Furness, Steve : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Furness, Steve

Stephen Robert Furness

Furness was an important member of the greatest defense in the history of the NFL, as a member of Pittsburgh's legendary Steel Curtain of the 1970s. The fifth-round pick worked hard to succeed, and Mean Joe Greene said of Furness: "Any time we called upon Steve, he delivered." A convert to Judaism, Furness died of a heart attack in February, 2000, at the age of 49.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. December 5, 1950 - d. February 10, 2000

Career Highlights:
After a superb career at Rhode Island, Furness was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round (113th overall) of the 1972 NFL Draft. In his third season, Furness backed up defensive tackle Ernie Holmes as the Steelers had a record of 10-3-1 and won the first of their four Super Bowls, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 16-6. The Steelers repeated as Super Bowl champs the following year, beating the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17.

In 1977, Furness replaced Holmes on the defensive line and led the team in sacks with a career high 8 1/2. The Steelers won two more Super Bowls (1978 and 1979) as Furness remained a team leader on defense. Following the 1980 season, he was released by Pittsburgh. Steve played one more season, appearing in nine games for the Detroit Lions. He retired following the 1981 season, having played in a total of 106 career NFL games.

After his playing career was over, Steve became an assistant coach at Michigan State from 1983-1990, and a line coach with the Indianapolis Colts in 1991. In 1992, he returned to Pittsburgh as defensive line coach for the Steelers, but was released after the 1993 season. Furness's 32.0 sacks is still No. 10 on the Steelers all-time sack list. In 1987, Steve was inducted into the Rhode Island Athletic Hall of Fame.

Providence, Rhode Island

Career Dates:
Furness played at Rhode Island University from 1969-1971. He then played as a defensive end and tackle in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1972-1980, and with the Detroit Lions in 1981.

Physical description:
6'4", 225 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Sacks: 32
Fumble recoveries: 1

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Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)

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