(Note: Defensive tackle Joe Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 after a stellar career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He faced Joe D four times when the guard was with the Buffalo Bills leading the way for Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson. Greene then battled DeLamielleure four more times in 1980 and 1981 when DeLamielleure was a member of the Cleveland Browns. The two will share the enshrinement stage on August 3rd when DeLamielleure is formally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Greene will be among the record number of Hall of Fame members on stage who are taking part in NFL Homecoming).
Joe, the first time we met on the field was in the 1974 playoffs in Pittsburgh. That was the first game that we played a defense that we hadn’t shown anybody. We knew we had to do something drastic because of you and your outstanding offensive line and the Juice. So we came up with a new front and we were able, for the most part, to contain your blocking schemes and limit O.J. to about 50 yards rushing, which is the reason we won the ball game.
You had good size and you were very athletic. You could move your feet well and were strong. So we really had to bring our “A” game if we were going to get by you because you were too strong to run over, and you were quick enough to adjust to any movement that we were making. You were very adept at pulling and leading O.J. around the corner.
Overall, playing against you Joe, I remember our games against you when you were with the Browns. It made it more difficult because we had to play you twice and you were such a high quality team. It made it more difficult. But during those times our mindset, individually and collectively, was that we wanted to play against the best. The best end up bringing out the best that you had to give. And, Joe you did bring out the best in me. The mental part of the game and the physical part of the game – you did well in both. From that aspect, you bode well in both categories.
Well, being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame puts a period on your career that you shared with other people. From the beginning to the end, the people that were influential in you deciding to be a football player, the people that supported you along the way – from junior high, high school, and college, to whatever level you played on into the pros – everybody that was important in your life. And, not necessarily just those playing on the field.
And, then you get to the Hall of Fame by working with those guys on the field, and the leadership of your coach. All of those play a big part in that. I know that I wouldn’t have been selected to the Hall of Fame if I had not been with some outstanding men on the field.
So, Joe with you coming in, it’s not a tribute to you, it’s a tribute to the people who were influential in your life – on and off the field.
Joe, I welcome you to the Hall of Fame. I don’t know if you really know what it means to be there. But, once you go to the Nitschke Memorial Luncheon you’ll understand. (editor’s note: the Nitscke Luncheon is an annual event during the Hall of Fame weekend. The private luncheon is attended only by Hall of Famers and it’s a time where the members of the Hall inform the newest class what it is like to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.) You’ll look around the room and you’ll see people that you watched as a kid, you see people that you competed against, you see people that you admire, and you’ll see some people you didn’t like very well.
But, you know you’re all on the same team now, and that’s what makes it special.
Welcoming Committee: Marcus Allen
Welcoming Committee: Elvin Bethea
Welcoming Committee: James Lofton
Welcoming Committee: Hank Stram