Walter Abercrombie: Running Wild With the Steelers
Walter Abercrombie was more than a great football player — he was a hard-core Steeler who embodied the spirit of Pittsburgh. If you’re unfamiliar with his outstanding career, it’s time to get to know this first-round pick for the Black and Gold.
Early Life and College Career
Born in Waco, Texas, Walter Abercrombie showed a natural athletic talent from a young age. He attended college at Baylor University, where his stellar play as a running back for the Bears left an indelible mark on the school’s football history. In his very first game, Abercrombie ran for 207 yards, setting an NCAA record. He helped lead Baylor to the Peach Bowl in 1979, the Cotton Bowl in 1981, and the Southwest Conference championship in 1980.
During his career as a Bear, Abercrombie set school records for rushing yards, rushing attempts, 100-yard games, and yards per game — achieving a total of 3,665 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns. As the university’s all-time leading rusher, Walter was primed for a promising career in the NFL.
Professional Career With the Pittsburgh Steelers
In the 1982 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked Abercrombie in the first round with the twelfth overall selection. Initial reactions were mixed — some fans were ecstatic about his potential, while others wondered if he could fill the shoes of the legendary Franco Harris. While the expectations were high, Abercrombie was ready to meet them head-on.
Abercrombie’s rookie season was a solid one. He rushed for 430 yards and scored three touchdowns, showing flashes of brilliance that promised more. Over the years, he built up a reputation as a reliable running back for the Steelers. Walter was also a consistent backfield receiver, catching 139 passes during his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He ended his six-season stretch with the Steelers with 3,343 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
He certainly provided Steelers fans with some TV-worthy highlights while playing for the Steel Curtain. During a 1984 divisional playoff game against the Broncos in Denver, Walter ran for 75 yards and added 18 more receiving yards in the team’s 24-17 win — earning him a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His ability to find gaps in the defensive line and his relentless drive made him a valuable asset to the Steelers’ running game.
After leaving the Steelers in 1988, Abercrombie spent his final two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and retired in 1990. His body had taken a toll from the game’s physical demands, and he knew it was time to hang up his cleats.
Abercrombie returned to his alma mater, Baylor University, as the school’s athletic director. He also became an active member of the NFL Alumni Association, contributing to various initiatives geared toward improving the lives of former players. He also returned to his hometown of Waco, where he currently lives with his family.
Although his career may not be peppered with Super Bowl rings or Hall of Fame inductions, Walter’s legacy football legacy was about the things that matter most in the game — consistency, dedication, teamwork, and resilience. As a player, he gave his all every time he stepped onto the field, embodying the hard-nosed, blue-collar ethos of the Steelers.
Welcome Aboard, Walter Abercrombie!
The Legends of Pittsburgh Vacation is excited to welcome Walter Abercrombie to our 2024 lineup!