PITTSBURGH — Longtime Steelers broadcaster and former player Tunch Ilkin died on Saturday, WPXI’s Alby Oxenreiter has confirmed with three sources.
Ilkin was diagnosed with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, in October 2020. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the wasting away of muscle and loss of movement.
The team released a statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II:
“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. 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. He was loved by his family, teammates, and friends. We were fortunate to have Tunch as a player and broadcaster for so many years. Our condolences to his entire family during this difficult time.”
According to the Steelers, Ilkin was a two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle and played 14 seasons in the NFL. He spent the last 23 years behind the radio microphone.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald issued a statement Saturday afternoon, saying: “It is a sad day for Pittsburgh with the passing of Tunch Ilkin. When the Steelers drafted him four decades ago, they brought to Pittsburgh a great football player, but also someone who contributed much more to our community than his athletic talents. His work with Light of Life and other initiatives in helping the homeless and others in need was tremendous. While he did not grow up here, he embraced our town, raised his family here and continued to make Pittsburgh a better place. His contributions to our community will be missed. I hope it is a comfort to his family, what a great legacy he left. My deepest condolences to his family.”
Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert has released the following statement on the passing of former Pittsburgh Steelers player and broadcaster, Tunch Ilkin:
“I am completely heartbroken and numb at the passing of Tunch Ilkin. I consider myself blessed to call him a friend and mentor. I’m a better cop and human being because of his unconditional love, faith, and guidance.
My prayers are with the family and all who had the pleasure of knowing Tunch. He’s made an impact on the lives of so many people and Pittsburgh is a better place because of his love for humanity. I will forever remember how he lived his life and how he courageously battled ALS with hope, faith, love, and compassion.
He never gave up and always put his faith in his savior the Lord. I take solace in knowing that he is finally at peace and his legacy will continue to make a difference in the lives of others.
God bless, Tunch. You are loved and missed.” --- Chief Scott Schubert, PIttsburgh Bureau of Police.
©2021 Cox Media Group