on July 8, 1933, the Steelers have played home games at Heinz Field since 2001.
The Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC and the 7th-oldest franchise in the NFL. The team was founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1933 by Art Rooney, taking its original name from the baseball team of the same name, then switched to Steelers in 1940 to better represent the city's steel industry. The ownership of the Steelers has remained within the Rooney family since its founding. The current owner is Art's son, Dan Rooney, who has given much control of the franchise to his son Art Rooney II.
The team only appeared in only one playoff game in its first 40 years, however Pittsburgh experienced a dynasty in the 1970's, winning four Super Bowl championships. The Steelers have won more Super Bowl titles (six), won more AFC Championship Games (eight) and hosted more conference championship games (11) than any other AFC or NFC team. The Steelers won their most recent championship, Super Bowl XLIII, during the 2008 season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL first took to the field as the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 20, 1933, taking its original name from the National League baseball team of the same name, as was common practice for NFL teams to do at the time. Prior to the 1940 season, owner Art Rooney Sr. changed the team name to Steelers to more properly represent the city’s dominant steel industry.
During World War II, the Steelers experienced player shortages. They twice merged with other NFL franchises to field a team. During the 1943 season, they merged with the Philadelphia Eagles forming the "Phil-Pitt Eagles" and were known as the "Steagles". In 1944, they merged with the Chicago Cardinals and were known as Card-Pitt (or, mockingly, as the "Carpets", who finished 0-10). After the war, the Steelers returned in 1945.
The Steelers logo was introduced in 1962 and is based on the "Steelmark", originally designed by Pittsburgh's U.S. Steel and now owned by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). In fact, it was Cleveland-based Republic Steel that suggested the Steelers adopt the industry logo. It consists of the word "Steelers" surrounded by three astroids (hypocycloids of four cusps). The original meanings behind the astroids were, "Steel lightens your work, brightens your leisure, and widens your world." Later, the colors came to represent the ingredients used in the steel-making process: yellow for coal, red for iron ore, and blue for scrap steel. While the formal Steelmark logo contains only the word "Steel," the team was given permission to add "ers" in 1963 after a petition to AISI.
The Steelers are the only NFL team that puts its logo on only one side of the helmet (the right side). Longtime field and equipment manager Jack Hart was instructed to do this by Art Rooney as a test to see how the logo appeared on the gold helmets; however, its popularity led the team to leave it that way permanently. A year after introducing the logo, they switched to black helmets to make it stand out more.
Although they never won an NFL Championship from the team's birth in 1933 to the first Super Bowl played during the 1966 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have since won six Super Bowl titles, the most of any NFL team.
After stumbling to a 7-5 start during the 2005 season, the Steelers rebounded and entered Super Bowl XL finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record. The Steelers became the first team to win three road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl, then win it all. Pittsburgh defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-17; the top-seeded Indianapolis Colts, 21-18; and the Denver Broncos, 34-17, in the AFC Championship Game.
The Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10. The franchise would tie the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys for most Super Bowl titles at five. After the Seahawks had drawn the game to 14-10, the Steelers clinched the game in the fourth quarter with Antwaan Randle El connecting with Hines Ward 43-yard touchdown to ice the game. Hines Ward was named Super Bowl MVP, catching 5 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 18 yards.
Pittsburgh finished the 2008 season with the second best record in the AFC at 12–4. The defense led the NFL in fewest points (13.9) and yards (237.2) allowed per game, while also ranking second in sacks with 51 thanks to James Harrison, who led with 16 sacks to become the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. In the playoffs, Pittsburgh started with a 35–24 win over the San Diego Chargers, then went on to beat, for the third time in the season, their AFC North division arch-rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, 23–14.
With Raymond James Stadium as the backdrop, the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals at Super Bowl XLIII to win their record sixth Super Bowl championship. With the second half drawing to a close and Arizona driving, James Harrison intercepted a pass and returned it for a 100-yard touchdown to end the half, helping the Steelers take 17-7 lead. Arizona would comeback in the fourth quarter, taking the lead 23-20 until the final Steelers drive when Ben Roethlisberger threw the game-clinching 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, who would earn Super Bowl MVP for recording nine receptions for 131 yards and winning touchdown catch.