Tunch Ilkin Biography – Tunch Ilkin Wiki
Tunch Ilkin was a Turkish-born American former American football player and sports broadcaster. Ilkin became the first player of Turkish descent to play in the NFL when the Steelers made him a sixth-round choice in the 1980 NFL Draft. He played for the Steelers for 13 years (1980-92) and for a 14th season with the Green Bay Packers in 1993.
Tunch Ilkin was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1957, and two years later he emigrated to the United States with his parents, Mehmet and Ayten Ilkin. After learning football at Highland Park High School and developing his skills further via a scholarship at Indiana State University, Ilkin became the first player of Turkish descent to play in the NFL when the Steelers made him a sixth-round choice in the 1980 NFL Draft, and he would take advantage of the opportunity to craft a storied career in professional football.
Ilkin played for the Steelers for 13 years (1980-92) and for a 14th season with the Green Bay Packers in 1993. A two-time Pro Bowl selection as an offensive tackle (1988-89), Ilkin also served as vice president of the NFL Players Association from 1989-94 during which time ownership and the union crafted and ratified the Collective Bargaining Agreement that tied free agency to a salary cap, a system still in place today and copied by the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.
Following his career as a player, Ilkin joined the media as a sports reporter on broadcasts in the Pittsburgh market, with his primary area of expertise being the Steelers and the NFL. As the popularity grew of a segment titled, “Lunch with Tunch,” Ilkin attracted national interest from NBC, and the network hired him as an NFL game analyst where he was paired with either Dan Hicks or Jim Donovan. But 1995 turned out to be his only season as a national NFL game analyst, because he learned he didn’t have a taste for criticizing players, especially when he was assigned to work a game featuring his beloved Steelers.
In 1998 he was added to the Steelers radio team where he worked with play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove and legendary color analyst Myron Cope. In addition to his role as the color analyst on the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Network, Ilkin also co-hosted a talk show with former teammate and sideline reporter Craig Wolfley called “Inside the Locker Room with Tunch and Wolf.” The show aired five days a week from the start of training camp until the Steelers season ended.
He also co-authored two books, titled “In the Locker Room” and “Forged In Steel,” and he often joked that the title of the never-written story of his NFL career would be: “Too Late for the Super Bowl Wins, and Too Early for Free Agency.”
On June 3, 2021, Ilkin announced his retirement from broadcasting to focus on his treatment for ALS. “I have had 37 years in the NFL, with 14 as a player and the last 23 in broadcasting as the color analyst on the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Network, and I’ve decided to retire,” said Ilkin at the time. “I was diagnosed with ALS in September 2020, and I want to spend this time focusing on my treatment and fighting this disease. I would like to thank Steelers President Art Rooney II, the Steelers organization, and the fans for their continued support and prayers at this time.”
In mid-June, Ilkin was elected to the Steelers Hall of Honor as part of the Class of 2021, along with former teammates Jon Kolb, Carnell Lake, and Louis Lipps. When the Steelers announced the members of that Class of 2021 on July 31, Ilkin attended that day’s training camp practice at Heinz Field, where he sat in the first row of the stands and undoubtedly joked about how much tougher a training camp practice was when he was a player.
Tunch Ilkin Age
Tunch Ilkin was born on September 23, 1957, in Istanbul, Turkey. He died on September 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was 63 years old.
Tunch Ilkin Wife
Who is Tunch Ilkin’s wife? Tunch Ilkin was married to Karen Rafferty. He was previously married to his first wife, Sharon Senefeld.
Tunch Ilkin Children
Tunch Ilkin had three children, Tanner (Jess) Ilkin, Natalie (Danny) Coale, and Clay (Kristin) Ilkin.
Tunch Ilkin Family
Tunch Ilkin was the son of Ayten and the late Mehmet Ilkin. He was the beloved husband of Karen; loving father of Tanner (Jess) Ilkin, Natalie (Danny) Coale; and Clay (Kristin) Ilkin; cherished son of Ayten and the late Mehmet Ilkin; and adored grandfather to Levi, Abbott, Brynn, Althea, and Connor. Ilkin was preceded in death by his first wife, Sharon.
Tunch Ilkin ALS
Tunch Ilkin was diagnosed with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, in September 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. On June 3, 2021, Ilkin announced his retirement from broadcasting to focus on his treatment for ALS.
Tunch Ilkin Death
Former Steelers’ offensive lineman and broadcaster Tunch Ilkin passed away at UPMC Mercy Hospital on September 4, 2021, at the age of 63 following a battle with ALS. He was hospitalized on Aug. 24 with pneumonia, according to his wife Karen. Pneumonia is among the leading causes of death for people with amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“We are heartbroken by the passing of Tunch Ilkin,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “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 every day 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.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin tweeted: “Today we lost an incredible man with the passing of Tunch Ilkin. Tunch was special, someone who impacted everyone he came in contact with, myself included. He loved his family, lived his faith, and serving others was his passion. My prayers go out to his family.”
Tunch Ilkin Cause of Death
Pittsburgh Steelers legend Tunch Ilkin died after he was diagnosed with ALS in September 2020.
Tunch Ilkin Net Worth
Tunch Ilkin’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million.
Tunch Ilkin Funeral
Funeral arrangements by Beinhauers. Friends are welcome at the South Hills Bible Chapel, 300 Gallery Dr., McMurray, Pa. 15317, on Monday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. A service to celebrate Tunch Ilkin’s life will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the South Hills Bible Chapel. For those who cannot attend, the service will be streamed live on biblechapel.org. Private interment will be in Bethel Cemetery. Memorial donations in Ilkin’s name may be made to Light of Life Rescue Mission, 913 Western Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15233.