Retired Pittsburgh Steelers running back Sidney Thornton passed away last Wednesday at the age of 68. His cause of death was not announced.
“We are saddened by the loss of former Steelers RB Sidney Thornton,” his former team wrote in a statement issued on social media. Referred to in his prime back as the “Thundering Bull,” the professional athlete played his entire six-year NFL career with Pittsburgh from 1977 to 1982.
In the span of his career, he assisted the franchise in bringing home two Super Bowl championship titles in 1978 and 1979.
Thornton was a native of New Orleans and committed to Northwestern State in Louisiana, where he had a successful college football career. According to Northwestern State’s information director Doug Ireland, the running back made jaws drop due to his sheer strength. Ireland relayed that the former player “bench-pressed 450 pounds and dead-lifted over 600 pounds.”
During his time in college, the athlete set career records in rushing attempts (537), rushing touchdowns (25), and rushing yards (2,662). Although these records have since been broken, the player’s substantial impact on the football program is what landed him in Northwestern State’s Hall of Fame in 1986.
Reflecting on Sidney Thornton’s professional football career with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Following his college career, Thornton joined the NFL Draft in 1977, where he was selected by the Steelers in the second round as a 48th pick. On the road to the Super Bowl, Thornton was an advantage for the team, as he was backup behind Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.
Thornton’s 75-yard run in a 17-13 win over the Baltimore Colts served as the team’s longest play in the year 1979 and is largely credited as his best year playing professional football. In the 74 total games he played with the Steelers, he amassed 1,512 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. In addition, he had 46 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns by the end of his career.
Following his retirement from the sport, Thornton coached football at Coushatta High School (now Red River High School) in Coushatta, Louisiana.
After the Steelers announced the death of their former running back on Twitter, countless fans expressed their grief towards this substantial loss. One user even mentioned meeting the football star and described him as an upstanding citizen. “Sidney was always kind and a true gentleman,” Dr. James Smithton wrote.
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.