By Teresa Varley
The NFL Draft is like Christmas morning for college football players. They sit and wait with anticipation for their name to be called, learning quickly where they will start their NFL career.
When Joe Greene heard it was the Pittsburgh Steelers that drafted him in the first round back in 1969, he felt like a kid who got nothing but a lump of coal in his stocking.
"It was almost crushing," said Greene. "They had the fourth pick and that means you lose a lot of ball games. My first year was terrible. We were 1-13. Every Tuesday we had four or five new guys come in for tryouts. Our team had new faces every week because for the most part we weren't very good. I don't think the atmosphere was positive."
Before long, though, things started to change. The team moved into Three Rivers Stadium and within a few years, the wins started to come.
"I truly believe along with Chuck (Noll), Dan (Rooney) and Mr. (Art) Rooney that it changed when we moved into Three Rivers Stadium," said Greene. "The attitude began to change. When the attitude changed, that's where it started."
The team that Greene dreaded being a part of soon was on the road to winning four Super Bowl Championships, dominating the NFL in the 1970s.
"Winning the first Super Bowl was just beyond belief," said Greene. "What we took into the game was those bad years and the Steelers history up to that point. It wasn't just that game; it was the entire existence of the Pittsburgh Steelers. When we rose up that day we must have done it the right way. We went from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best."
Greene was a mainstay for the Steelers "Steel Curtain" defense in the 1970s, winning a ring in Super Bowl IX, X, XIII and XIV as a player. Greene just completed his fifth season with the Steelers as a special assistant/college and pro personnel, winning a ring from Super Bowl XL and now Super Bowl XLIII.
"The whole story from there to now is a beautiful thing," said Greene. "I am proud to be a part of it. Even if I wasn't working for the team I would be a part of it because it's in my heart. It's just a wonderful thing.
"I can see like Dan Rooney can see what it was like before we won and how difficult it is to stay competitive and keep that attitude and culture in a good way. You have the past as something to hold up and reveal in. It helps everyone stay involved and continue in the Steelers way."