After 13 years as a player and 23 more as a broadcaster, Tunch Ilkin has been included in the Steelers’ fifth Hall of Honor induction class. A beloved figure in Pittsburgh, Ilkin announced his retirement from the team’s broadcast booth earlier this summer in order to focus on his fight against ALS.
“Obviously, we’re all thinking and praying for Tunch every day,” team president Art Rooney II said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “To have him part of the class this year makes it even more special.”
A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Ilkin’s family moved to the United States when he was 2. Ilkin played college football at Indiana State at the same time Larry Bird starred on the hardwood for the Sycamores. A sixth-round pick in the 1980 draft, Ilkin joined a Steelers team that was coming off their fourth Super Bowl win in six years. Despite stiff competition, Ilkin made the team and eventually became a starter at both right and left tackle. His play in 1984 helped the Steelers advance to the AFC Championship Game. He closed out the decade with consecutive Pro Bowl berths while helping win Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll’s final playoff game in 1989.
Here’s a look at the other three players who will join Ilkin in the Steelers’ 2021 Hall of Honor class. The 2020 and ’21 Hall of Honor classes will be inducted when Pittsburgh hosts the Lions in Week 10.
OT Jon Kolb (1969-81): A member of Noll’s first draft class, Kolb made 138 regular season starts at left tackle. He provided sterling protection of Terry Bradshaw while opening holes for running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. Kolb was a member of each of the Steelers’ four Super Bowl team during the 1970s.
DB Carnell Lake (1989-98): The versatile Lake earned multiple Pro Bowl selections at both strong safety and cornerback during his decade with the Steelers. A natural safety, Lake was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after switching to cornerback in 1995. Lake’s play that season helped the Steelers advance to Super Bowl XXX. In 1997, Lake became one of three safeties in NFL history to receive a league MVP vote.
WR Louis Lipps (1984-91): The 1984 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Lipps earned Pro Bowl berths during his first two seasons with the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s leading receiver on six different occasions, Lipps was also a lethal return man; he led the NFL In punt return yardage as a rookie and in punt returns for touchdowns in 1985. He was named team MVP in 1985 and 1989.