Kevin Greene passed away Monday. Greene was an huge part of the Blitzburgh Steelers of the nineties and SteelerNationUK were proud to have presented him with one of their annual MVP awards.
He was drafted by the Rams in 1985 and played for them until he became a free agent in1993. The NFL’s free agency began in 1993 and Greene decided to take advantage of the new flexibility the players had.
The Steelers had lost linebackers Hardy Nickerson to Tampa Bay and Jerrol Williams who signed with the Chargers that year and were looking to replace them. His eight years in Los Angeles saw him register a fruitful 72.5 sacks, which was one shy of L.C. Greenwood’s Steeler career record and it was something that would have attracted the Steelers attention.
Although his agent wanted him to go to Green Bay, Greene was keen to move to Pittsburgh. After meeting the Steelers officials, Greene enthused, “I want to go on record as saying I’d like to be a Pittsburgh Steelers and I hope things work out.” Linebacker coach Marvin Lewis reciprocated that enthusiasm saying of Greene, “He’s an outstanding rusher. He’s been very productive
The Steelers got their man and, together with Greg Lloyd on the opposite of the field, formed a pair of outside linebackers that were the bedrock of the Blitzburgh Steelers.
While he had a quiet start with his new team, in week 4 against Atlanta he exploded with two sacks and set the tone for his stay in Pittsburgh, finishing with 12.5 sacks on the season.
While the debate on offense revolved around the quarterback position, the defense was forging a solid reputation under Dom Capers. With Rod Woodson and Chad Brown in the secondary the defense proved to be a solid foundation for the team’s success that led to back-to-back Conference championship games.
In 1994, as Pittsburgh were putting together their best season for over a decade, the fans and pundits began to take notice of their vibrant defense. At the start of December, they were three sacks shy of breaking the team’s record of 52 sacks. The dynamic duo of Greene and Lloyd had almost half of that total (24).
Although not a replica of the Steel Curtain, the fans and media were keen to put a name to it. “Steel Trap” was a favoured suggestion, but Blitzburgh was gaining support as the blitzing linebackers continued to make an impression.
Pittsburgh’s zone blitzes threw opponents into confusion and indecision while they complied a seven-game winning streak, broken in the regular season finale when they lost by a field goal.
The team finished with 55 sacks in Greene’s first season and he contributed14. The following season he led the team for the third time with 9. He made a major impact during the three years he spent with the Steelers.
SteelerNationUK saw him play several times and the one off-field memory I have concerns his wife Tara. We took the Gateway Clipper for breakfast in before a game in 1994. While it was cruising, his wife saw one of our group wearing her husband’s jersey, so she gave him an autographed football card of her husband in appreciation of his support. A classy act.
Greene and Lloyd combined to introduce “Blitzburgh” into football history.
“Where else can you be responsible for renaming a town because of the style of defense you play?” asked Chad Brown in 1995. “Everywhere we go, all you hear is Blitzburgh this, Blitzburgh that. There’s a fever around here and it’s catching.”
The passion Steeler fans show for their team is appreciated around the world and the legacy of Blitzburgh is confirmation of it and the memory of Kevin Greene won’t fade.
It’s so sad to lose a warrior at such a young age. He was an outstanding trooper for the Steelers and an integral part of the legend that is the Blitzburgh Steelers.
His stay may have been short in Pittsburgh, but he endeared himself immensely to Steeler Nation and he was keen to enter the Hall of Fame as a Steeler when he was inducted in 2016.