Category: Big 33 Football Classic Written by Toan Ngo Hits: 293
Meet Joe Greene
A 1968 consensus All-America at North Texas State, Joe Greene was Pittsburgh’s No. 1 pick in the 1969 National Football League Draft. Almost from his first game, the 6-4, 275-pounder showed the super-star talents that established him as the defensive foundation in Coach Chuck Noll's program that produced four AFC titles and four Super Bowl victories in the 1970s.
Playing left tackle, Greene was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969 when he received the first of his 10 Pro Bowl invitations. He was named All-NFL five times, and earned all-conference recognition 11 straight years from 1969 to 1979. In both 1972 and 1974, when Greene was selected as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Joe played a major role in his team's success.
He had career-high 11 sacks in 1972 when Pittsburgh reached the playoffs for the first time ever. In a must-win game against Houston, Greene recorded five sacks and a fumble recovery that assured victory for the injury-riddled Steelers.
In 1974, Pittsburgh won its first AFC championship and Super Bowl IX. That year, Greene developed the new tactic of lining up at a sharp angle between the guard and center to disrupt the opposition's blocking assignments. Against both Oakland in the AFC title game and Minnesota in Super Bowl IX, Greene was virtually unstoppable. Joe's pass interception and a critical fumble recovery at the Pittsburgh 5-yard-line were major factors in the demise of the Vikings.
Greene was armed with speed, quickness, strength and great determination and, at the peak of his career, could dominate a game almost single-handedly. A natural leader, he captained the Steelers' defensive unit beginning in 1977. Greene opened his career with a 91-game streak that was interrupted by injury in 1975. Durable, he played in 181 of a possible 190 regular-season games.