When a player is drafted by a team, there is a certain understanding there that the union has the potential to change a life. When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Joe Greene in the first round, it helped change the course of an entire industry, let alone a single franchise. And it certainly changed Greene’s life, who reflected on his time with the Steelers following the draft.
“It would have been a gigantic mistake for me not to be a Pittsburgh Steeler”, he said, speaking to the team’s website.
Joe Greene looks back on his career in Pittsburgh, and re-lives some of his favorite moments on the field. pic.twitter.com/xCl6gZi2vX
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2017
“Having the opportunity to work for an outstanding organization, the Rooneys, and be coached by Chuck Noll, and be joined by and preceded by obviously some fantastic players”, he said, is what he recalled from his time playing in Pittsburgh.
“We had great camaraderie”, he said of the bond with his teammates. “We had a great time playing football here in Pittsburgh. We had a great locker room and we practiced hard because we had that coach that wouldn’t settle for anything less”.
Noll pushed hard, but he was right to. “Over the course of time we found out that that was the best way”, Greene recalled. “My very, very first day Chuck said, ‘our goal this year is to win the Super Bowl’. There were some chuckles going on in that room. A couple of them got cut because of it”, he concluded with a chuckle.
“He wasn’t talking about, obviously, that season, but every year the goal is to win. And ultimately, as you know, we got there”. Of the culture and system, the team put in place in Pittsburgh, Green described it was “perfect. It was perfect. And I was the oldest out of all those guys, but not much, so we kind of grew up together, we learned the Chuck Noll way together”.
The Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle recalled on meeting in particular ahead of the 1974 AFC Championship game. “It was a full-team meeting and Chuck was in front of the group”, he said, and the Steelers were preparing to play John Madden’s Raiders. “The two best teams play today. This is the Super Bowl”, Madden announced.
Noll stood up in front of the room and said after beating the Raiders, “’Well, fellas, the Super Bowl wasn’t played yesterday. It’s going to be played in two weeks, and the best team in football is sitting here right in this room’. Everybody just let out a big whoop and it was a done deal”.
Greene also recalled his emotions on that sideline at the end of the game as they punched their ticket to New Orleans in Tulane Stadium, where Super Bowl IX was held. “Standing on the sideline, we got the ball and the clock’s ticking away”, he recalled as he looked on at his teammates. “And that was just about the best feeling I ever had”, he spoke through emotion. “It was us going to the Super Bowl and our history all in the same mix”, he described as the culmination of a five-year journey from star rookie on a one-win team to Super Bowl contender.
At the end of the interview, he got philosophical about the game of football. “Football for me was the thrill of the hunt. We were hunting each other. I’m hunting you and you’re hunting me”.
“And in doing so we’re playing the game of our lives”, he said. “And what happens? I play my best, they play their best, we get a great contest. That’s football, to me, as it should be”. And that’s what Steelers football was and strives to be.