Joe Greene has been a fixture for the Pittsburgh Steelers for very nearly 50 years now since he was drafted by the struggling franchise in 1969, which signaled the beginning of change as the foundation piece for a dynasty that would win four Super Bowls in a span of six seasons in the coming decade.
Following his 13-year playing career, Greene eventually joined the Steelers’ coaching staff in 1987 for several seasons. He returned to Pittsburgh in the front office in 2004 after spending over a decade coaching elsewhere in the league, and only formally retired from his position in 2013, yet still aids the team now and then.
This is all just background to provide you with the fact that Joe Greene’ opinion holds a lot more value than most any other former player. Few in the history of the game have had the singular impact on a franchise over a period of several decades as he, and so when he offers up an opinion. It gets taken seriously.
He recently penned an autobiography, titled “Mean Joe Greene, Built by Football”, and was the subject of an interview about that and other topics related to the current status of the team conducted by Ed Bouchette for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And boy did he have some opinions about that.
Greene has already made his thoughts known previously this offseason about Antonio Brown’s non-football antics, but he went further to say that it’s more widespread on the team. “We got guys who like to showboat”, he said, “and they owe themselves better than that. You only have so long to play this game, it’s not always going to be there, you know. You have to max out”.
He considered the Steelers’ 2016 season “lost”, citing Martavis Bryant’s suspension as a big factor in that. “I can only imagine what would have happened had all our weapons been there”, he said. Bryant is hoping to hear within the next week about being reinstated.
He had a solution, of course. “We need someone in there who epitomizes what the Steelers are about and doesn’t mind picking up that gauntlet to be a Steeler and not be out there creating…their brand. You have to be a Pittsburgh Steeler first. You can’t create that act”.
Is it just me, or did your mind immediately turn toward Cameron Heyward when you read that?
Greene is still optimistic about his team this year, in large part because of his faith in Ben Roethlisberger, because “the most important thing for him is winning. Anybody who is watching it can see it, see the difference in how he has emerged. It’s about age. It can happen”.
He also gave his thoughts on the draft, and praised the Steelers’ best talent available strategy that they try to adhere to. But he did concede that “we would be fortunate if one of those guys happen to be an outstanding pass rusher or the term they use today, a ‘shutdown cover guy’, or a guy who plays in the middle who reminds everyone of Troy Polamalu”.
I think we can all live with that.