Q & A with Steelers and Clemson Legend Levon Kirkland


January 28, 1996, Super Bowl XXX would take place in Sun Devil Stadium. A game that would consist of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. The 95 and 96 Steelers defense was something incredible, which included players like Rod Woodson, Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, Greg Lloyd, and Levon Kirkland. Kirkland in that Super Bowl game put up a stat line that any defensive player would dream of having. In that game he recorded 10 tackles and a big interception in the loss against the Cowboys.

Kirkland had something about him that no other linebacker had at this time–weight. When in the NFL he is said to be listed at 275 pounds playing at the linebacker position. For comparison Steelers current All-Pro linebacker TJ Watt weighs a total of 235 pounds. Don’t be fooled, however, with how big Kirkland was. He was sure to fire off the ball and be a deadly threat to any quarterback he went against.

Levon Kirkland would be drafted by Pittsburgh in 1992 coming out of Clemson University where he would later join the school’s Hall of Honor, his name reigning for days to come. When drafted by the Steelers, they had high expectations for him as he would have to replace the Pro Bowler David Little.

Stat wise, Kirkland had a very good career earning honors of being a 2x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro, NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year, 2x Steelers Team MVP, 1990’s All Decade Team, An All-American, and being introduced into Clemson’s Ring of Honor. After retiring from the NFL, Kirkland decided to get into the field of coaching where he would join Florida A&M as a linebackers’ coach.  He then joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2015 as an outside linebackers’ coach where he will always be a coach for the great game of football.


Q:  Getting to go head to head against some NFL greats like John Elway and other great 90’s QBs, who stood out the most to play against?

A: Take your pick. Aikman, Elway, Marino, Steve Young, Steve McNair, Brett Farve, and Mark Burnell. Great guys.


Q: In Super Bowl XXX,  you had a pretty great performance putting up 10 tackles and 1 big sack on Troy Aikman.  What from that big stage do you remember the most?

A: How excited I was to be on the biggest stage. Having the opportunity to be a champion.


Q: Nowadays you have been doing some coaching, from being at Florida A&M to the Arizona Cardinals.  Is coaching a future you would like to keep up with?

A: I will always be a coach, but not always in the conventional way.


Q: Being a part of Clemson’s All Centennial Team to being a 2x Pro Bowler, what achievement in your career has most been exciting?

A: Probably being in the “Ring of Honor” at Clemson University. They put your name on the stadium.

Picture sent by Kirkland of his named hanging at Clemson’s Stadium for the Ring of Honor

Q:  As one of the league’s best linebackers in the 90’s, as well as playing in that dominant Steelers LB core, who would you compare yourself to playing like in today’s culture of football?

A:  I’m not sure if anyone is quite my weight. I would say Bobby Wagner.


Q:  Last question, to any kid out there, what would you want to say to them in pursuing a dream to have an NFL career like yours?

A: Go for it! Play different sports and you can’t have any doubt.