Joe Greene

Class of 1987

9 years

All-Pro or All-AFC

Pro Bowls




"I just want people to remember me as being a good player and not really mean. I want to be remembered for playing 13 years and contributing to four championship teams. I would like to be remembered for maybe setting a standard for others to achieve.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

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 superstar 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 consecutive years from 1969 to 1979. In both 1972 and 1974, when Greene was selected as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he played a major role in his team's success.

He had career-high 11 sacks in 1972 when Pittsburgh reached the playoffs for the only the second time in franchise history and first since 1947. In a must-win game against Houston that season, Greene recorded five sacks and a fumble recovery that assured a 9-3 victory for the injury-riddled Steelers.

In 1974, Pittsburgh won its first AFC championship, followed by 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. His 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 he 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.

1969 Pittsburgh
1970 Pittsburgh
1971 Pittsburgh
1972 Pittsburgh
1973 Pittsburgh
1974 Pittsburgh
1975 Pittsburgh
1976 Pittsburgh
1977 Pittsburgh
1978 Pittsburgh
1979 Pittsburgh
1980 Pittsburgh
1981 Pittsburgh
Career Total
Additional Career Statistics: Interceptions: 1-26; Fumble Recoveries: 16

Championship Games

1972 AFC – Miami Dolphins 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He recorded two tackles and six assists.

1974 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Oakland Raiders 13
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He finished with one sack and one tackle.

1975 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Oakland Raiders 10
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He had two assists.

1976 AFC – Oakland Raiders 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 7
Greene started at left defensive tackle and had four tackles.

1978 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Houston Oilers 5
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He finished with three tackles, one assist and one sack.

1979 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Houston Oilers 13
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He had four tackles.

Super Bowls

Super Bowl IX – Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He had one tackle, one fumble recovery and one pass interception.

Super Bowl X – Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He had two assists.

Super Bowl XIII – Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Greene started at left defensive tackle. He had one tackle, one sack, one pass defensed and one forced fumble.

Super Bowl XIV – Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
Greene started at left defensive tackle.

All-NFL: 1972 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1973 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1974 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1977 (AP), 1979 (PFWA, PW)

All-NFL Second Team: 1969 (NY), 1971 (PFWA, NEA), 1975 (AP, PFWA, NEA), 1976 (AP), 1979 (NEA)

All Eastern Conference: 1969 (SN)

All-AFC: 1970 (UPI, SN), 1971 (AP, UPI, SN, PW), 1972 (AP, UPI, SN), 1973 (AP, UPI, SN, PW), 1974 (AP, UPI, SN, PW), 1975 (AP, UPI, PW), 1976 (AP, PW), 1977 (UPI), 1978 (PW), 1979 (UPI, SN, PW)

All-AFC Second Team: 1976 (UPI), 1978 (UPI)

(10) – 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980


Steelers' Records held by Greene(at the time of his retirement following the 1981 season)


• [Tied for 2nd] Most Fumble Recoveries in a season – 5 (1978)
• [3rd] Most Career Sacks – 66
• [Tied for 3rd] Most seasons played – 13 (1969-1981)

Sack Title – 1972, 1976

• 1972 Defensive Player of the Year (AP, NE, PW)
• 1974 Defensive Player of the Year (AP, NE, PW)
• 1969 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (AP, PW)
• NFL 75th Anniversary Team
• Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team
• 1970s All-Decade Team
• All-Time NFL Team (selected in 2000)

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1969 Pittsburgh Steelers 1 13 0 (4th)
1970 Pittsburgh Steelers 5 9 0 (3rd)
1971 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 8 0 (2nd)
1972 Pittsburgh Steelers 11 3 0 (1st)
1973 Pittsburgh Steelers 10 4 0 (2st)
1974 Pittsburgh Steelers 10 3 1 (1st)
1975 Pittsburgh Steelers 12 2 0 (1st)
1976 Pittsburgh Steelers 10 4 0 (1st)
1977 Pittsburgh Steelers 9 5 0 (1st)
1978 Pittsburgh Steelers 14 2 0 (1st)
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers 12 4 0 (1st)
1980 Pittsburgh Steelers 9 7 0 (3rd)
1981 Pittsburgh Steelers 8 8 0 (2nd)


Full Name: Charles Edward Greene

Birthdate: September 24, 1946

Birthplace: Temple, Texas

High School: Dunbar (Temple, TX)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 24, 1987

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 8, 1987

Presenter: Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach

Other Members of Class of 1987: Larry Csonka, Len Dawson, John Henry Johnson, Jim Langer, Don Maynard, Gene Upshaw

Pro Career: 13 Seasons, 181 games

Drafted: 1st round (4th player overall) in 1969 by Pittsburgh Steelers

Uniform Number: 75

Pro Football Hall of Fame
August 8, 1987

Chuck Noll (presenter):
You know, Pittsburgh is built as some place special, and there is no question about that. And I think I found out today that Canton can be classified as something special. And to this day, it is something special and to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1970s was something special. I want to get started. It started with a new stadium that somehow changed the atmosphere in Pittsburgh. We went from a little place out in South Park that was not very comfortable to a glamorous stadium and playing in front of people who were very, very enthusiastic and determined was really something very special.

FDS got involved. There was a thing called the "Terrible Towel," but it all comes down to winning two Super Bowls back to back. You don't do that with bricks and steel, you don't really do that with towels. You do that with people, and it is my pleasure to offer here a guy who is really something special, Joe Greene.

You know, as I look at all the enshrinees, there is no question that they are very physical people. They have played the game physically. They are quick, they are strong, they do all the things well. But the thing I think that sets Joe aside from everybody is his attitude. It is something that you don't do anything to get. It is something that you have, you have deep down in. He had all kinds of attitudes, probably the best, he wanted to play the game very badly. Before his senior year, I was scouting with the Baltimore Colts, and I went through North Texas State and I had the chance to watch Joe for three years. And the last time I had a chance to talk with him and there was no question, this just came through the man that he wanted a professional football career. It was a very important thing for him, and that is a prime ingredient.

One of the other ones is he didn't like to lose. Joe didn't come to us fully prepared. I say this because when he came into the Steelers organization, he hadn't experienced a 1-13 year, and we gave it to him that first year. And I think that kind of brought out some of the good attitude that I was talking about -- that desire to win even more strongly. Joe could best be classified as a winner. He was a guy who had great physical abilities -- the ability to come off the ball fast, the ability to play low, the ability to play every play to the end. But Joe is one of those guys, one of the great football players, who had his antenna out and was really sensitive to the people around him. And as a result, I think we played together as a football team, and regardless of what some of the sportscasters may say when they start adding up yards and tackles and get sums, you win as a team and you function as a team even greater than that. And Joe was very much a factor, and it is a pleasure for me to introduce Joe Greene.

Joe Greene:
I love it. It is a big event. You know, I'm not going to pretend that I am not emotional about this. I might get emotional about this. The guys that have preceeded me have done really well. It is really tough for me, but I am going to give it a go. First of all, I would like to express my thanks to the commissioner, Pete Rozelle, and all of the other NFL owners for making it the game it is today. I loved it. I want to talk about some of those people that had an impact on my life in the course of 18, 20 years. As I reflect back, I start thinking about high school, thinking about my high school coaches, Coach Elliott, Coach Moore. See, I was the big guy around, but my heart wasn't as big as my body, and I really didn't want to play football, but they made me come out and play football. I want to thank him for not letting me quit when the weather got hot, the sprints got hard, the work got devastating. I think it made me a tougher person.

I would also like to talk about my college coaches. Coach McKay, who recruited me from Temple, Texas. Coach Mitchell, who gave me a scholarship. You see, when I first walked in, I didn't have a lot of offers, and I was really trying to get a scholarship. I had heard that you had to make an impression, so when this guy who was responsible for getting me this scholarship, I wanted to make sure he was impressed. I never did like to work out, but I spent a couple of weeks working with the barbells trying to get my body looking good, and when I walked into his room with my cut­off shorts and my sweatshirt cut off at the sleeves and I just pumped up and I walked in and I tip-toed and I kind of graced a little bit, and he said, "You got it."

But there is always mother. Mother ... she taught me how to live; how to have respect for other people. She also taught me to turn the other cheek. I learned at an early age you only have one. My wife, Agnes. For supporting me all those years when I wasn't acting my age. For lifting my spirits when they were very low. For relieving the pain we all feel on this earth, and then finally for letting me know that you are not super-human, you are no superstar. You are just a husband. You got to wash the dishes, pick up your clothes and all that other stuff.

My kids, Charles, Edward, Jaquel, they gave me that strong sense of responsibility. See, I am glad they came along at the time they did because I wanted them to love and respect the sport as I do. To understand what it means to see these people back here. This is my business. I want them to know about Paul Warfield, Gale Sayers, Jim Brown. I want them to know about these people -- Gino Marchetti, Deacon, Mr. Donovan. I want them to know about thern. Mr. Bednarik, two receivers, offensive and defensive ... football.

I want to express thanks to my friends from Dallas, my relatives from Dallas, from friends from Denver, my very dear friends from Churchill, my good friends in the North Hills, Pittsburgh. See, when you win and you don't have anyone to share it with, you have to have someone to share those things with. And they were there during all the Super Bowls and all the big victories. They made it worthwhile. In my exuberance, I forgot about a coach back in North Texas, my defensive line coach who really let me know that football could be fun, Coach Farrell, my defensive line coach.

And there is Mr. Rooney, The Chief. No one can make you feel more welcome than the Chief. "Have a cigar, boy." You know, I still have the first one he gave me when I signed my contract at the Roosevelt Hotel. It may not smoke very good, but it sure does look good. He gave the organization the dignity and the class that it possesses. Dan Rooney, who has been as much of a friend as an employer, always took the time to say hello and pass along a little wisdom. For a young man that kind of bounced on the bounderies as I was, that was very helpful to me. Joe Gordon, now there is a guy who has been with me for a long time. He helped me get through press conferences, what to say to the media. Now that's important for an impressionable young person, so Joe, thank you

George Perles: Now George was the kind of guy that you knew couldn't play just by looking at him. He knew he couldn't play, but every time he gave a pregame speech and prepared us for the game, you knew he wanted to be out there to play with us. I want to thank George for opening up the game for me, to let me slip inside. What is it we are trying to do? Why do I have to be here? I don't think that if George Perles hadn't been the kind of guy he was, it is quite possible I wouldn't be having quite the fun I am right now being the defensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And I certainly do want to thank Dan Radakovich for putting L.C. Greenwood in the lineup in 1970, because without "Hollywood Bags," Joe may not be here. L.C ... quick, fast and did everthing that you would ask him to do. I leaned on him a lot. I was just big. He was quick, so I used his legs. Thank you, L.G. You know, this is the tough part for me here. These guys are something special. Fats ... they will always be that to me. They are frozen in time, and I can keep them there. Fats, Mad Dog, Killer, Vanny, Fernie, Capt. Andy, the Old Ranger. There's Wags and Mr. T. That is the way I see them. Lambie, the Hammer. There's Donny and Loren, then there is Soup. Soup, my roommate, got a lot of strength from him. The little country boy from Georgia had a lot of heart, a lot of character. That you, Mayo? Then there is ... well, you move over to our fence and you got Bubba Brown, you got the Moaner, you got Brad, you got the big Hammer, you got Swanie, you got Stall. These are my boys here. You got Rocky, Randy, Kolby, Webbie. You know who these guys are.

And then there is the 12th man. See, you always need the 12th man. In Pittsburgh, if you are not at the stadium at 1:00 on Sunday in the fall, you are at the wrong place. Pittsburgh. They are always there. I remember them most vividly in the third quarter when L.A. was.getting into us pretty good ... "De-fense! De-fense! De-fense!" Lambert made the interception. Bradshaw got his hands on the ball and immediately got it to Stallworth and got one of the greatest plays I think in Super Bowl history. Without the fans, it is something different, and we certainly appreciate and love you for that. And you have impacted my life because you are important.

You know, basically what the Hall means to me coming in with Jim, Larry, Lenny, John Henry and Don and Uppie, you know that is where I want to be. Because, you know, basically, I am a fan at heart, and these people I admire because they stood the test of time. When it got tough, they showed up to play. They made the contest worth watching because they rose to a new height. I am glad I am here because this is the big event, and I love it. Thank you.