Tunch Ilkin, two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman and longtime Steelers broadcaster died Saturday following a battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), commonly know as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 63.
Ilkin was drafted by Pittsburg in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL draft. He spent 13 years with the Steelers and completed his final season in the league with the Green Bay Packers.
After his playing career, Ilkin returned to the Steelers organization as a color analyst for 23 years. He announced his retirement in June to focus on treatment.
Ilkin also served as a vice president of the NFL players Association from 1989 to 1994.
“We are heartbroken by the passing of Tunch Ilkin. He was a man of faith who dedicated his entire life to being a devout Christian and family man,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a team statement. “His passion for the game of football was evident in his everyday life. As a player, he fought his way through tough times of being cut and injured, but continued to make an impact as a leader of our offensive line and made two Pro Bowls.
“After his playing career, Tunch continued to make an impact in our community in so many ways. His efforts and dedication to the Light of Life was unparalleled, and his desire to always help others made everyone appreciate him.”
Condolences from Steelers fans include praises from current defensive end Cam Heyward.
“Today we lost a heck of a person but God gained an unbelievable angel,” Heyward said on Instagram. “Your love, faith, candor, and strength will be remembered forever. I’m lucky enough to have talked and got to know you. May you be at peace brother.”
In July, the Steelers announced Ilkin would be inducted into the team’s Hall of Honor, set to take place in November.