Steelers legend dead at 80

It is often easy to overlook a very good player when he plays for a very bad team. No one, however, ever overlooked Ernie Stautner. And no one has forgotten him.

Stautner died Thursday in a nursing home in Carbondale, Colorado, his wife Jill Stautner said. Stautner was 80, and suffered from Alzheimer's disease since 1998.

Stautner spent his entire 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and never played for a winning team. But the undersized (6-foot-1, 235-pound) defensive lineman garnered plenty of attention with his tough, hard-nosed play and strong work ethic.

He went to nine Pro Bowls with the Steelers and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969. Of all the great players that have played for the organization since 1933, Stautner's No. 70 remains the only jersey number ever retired by the Steelers.

Stautner was the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line coach from 1966-72 and served as defensive coordinator from 1973-88.

Born in Germany, Stautner immigrated with his family to Albany, New York, at the age of three. Stautner played at Boston College after first serving in the Marines. He was the Steelers' third round pick of the 1950 NFL draft.

Stautner is survived by his wife, five daughters and six grandchildren.

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