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1930s: THE FRANCHISE is born in 1933, and Duquesne tackle Ray Kemp joins the squad as its first black player. The team's diversity efforts ultimately lead to Joe Gilliam, one of the modern era's first black starting quarterbacks, in '74, and the introduction of 2002's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach openings.
1940s: AFTER GOING 2-7-2 in 1940, a discouraged Rooney sells the team and buys a half-interest in the Philadelphia Eagles. The arrangement lasts only a few months; Rooney swaps back his shares after the new Pirates owner threatens to move the team to Boston.... Coach Jock Sutherland leads the Steelers to a franchise-best 8-4 record and a piece of the Eastern Division title in '47, but they lose their first postseason game 21-0 to the Eagles. Sutherland dies the following April, just weeks after doctors find two tumors in his brain.
1950s: DEFENSIVE TACKLE Ernie Stautner makes his pro debut in 1950. A fixture on the Steelers' line for 14 years, Stautner is named to four All-NFL teams and, after his retirement in 1963, is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (His 70 jersey is Pittsburgh's only retired uniform number.) Stautner is voted to the first of nine Pro Bowls in '52—a year that also saw the return of head coach Joe Bach, who had left the team in 1936 after a 10-14 record in two seasons. He installs the T formation offense but doesn't fare much better, going 11-13.
1960s: A PARTNERSHIP with Robert Morris Junior College (now Robert Morris University) yields the NFL's first cheerleading squad, the Steelerettes, in 1961. The women, who wear knee-length skirts and hard hats in their first season, have to maintain a 2.0 GPA and are quizzed on their football knowledge. Socializing with the players is forbidden and could lead to dismissal from the squad. (The only exceptions are for photo ops.) The Steelers field the squad for 10 seasons before disbanding it permanently in 1970.
1970s: THE FRANCHISE'S best decade (four Super Bowl titles) begins with the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, which moves the Steelers from the NFL Century Division to the newly formed AFC Central. At the same time, Three Rivers Stadium replaces Pitt Stadium as the team's home.... In 1975 the Steelers roll to a 12-2 record and win a second consecutive championship. Three years later they go a franchise-best 14-2 en route to becoming the first team to win three Super Bowls. A fourth comes the next season, with Terry Bradshaw earning a second-straight MVP award.
1980s: IN 1982 the team celebrates its 50th anniversary and hosts its first home playoff game in three years. (The Steelers had a 6-3 record in a strike-shortened season.) But the excitement is short-lived, as Pittsburgh falls to San Diego 31-28 in what would be the Steelers' last home playoff game until '92. In '83 Pittsburgh wins its eighth division title but falls in the playoffs to the Los Angeles Raiders. The next season the Steelers go 9-7, win their ninth division crown and advance to the AFC Championship Game but lose to the Miami Dolphins 45-28.
1990s: CHUCK NOLL announces his retirement on Dec. 26, 1991, after 39 seasons in the profession, including the last 23 with the Steelers. (Only four men have coached one team for longer.) His successor, 34-year-old Bill Cowher, assumes control of the team as the NFL's youngest head coach. In 15 seasons Cowher, who began his pro coaching career at age 28 in Cleveland, goes 161-99-1, ranking him fourth among active coaches in career wins. In the '90s he leads the team to three AFC Championship Games and six playoff appearances.
2000s: ON FEB. 5, 2006, the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 to become only the third franchise (the 49ers and the Cowboys) with five Super Bowl titles. In the process second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, at 23 years and 11 months, becomes the youngest quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. His 98.6 passer rating ranks third among league passers during the regular season, and his back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game, in 2004 and '05, are the first for a second-year quarterback.