LATROBE, Pa. – Of course he picked the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 2.
Once he got over the shock of being told by Chairman Dan Rooney and President Art Rooney II that the Steelers wanted to retire his No. 75, Joe Greene was asked to select a 2014 home game for the ceremony.
"Well, he certainly was not expecting it, let's put it that way," said Art Rooney II of Greene's initial reaction. "We called him in, and I don't think he had any idea what we were going to say. I think it took him a little while to kind of get used to the idea, but he was very honored and excited to have his family come up and do this. I kind of left it up to him what game it was going to be, and no surprise he picked the Ravens game."
What a night that figures to be. The Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field for Sunday Night Football. It will be the rematch of the Thursday, Sept. 11 matchup at M&T Bank Stadium, and when it's over the Steelers will have completed two-thirds of their AFC North schedule. That's a tough ticket right there, and when you add in Joe Greene's No. 75 retirement ceremony the electricity inside the stadium should be off the dial.
"I would just like to say that I think this is a tremendous thing to do for Joe," said Dan Rooney. "Joe was actually the cornerstone of the team. Chuck Noll came, and the first pick that he made was Joe. And Joe, the big thing that identified him, is that he had a great determination to win. He really pushed everybody. I will also say that we did retire Ernie Stautner's jersey (in 1964), and this doesn't take anything away from him. He was a great player and he was the player of the 1950s. Joe is just something special. He was much deserving of this honor, and that's what he thinks it is."
The Steelers had to deal with some sadness during the offseason, what with the deaths of Bill Nunn and Chuck Noll, but Art Rooney II said the decision to retire No. 75 had been made before that. And so the franchise now has retired two jersey numbers, 40 years apart.
The greatest photos of Joe Greene from the archives.
"It's been a long time coming with this decision, and we really thought about doing this off and on many times," said Art Rooney II. "If we started down this road, where do you stop? Are there enough numbers to go around for all the guys who maybe deserve to have their number retired? But I think the decision we made was, 'Look, we'll make this decision one at a time and not really decide about any other jerseys at this point.' We're just really excited about recognizing Joe."
Dan Rooney, who officiated at the ceremony 40 years ago when Stautner's No. 70 was retired during a game at Pitt Stadium, thought this decision was an easy one.
"I don't think it was a difficult decision at all because of Joe Greene, and what he did and things like that," said Dan Rooney. "As I mentioned, it's just not a reflection of anything but positive feelings as far as Stautner is concerned. But this was not a difficult decision, because of Joe being what he was."