Florida Center Maurkice Pouncey became the first Center to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1937. There is, as everyone knows, a great lineage of Centers to have played that position over the years for the Steelers. Starting with Mike Webster, Dirt Dawson, and then Jeff Hartings, between them they racked up 18 Pro Bowls. I was fortunate in my career to play with two of the three.
“Iron Mike” set the gold standard with his incredible work ethic, and to this day there may have never been a more consistently great player week in and week out than Mike. Webbie had gigantic hands, and a super strong grip and when he latched onto the chest plate of the nose tackles shoulder pads (sometimes also getting a handful of the players pectoral muscles) he wouldn’t let go. I remember a Miami player coming up to Mike after a game and lifting up his jersey and shoulder pads revealing “Webbie prints.” Bruises where Mike’s powerful fingers had clamped on. Having Mike on the field was like having your position coach right there next to you, so knowledgeable of the offense was he. The late Steelers Guard Steve Courson used to refer to Webbie as “The Dirty Trickster” for all the locker room pranks he pulled. One might find shaving cream in their shoes after practice or have to suffer through practice with an “Atomic Balm” laced jock strap burning like a “Fire Down Below.”
Dermontti was an incredible athlete, and literally pioneered the play of today’s modern Centers in a couple of ways. In Mike’s day, Centers never pulled out from the line of scrimmage and lead block on a sweep or off-tackle run. Dirt was so athletic and fast, he could snap the ball and get out on the search and destroy mission as fast as a Guard. Second, in Mike’s day we rarely left the Center alone to single block, but usually worked in tandem with a Guard. Dirt was as strong as he was fast and the coaches realized that he didn’t need any help and often let Dirt handle nose tackles by himself. Besides that, Dirt made the best Chocolate Chip cookies I ever tasted. Truly a gifted hog.
By all reports Pouncey sounds like he has an opportunity to stand next in line in the lineage of great Steelers Centers. Now maybe we get the Cornerback I’m looking for next!