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Greene's statue & Mundy making a difference

Joe Greene’s impact on the Steelers doesn’t need to be explained.

The Hall of Famer was the heart and soul of the team’s defense in the 1970s, a force on the Steel Curtain who helped change the entire direction of the organization.

His No. 75 jersey was retired by the team, one of only two players to ever have their jersey retired.

But before he came to the Steelers, he had an impact on his college, the University of North Texas, and they haven’t forgotten.

The school will honor Greene in two ways, including an eight-foot bronze statue, on a four-foot pedestal, that will be unveiled on Sept. 29 in Denton, Texas at the main entrance of Apogee Stadium when North Texas plays Louisiana Tech.

“For over 50 years, Joe Greene has made a tremendous impact on our university and the athletic program,” said North Texas athletic director Wren Baker. “As a football player, as an alumnus and as a regent, he has made significant contributions to this campus and brought great honor to the Mean Green family. He is one of the greatest defensive linemen in the history of football and he's one of us. We are very excited to recognize Joe's achievements and contributions with this statue.”

The Steelers selected Greene in the first round of the 1969 NFL Draft out of North Texas, where he was a consensus All-America selection in 1968.

“I am overwhelmed by the thought of a Joe Greene statue at the University of North Texas,” said Greene. “It is beyond my wildest expectations that the university thought enough of me as a player and a person to bestow such an honor to me and my family. It will be special for my kids, grandkids and all the generations that follow to see their father and grandfather displayed in such a manner.”

The school also announced plans earlier this year to name a residence hall after Greene. The hall is currently under construction, and set to open in 2019.

“Who would have thought that? That is what it is, wow. It is wow,” said Greene. “It came as a complete surprise. I was not aware of it. Very, very pleased about it. It’s something that…while playing football at North Texas I can say I never thought and pursued being an All-American, playing in the NFL and making it to the Hall of Fame. But if I am in the arena that means the possibility is there for those things to happen.

“But having my name on a dorm, having a statue, is way beyond the realm of possibility. You definitely don’t think about those things. I am not a millionaire. I can’t go out and build a building and put my name on it. That is special. It’s real close to Mr. (Dan) Rooney asking me to present him at the Hall of Fame.”

When former Steelers safety Ryan Mundy started hearing the news about the City of Seattle banning plastic draws, his mind started to race.

He, like many Americans, didn’t realize the negative effects plastic straws have on the environment, with over an estimated 7.5 million of them polluting U.S. shorelines.

Mundy, along with his business partner Phillip Causgrove, wanted to do something to make a difference. They weighed the options, talked through ideas, but it wasn’t until the move from plastic straws became even more mainstream, with restaurant groups, hospitality groups and major corporations coming out against plastic straws that their idea came to fruition.

Mundy and Cosgrove teamed to create SWZLE, a company that has developed reusable stainless-steel straws. His company is now marketing and distributing a package through Kickstarter which includes two stainless-steel straws, a cleaning brush and a compact case that makes taking it with you easy.

“It looks good and it’s environmentally friendly,” said Mundy, who is a Pittsburgh native and played for the Steelers from 2008-12. “We wanted to empower consumers on the individual level to move away from plastic straws. We thought the best way would be to do something like this, that you can carry with you and walk around with stainless steel reusable straws.

“We feel like we are positioning ourselves to be a leader in moving away from plastic straw usage.”

SWZLE is a low-profit limited liability company (L3C), but the goal is for it to continue to grow, without losing its main mission.

“Our first priority is to do good,” said Mundy. “We are focused on social enterprise and not making decisions solely on profit, but for the good of the environment.”

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