The Steelers and why, here's why!
 The early years: Decades of futility
The Pittsburgh NFL team, usually known as the Pirates, first took to the field on September 20, 1933, losing 23-2 to the New York Giants. Through the 1930s the Pirates never finished higher than second place in their division, or with a record better than .500 (1936). Pittsburgh did make history in 1938 by signing Byron White, a future justice on the U.S. Supreme Court to what was at the time the biggest contract in NFL history, but he only played one year with the Pirates before signing with the Detroit Lions. The Pirates changed their name to the "Steelers" before the 1940 season.
After the 1940 season, Art Rooney sold the Steelers to Alexis Thompson and bought a 50% stake in the Philadelphia Eagles from owner Bert Bell. After Rooney got homesick and Thompson wanted to be closer to his East Coast business interests, the Bell/Rooney Eagles and the Thompson Steelers swapped franchise territory. Bell/Rooney's Eagles' corporate organization, including most of the players, moved to Pittsburgh and Thompson's Steelers moved to Philadelphia, leaving only the team nicknames in their original cities. (In fact, the "new" Steelers' corporate name remained "Philadelphia Football Club, Inc." until 1945.) Since NFL franchises are territorial rights distinct from individual corporate entities, the NFL does not consider this a franchise move and considers the current Pittsburgh Steelers as a single unbroken entity from 1933. Rooney regained majority control in the Steelers in 1946, when Bert Bell sold his interest in the team upon becoming the NFL Commissioner. Art Rooney emerged with 58% of the club, while Rooney's brother-in-law, Barney McGinley, became a 42% owner. The Rooney family has since purchased half of the McGinley shares.
In 1942 the Steelers posted their first winning season in franchise history, going 7-4 (good for second place in the Eastern Division) behind Bill Dudley's league-leading 696 yards rushing.
During World War II, the Steelers experienced player shortages. They twice merged with other NFL franchises in order 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". This team went 5-4-1. In 1944 they merged with the Chicago Cardinals and were known as "Card-Pitt" and informally known as the "Car-Pitts" or "Carpets". They went winless through the season. The Steelers went solo again for the 1945 season and went 2-8. Dudley was back from the war by the 1946 season and became league MVP. The rest of team did no better as the Steelers stumbled down the stretch and finished 5-5-1.
The Steelers made the playoffs for the first time in 1947, tying for first place in the division at 8-4 with the Philadelphia Eagles. This forced a tie-breaking playoff game at Forbes Field, which the Steelers lost 21-0. Because of the Steelers and Eagles being placed in different conferences after the 1970 merger between the NFL and the AFL, the game marks the only time that the two major Pennsylvania cities have played each other in the NFL playoffs. Quarterback Johnny Clement actually finished second in the league in rushing yardage with 670.
That would be Pittsburgh's last playoff game for 25 years. In the 1948 offseason, coach Jock Sutherland died. The team struggled through the season (one quarterback, Ray Evans, threw 17 interceptions to only five touchdowns) and finished 4-8. The team once again faded down the stretch in 1949 after a strong start, ending with a 6-5-1 record. That was followed up in 1950 with a 6-6 season, and consecutive losing seasons in 1951 (4-7-1) and 1952 (5-7).
After a 6-6 season in 1953 and 5-7 season in 1954, the Steelers drafted Johnny Unitas in 1955. Cut by the Steelers in training camp, Unitas later resurfaced as a Super Bowl hero - with the Baltimore Colts. Pittsburgh suffered through yet two more losing seasons before a 6-6 campaign in 1957 in the first season for coach Buddy Parker. 1957 saw one other highlight, the hiring of the NFL's first African American coach, Lowell Perry as the Steelers receivers coach.
Early in the 1958 season the Steelers traded for quarterback Bobby Layne, who led the Detroit Lions to two NFL championships. The results were immediate, with the Steelers posting a winning record (7-4-1) for the first time in nine years - though they were still two games out of a playoff spot. The Steelers finished above .500 again with a 6-5-1 record in 1959. After a 5-6-1 season in 1960, Rudy Bukich took over the starting QB job during the 1961 season, but fared no better. Pittsburgh finished 6-8.
The Steelers introduced the famous "astroid" logo, based on that of the Steelmark used by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), in time for the 1962 season. Bobby Layne returned to the full-time starting quarterback position, and running back John Henry Johnson had the best season of his career with 1,141 yards (second in the NFL). Pittsburgh shored up on defense too, picking up Clendon Thomas from the Los Angeles Rams; he led the team with seven interceptions. Ernie Stautner anchored the defensive line. The Steelers had their best season yet, finishing 9-5. This was good for second place in the division, and a spot in the Playoff Bowl, which matched up the #2 teams in the NFL's two divisions. The Steelers lost that game, 17-10, to the Detroit Lions.
Ed Brown became quarterback in time for the 1963 season after Layne retired. Pittsburgh finished 7-4-3, but in a hotly contested Eastern Division, that only allowed the Steelers a 4th-place showing. Ernie Stautner retired after the season.
The next few years were total disasters for the Steelers. Another 1000-yard season for John Henry Johnson was the only bright spot in a lackluster 1964 season that ended in a 5-9 record. Another retirement stung the team, this one of coach Buddy Parker. The wheels totally fell off in 1965, when the team finished at a league-worst 2-12. Over the next four years, the Steelers never finished higher than 5-8-1 (1966), with the team using eight quarterbacks between 1965 and 1969.
Indicative of the Steelers' struggles is the fact that Western Pennsylvania has long been an area producing fine quarterbacks, but the Steelers had never managed to keep them. Unitas was a native of Pittsburgh, making his later success even more jarring to Steeler fans. George Blanda came from the Pittsburgh area, but the Steelers never signed him. The nearby town of Beaver Falls produced Babe Parilli and later Joe Namath, who became stars in the American Football League, with Namath later joining Unitas and Blanda in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Steelers never signed the Beaver Falls natives, either. They did sign another future Hall-of-Famer, Ohio native Len Dawson, but would let him go as well, before he began a great career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Jack Kemp, a Los Angeles native, was also on the Steelers' roster before being cut. Like Blanda, Parilli, Namath, and Dawson, he became a star in the AFL in the 1960s, as the Steelers went downhill until finally drafting and signing Louisiana native Terry Bradshaw in 1970. By the time Western Pennsylvania had also produced future Hall-of-Famers Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, Bradshaw and his teammates had long since turned the Steelers from a laughingstock into one of the NFL's most successful and beloved franchises.
 The 1970s: The Steel Curtain Dynasty
Their luck changed with the hiring of coach Chuck Noll in early 1969, though he too won only a single game in his inaugural season (their worst since 1941), defeating the Detroit Lions in the season opener before losing the next 13 games. Joe Paterno had turned down the job before it was offered to Noll.
Their luck also continued when they won a coin toss with the Chicago Bears after the 1969 season (both teams went 1-13 in the 1969 season, with the Bears' lone win coming at the Steelers' expense) to gain the rights to draft Louisiana Tech superstar Terry Bradshaw with the first selection in the 1970 NFL Draft.
Noll's most remarkable talent was in his draft selections, taking "Mean" Joe Greene in 1969, Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount in 1970, Jack Ham in 1971, Franco Harris in 1972, and in 1974, selected Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Jack Lambert. This group of players formed the base of one of the greatest teams in NFL history.
1970 was a turning point year for the Steelers. The team, along with the Cleveland Browns (with whom the intense "Turnpike Rivalry" developed) and the Baltimore Colts, joined the former American Football League (AFL) teams in the new American Football Conference (AFC), following the AFL-NFL merger that year. The Steelers moved into Three Rivers Stadium, and Terry Bradshaw, picked first overall in the draft, started at quarterback. Myron Cope, thought by many as a Pittsburgh institution, entered the broadcast booth for a 35-year career as a Steelers radio commentator. The initial results, though an improvement over the late 1960s, were still unimpressive: a 5-9 record in 1970, followed by 6-8 in 1971.
1972, however, was the breakthrough year, and the beginning of an NFL dynasty. Rookie Franco Harris joined the team and ran for 1,055 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Pittsburgh finished 11-3, first place in the AFC Central, and made the playoffs for the first time since 1947.
Their first playoff game, against the Oakland Raiders, at Three Rivers Stadium, featured one of the best-known plays in league history: the Immaculate Reception. On 4th down from the Pittsburgh 40-yard line with 22 seconds left and trailing 7-6, Bradshaw threw a pass intended for John "Frenchy&qu