Blount: 'I am really happy for Joe'

The Steelers will retire Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene's No. 75 jersey when the team plays the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Nov. 2 at Heinz Field. During the week Steelers.com will bring you some Joe Greene memories from former teammates and opponents, including the latest featuring teammates sharing their thoughts on No. 75 being retired.There are 22 Steelers' players who won four Super Bowl rings in the 1970s.

Nine of those 22 are Hall of Famers. Legends. The best of the best. Playes that will always hold a special place in the hearts of Steelers' fans.

But there is only one Joe Greene.

Greene was Chuck Noll's first-ever draft pick, selected in the first round in 1969 when the Steelers struggled to win games. He retired 13 years later, a four-time Super Bowl Champion whose legacy of being a great player, teammate and person will live forever.

Whenever you see highlights of the '70s Steelers, you always see Greene's familiar No. 75 wrecking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

That No. 75 will never be worn again by a Steelers' player in a game, as it's being retired on Sunday night when the Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

It will only be the second time in the 82 year history of the Steelers that a jersey is being retired, the other Ernie Stautner's No. 70 back in 1964, 50 years ago.

"I think Joe being the cornerstone of the success of the Steelers in the 70s and laying a foundation of expectation of teams to go after, it is deserving of this honor," said former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. "No. 75 should not be worn by anyone else on the football team."

Nobody has worn Greene's No. 75 since he retired in 1981, nor has anyone worn No. 12 (Terry Bradshaw), No. 32 (Franco Harris), No. 52 (Mike Webster), or No. 58 (Jack Lambert). But if the Steelers retired every number of their Hall of Famers, or players who made a huge impact on the team, they would soon run out.

"I think he is the guy that deserves it," said cornerback Mel Blount, a Hall of Famer who has been a close friend of Greene's since they were teammates. "Personally I don't think there should be any other numbers retired because it diminishes the meaning of retiring the number. If you are going to retire 10 or 15 numbers then it dilutes what it means."

The decision to retire Greene's number came this summer from Steelers' Chairman Dan Rooney Sr. and President Art Rooney II. It's something that humbled Greene, but at the same time brought joy to his former teammates.

The greatest photos of Joe Greene from the archives.

"I am really happy for Joe and I think the Rooneys did the right thing," said Blount. "In my personal opinion I think that should be it. I am so honored to see what is happening with the Steelers retiring his jersey. I think it's a great tribute to a person who made such a great contribution to the Steelers."

Greene was the leader of the Steel Curtain defense, the NFL's Rookie of the Year, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 10-time Pro Bowl selection. He was All-NFL five times and all-conference 11 straight years beginning with his rookie season.

"I always thought it should be No. 75," said Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who played for the Steelers from 1972-83. "I like how the Rooneys do it where it's special. Ernie had his jersey retired. He represented a certain era. I look at Joe Greene and it couldn't happen to a better person, player, teammate or Steeler.

"To have his jersey retired is like a little icing on the cake for our team, our decade. You look at the 70s, 80s, and I just see one jersey and that jersey is Joe Greene's. That one jersey represents all of us. To me, that is not just Joe Greene's jersey; that is our jersey and we all share in that. That one jersey spans that time and represents us. That one jersey, that is what it should be, Joe Greene's and it should be just that one jersey."

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