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Kevin Greene

Kevin Greene
  • Hall of Fame 2016
  • Hall of Honor 2017
  • Pro Bowl 1989
  • Pro Bowl 1994
  • Pro Bowl 1995
  • Pro Bowl 1996
  • Pro Bowl 1998
They say good things come to those who wait, and for Kevin Greene that has finally proven true.

The former Steelers linebacker, who retired 12 years ago from the NFL, was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the last five years. This year, he got the news he has been waiting for.

Greene will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 6 as a member of the Class of 2016.

Greene was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the fifth-round in 1985, where he established himself as an elite pass rushing outside linebacker with the Rams, collecting 72 ½ sacks in eight seasons. But the last two years the focus of the Rams defense shifted and for Greene the beginning of NFL free agency in 1993 came at a perfect time.

The Steelers were in the market for an outside linebacker after not matching an offer sheet to restricted free agent linebacker Jerrol Williams who then went to the San Diego Chargers, and in came Greene.

"He had such a will to inflict a sack on the quarterback," said Steelers' inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky, who played linebacker with Greene. "Back in 1993 when Kevin showed up here, that was his main goal. He would always say, 'I have to get to the quarterback.' He would remind you, 'I have to get to the quarterback.' It was a running play and he would still say, 'I have to get to the quarterback,' and we would tell him it's a running play.

"It was great because that's what he had to do. That went over to everyone, Greg (Lloyd), Levon (Kirkland), me and Chad (Brown). Just the history of linebackers, having a guy like that always wanting a sack was great. We are all held to a standard. He held everyone on the defense to the standard, and you had to live up to it or you would hear about it."

Greene finished his career with 160 sacks, 26 fumble recoveries, five interceptions, and recorded three safeties. He had double-digit sacks 10 times in his 15 seasons, and he led the NFL in sacks in 1994 (14.0) and 1996 (14.5). He was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s. He was a three-time first-team All-Pro (1989, 1994 and 1996) and a five-time Pro Bowler (1989, 1994-96 and 1998).

During his three seasons with the Steelers (1993-95) he recorded 35 ½ sacks, the second most by a player in their first three seasons with the Steelers since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He finished his career playing for the Carolina Panthers (1996, 1998-99) and San Francisco 49ers (1997).

Greene was a game changer, a player who brought passion on and off the field.

"I loved getting a sack," said Greene. "First it was a feeling of relief. I know that is what that organization really wanted me to do. They wanted me to rush the passer, defend against the run because you can't be soft against the run and then drop back in coverage and do the things (defensive coordinator) Dom Capers wanted to do.

"But what they really wanted me to do was crush quarterbacks. When I was really able to do that it was a feeling of relief. My teammates depended on me to do that. I contributed. I didn't want to let my teammates down. I did something to stop that drive. Either I hit the quarterback at the right time and caused a fumble we recovered, or we got an interception. I remember in 1993 I got a hit on Steve Young and the ball floated and Rod (Woodson) came down with the pick. I felt like I was contributing. A sack was different than making a tackle for a loss, or a tackle at the line of scrimmage. It was just me making a contribution and not letting my brothers down."