The Pittsburgh Steelers and the football community at large suffered a major blow late this past year as we learned of the sudden passing of Kevin Greene, the Hall of Fame linebacker who spent a decade and a half in the NFL, and yet was perhaps best remembered for his three-year stay with the Steelers, during which he helped the team reach Super Bowl XXX.
Greene, who finished his career with 160 sacks, third-most in the history of the NFL, and would eventually be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was 58 at the time of his passing, and though he was focusing at this point on being near his family, he continued to be engaged in the sport.
A recent interview with Morten Anderson surfaced shortly after Greene’s passing, which at one point became largely centered on his praise for T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ latest budding star at his position, and with which he remains associated.
“He looks to me to be the most complete linebacker in the NFL right now, whether inside or outside“, he said of Watt. “He rushes, plays the run hard, drops in coverage, hunts people with a hunter’s heart. I really liked the way he is playing. And I say that over Khalil Mack and Von Miller, or any of those guys like that, or any of the interior guys that you could mention. I really like him. And I know I’m a Steeler and maybe I’m being a little prejudiced there, but I really liked him and the way he operates”.
Watt was interviewed on Thursday after being voted the team’s MVP for the second year in a row, and he was asked if he had been familiar with the interview. “It’s very special. I didn’t see it at the time, but I saw it the past few days, people have been sending the video to me”, he said. “Just listening to somebody who was the best at what they did at the time, a Hall of Fame player, it’s awesome to hear someone say that”.
“It’s only my responsibility to keep my end up the bargain up and keep playing and keep performing”, he added. “I just want to leave a legacy here, not only individually, but as a team, and a guy like that left a hell of a legacy, so to hear someone say that about you is awesome, but it’s also a whole lot of responsibility that I’m willing to take on”.
Four years into his career, it’s fair to say that he is accomplishing that so far. He has recorded 49.5 sacks over his first four seasons, easily the best start to a career at the position in team history. He also has four interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and 59 tackles for loss.
Watt has made the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons, and will inevitably add a second straight first-team All-Pro honorific later this year. He is also one of the leading candidates to win the Defensive Player Award, an honor that Greene received in 1996 with the Carolina Panthers.