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Joe Greene

Football Is War

In the 1969 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers took Greene as the fourth overall pick by the team's new coach, Chuck Knoll. Steelers fans, already soured by years of losing, bemoaned the selection of an unheard-of player from an unheard-of school. The local newspaper headline read: "Joe Who?" For his part, Greene was about as excited to go to Pittsburgh as Pittsburgh was to have him, and Greene didn't endear himself to the Steelers organization immediately, either. He held out for a larger contract, and when he finally showed up at training camp, he was out of shape and overweight.

It wasn't long, however, before Greene had proved his worth on the field and became a favorite of Steelers fans, who loved his passionate, aggressive play. On the field Greene's emotions often got out of control, and he was ejected from two games during his rookie year. Stories of Greene's antics became legend. Once he threw his helmet at the goalpost so hard it broke into pieces. During one game he came off the sidelines to spit full in the face of hall of fame linebacker Dick Butkus, because the Chicago Bears' defense was humiliating the Steelers' offense. Greene got particularly upset if he felt he was being held by offensive linemen and would explode with punches, kicks, and late hits. In a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Greene became so frustrated that the officials weren't calling any holding penalties against the Eagles that he grabbed the ball before the Eagles' center could snap it, threw it into the stands, and stomped off the field. After a moment the stunned crowd erupted into cheers.

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