Signatures of Steel Curtain members on a seat from Three Rivers Stadium

The Steel Curtain was the defensive line of the 1970s American football team Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). The line was the backbone of the Steelers dynasty, which won four Super Bowls (IX, X, XIII, and XIV) in six years.[1]

The Steelers began their 1976 season 1–4 and lost their quarterback, Terry Bradshaw. For the nine games remaining in the season, the Steelers recorded five shutouts (three of them uninterrupted), and only allowed two touchdowns (both in a single game), and five field goals. The defense allowed an average 3.1 points per game and the team had an average margin of victory of 22 points. Eight of the Steelers' starting eleven defensive players were selected for the Pro Bowl that year, and four would be selected to the Hall of Fame.[2]


The Steel Curtain included:

Greene is the only surviving member of the line, with the deaths of Holmes and White in 2008 and Greenwood in 2013.

Origin of the legacy name

See also: List of NFL nicknames

The nickname "Steel Curtain", a play on the phrase "Iron Curtain" popularized by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, originated in a 1971 contest sponsored by Pittsburgh radio station WTAE to name the defense. The name was also a play on Pittsburgh's reputation for steel production. The contest was won by Gregory Kronz, a ninth grader at a suburban high school. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "he was just one of 17 people who submitted the 'Steel Curtain' moniker to the WTAE contest, necessitating a drawing for the grand prize," which Kronz won.[3] The term has also been used to refer to their defense as a whole during that time.[4]


The Steel Curtain roller coaster at Kennywood, which opened in 2019,[5] was named after the Steelers' defensive line.[6]


  1. ^ Battista, Judy (January 31, 2009). "Steelers' Defense Recalls Steel Curtain Memories". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  2. ^ NFL Network (2008-05-28). "Top 10 nicknames in NFL history". Archived from the original on 2013-12-14. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  3. ^ Ruth Ann Dailey (2006-01-30). "Steel Curtain seeks heavenly help". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  4. ^ "Sports E-Cyclopedia History of the Pittsburgh Steelers". Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  5. ^ "Roller Coaster Enthusiasts, Steelers' Fans Take Inaugural Ride On Kennywood's The Steel Curtain". CBS News. July 12, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  6. ^ Levine, Arthur (October 23, 2018). "Pittsburgh Steelers-inspired roller coaster to open at Kennywood". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved October 31, 2018.