I was watching a replay of the New York Jets vs the San Francisco 49ers from week 1 of 1998 on the NFL Network the other day because I am a lazy human being. It was the game where Garrison Hearst rushed for a 96 yard touchdown in overtime to win it for the 49ers. A young second year linebacker named James Farrior started for the Jets that day against the likes of Jerry Rice and Steve Young. He wore number 58 that day, but would switch to number 51 in 2002 when he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. He went on to lead some great defenses over the rest of his stellar career.
Farrior was probably one of the greatest free agent acquisitions the Steelers have ever made. He was the 8th overall pick in the 1997 draft, earned All-Pro honors twice with the Steelers and was a significant contributer on two Super Bowl Championship teams. Farrior was released by the Steelers earlier this off-season, and at 37 years old his agent announced last week that he is contemplating retirement. That is a very real possiblity and I hope he is remembered by Steeler fans as one of the best in a very long line of great Steeler Linebackers. I enjoyed watching him play and will always regard him as such.
He sits at number 6 on SmorgasBurgh’s Top 10 List of All-Time Great Steeler Linebackers:
10. Levon Kirkland – Was remarkably quick for 270 lbs. A great run-stopper but also had 11 INTs over his 11 seasons.
9. Jason Gildon – The all-time sack leader for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
8. Kevin Greene – 3rd all-time NFL sack leader. Would be higher on this list, but only played 3 years for the Steelers.
7. Joey Porter – A vocal leader for the defense. Named to Steelers 75th anniversary team.
6. James Farrior – Defensive captain for 8 straight years. Played in 3 Super Bowls.
5. Andy Russell – Made 7 Pro-Bowls over his 12 year career.
4. James Harrison – 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. Scored the best defensive TD in a Super Bowl ever.
3. Greg Lloyd – 5 consecutive pro-bowls. Would be HOFer if he didn’t endure serious injuries to begin and end his career.
2. Jack Ham – Hall of Famer with 4 Super Bowl rings, regarded as one of the best outside linebackers ever.
1. Jack Lambert – Another Hall of Famer with 4 Super Bowl rings. He barely edges out Jack Ham for the top spot.
Fans of Chad Brown and Mike Merriweather can leave a comment telling me I’m a dick.