Tunch Ilkin
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Tunch Ilkin
Tunch Ilkin
Tunch ilkin thumb.png
No. 62, 79
Position:Offensive tackle
Personal information
Born: (1957-09-23) September 23, 1957 (age 63)
Istanbul, Turkey
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:263 lb (119 kg)
Career information
College:Indiana State
NFL Draft:1980 / Round: 6 / Pick: 165
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:177
Games started:143[1]
Player stats at NFL.com

Tunch Ilkin (born Tunç Ali ?lkin, September 23, 1957 in Istanbul) is a Turkish American sports broadcaster and a former American football player. He currently serves as a television and radio analyst for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is distinguished as being the first Turk to play in the National Football League.


Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Ilkin's parents Mehmet and Ayten Ilkin emigrated to the United States when he was two years old and settled in the Chicago area. He attended Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois where he won All Conference and All County honors as a football player. In 1975, he was granted an athletic scholarship to Indiana State University. He was chosen by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft.[2]

He played offensive tackle for the Steelers from 1980 to 1992, earning two Pro Bowl appearance honors (1988 and 1989). He played for the Green Bay Packers in 1993 before retiring from football. He served as Vice-President of the NFL Player's Association from 1989 to 1994.

After retiring from football, Ilkin began appearing as a commentator and sports reporter on sports broadcasts in the Pittsburgh market. His popular segment, titled Lunch with Tunch, featured interviews with Steeler players and coaches.

Ilkin worked as a game analyst for NBC during the 1995 NFL season. He was paired with either Dan Hicks or Jim Donovan

In 1998, he joined the official Steelers broadcasting team of Myron Cope and Bill Hillgrove as an analyst. After Cope's retirement following the 2004 season, the team decided not to replace Cope and Ilkin took on the color-commentary duties once carried by Cope. He worked alongside sideline reporter and former teammate Craig Wolfley, who like Ilkin joined the Steelers via the 1980 draft. Ilkin and Wolfley hosted a morning radio show called In The Locker Room with Tunch and Wolf on WBGG. The show was cancelled in the summer of 2006. The show now appears daily during the football season on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh.[3]

Ilkin works as an analyst on the Pittsburgh affiliate of Fox Sports Net and has written articles for NFLHS.com, a website for football fans. He is the Senior Vice President of the Athletic Training Network, a company that provides athletic training and program material to coaches and players.

Tunch Ilkin was married on April 24, 1982 to Sharon Senefeld, and they had three children: Tanner, Natalie, and Clay.[4] The Ilkins resided in Upper St. Clair, PA. On February 6, 2012, Sharon Ilkin died after a lengthy battle with cancer.[5] In 2013, Ilkin remarried, to Karen Rafferty.[6] A convert from Islam to Christianity, Tunch Ilkin is the Pastor of Men's Ministry for The Bible Chapel, a multi-site church in the south hills of Pittsburgh.[7][8]

In 2007, Tunch became a Limited Partner and Spokesperson for LIFExpo, a Health, Sports and Fitness expo started in Pittsburgh by Managing Partners: Ed Foutz, Tim Gerwing, Michael M. Kadrie and Rob Young.[9]

In August 2008, Ilkin began working with Riverset Credit Union of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The credit union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative.[10]

In a November 2013 visit to Turkey he took part at the activities of the Istanbul Cavaliers, and was interviewed by the sports newspaper Fanatik. Ilkin said in that interview that he would like to coach an American football team in Turkey.[11]

On October 9th, 2020, Tunch Ilkin announced that he was living with ALS.


  1. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/I/IlkiTu00.htm
  2. ^ [1] accessed 17 Feb 2007
  3. ^ {http://www.970espn.com/pages/tunch_wolf.html}[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5][permanent dead link]""I grew up Muslim, but by college considered myself an atheist... "As a Muslim Turk I grew up with a scales mentality in which God would weigh your good versus your bad in determining if you spent eternity in his kingdom," Tunch says. "But these teammates told me about God who loved me enough to hang on a cross and do for me what I could never do for myself--pay the price for my sins."
  8. ^ Staff | The Bible Chapel
  10. ^ [6]
  11. ^ http://www.fanatik.com.tr/2013/11/01/nflde-oynamis-ilk-ve-tek-turk-tunc-ilkin-340874

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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