Discover the history behind the Steelers dynasty and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Steelers’ first world championship in Super Bowl IX.
Professional football traces its roots to Pittsburgh when in 1892, the Allegheny Athletic Association football team paid former Yale University All-American guard Pudge William “Pudge” Heffelfinger $500 to play against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Forty years later, Art Rooney Sr. founded Pittsburgh’s first professional franchise, first known as the Pirates and later renamed the Steelers. Today, the Steelers’ six Super Bowl trophies are more than any other NFL team, helping to secure an unmatched legacy of professional football in Pittsburgh.
Visitors to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum can experience the region’s proud football legacy, from Friday Night Lights through Steelers Sundays. Explore how Western Pa. became a hot bed for high school and college football, producing nearly 50 professional quarterbacks along with four Heisman Trophy winners and dozens of All-Americans. See game-worn uniforms and equipment from the Steelers’ six Super Bowl championships. Try on a Super Bowl ring, make a perfect pass to Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, and wave your Terrible Towel in a special section dedicated to the passionate fan base known as Steelers Nation.
- The Immaculate Reception: The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is THE home of the greatest play in NFL history. Relive the Immaculate Reception on the Sports Museum’s jumbo video screen and see the Three Rivers Stadium field turf where Franco Harris made his legendary catch-and-run to beat the Oakland Raiders in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, changing the franchise’s fortunes forever. Don’t miss Franco’s cleats from the play and a lifelike museum figure depicting the unforgettable catch.
- Cradle of Quarterbacks: Is it something in the water? Western Pennsylvania has produced nearly 50 professional quarterbacks, more than any region in the country. From Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana to Dan Marino, discover what makes the region a sanctuary for signal callers.
- Women in Professional Football: Football isn’t just for the boys. Learn about professional women’s football in the region and see artifacts from the Pittsburgh Powderkegs and Passion teams.
Learn about Western Pennsylvania’s incredible impact on football as part of these KQV Radio History Minutes recorded by History Center President and CEO Andy Masich.
The Birthplace of Pro Football
The Immaculate Reception
On Display Now: Thomas Tull Steelers Jersey Collection
The Sports Museum’s football exhibition now features a special collection of game-worn Steelers jerseys on loan from Thomas and Alba Tull.
The Tull jersey collection includes Hall of Famers such as Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Rod Woodson, as well as the man known as much for his gold shoes as his fierce defensive play, L.C. Greenwood.
The new display also features jerseys from modern-day stars like James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Hines Ward, and Ben Roethlisberger, along with a pair of game-worn signed shoes from Bradshaw and signed shoes and gloves from Roethlisberger.
Artifact Spotlight: Franco’s Super Bowl IX Ring
Out of the 333 total offensive yards the Steelers generated in Super Bowl IX, Franco Harris accounted for a record 158 of them – more than the entire Minnesota Viking offense. He scored the first of two touchdowns in the Steelers’ 16-6 victory and was named Most Valuable Player. This ring, on display in the Sports Museum, was made by Jostens for the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.
Watch Andy Masich discuss Harris’s Super Bowl ring in this video from the Pittsburgh Steelers.