A blur of a blonde mane, fierce intention, and uncommon tenacity, Kevin Greene’s historic levels of success have come more from determination and passion for the game than any otherworldly physical attribute.
He was an autumn character, who roared when he spoke and with his game, smiled ear to ear and had big eyes when a quarterback was near.
One of the most prolific passing throwers to ever grace the grill, Greene, a professional football Hall of Famer, has passed away. He was only 58 years old.
No cause of death has been announced.
Inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2016, Greene’s 15-season NFL career was highlighted by 160 sacks, the third-highest in the league.
“The entire Professional Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Kevin Greene,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. “I considered him a personal friend and a true Hall of Fame member in every sense of the word. He had the most incredible attitude of anyone I have ever met. He was a great player, but more than that, he was a great man. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin’s wife, Tara, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to inspire future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown on half of the staff in memory of Kevin. ”
In a historic and successful run in the NFL, Greene’s 15 seasons have seen him muster the aforementioned 160 sacks, which only trail Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198). Greene produced 10 breathtaking double-digit sack seasons that led to five Pro Bowls, two All-Pro caps and a spot on the Hall of Fame All-1990 squad.
Greene’s NFL career began with eight seasons in the Rams’ organizations after being selected in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft, but he would also have an impact with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers – playing three seasons each – also. He also played a season with the San Francisco 49ers.
“We lost an incredible player and person this morning with the passing of Kevin Greene. His sudden death came as a shock to all of us as he was a close friend and teammate to so many in the Steelers family, ”said Steelers president Art Rooney II. in a report. “When Kevin joined the Steelers in 1993, he made an immediate impact. Teamed up with Greg Lloyd, Kevin and Greg led a defense that became known as Blitzburgh and went on to play Super Bowl XXX. Kevin’s energy and enthusiasm inspired our team. as well as our fans.
“My condolences go out to Kevin’s wife, Tara, their children and the entire Greene family at this most difficult time. They will always be part of the Steelers family and in our thoughts and prayers. ”
A true success story driven by determination, Greene was a walk-on in Auburn before joining the Rams, where the future Hall of Famer didn’t start a game until his fourth season in the NFL in 1988, when he registered 16.5 sacks – a career high he matched the following season.
In 1993, Greene joined the Steelers and played a huge role in Pittsburgh’s eventual run to Super Bowl XXX, where the Steelers fell to the Cowboys. He moved to the Panthers to join head coach Dom Capers, who had been his defensive coordinator for two seasons in Pittsburgh, blossoming in the 3-4 pattern.
Greene’s greatness emerged throughout his career, a sackmaster who terrorized opposing quarterbacks and twice led the league in sacks, consistent in the chaos he created in the backfield, whatever his age.
Greene had seven seasons with double-digit sacks at age 30 or older, which tied Smith for most all-time sacks, and remains the only player with double-digit sacks for four teams. His final year of 1999 saw him total 12 sacks for the Panthers as he came out roaring.
Loud, physical and aggressive, Greene also got into professional wrestling, joining the ranks of World Championship Wrestling while still an active NFL player. He was larger than life, loud in everything he did in the arena.
He would also win a Super Bowl title as a linebacker coach with the Packers.
He played with a smile out of love for the game and out of love for the havoc it wreaked havoc. He was one of the biggest wild men in the NFL.