Legends Series: Greg Lloyd
His demeanor appeared most to match the shirt he wore on a regular basis. It simply said, "I wasn't hired for my disposition." It was a message that made many avoid former Steelers' linebacker Greg Lloyd, but for Lloyd, it was simply a gift from a group of kids that he promised he would wear that eventually turned into a whole lot more.
"I somehow got chosen to go speak to an elementary school," said Lloyd. "How or why I don't know. When it was over the kids wanted to present with me something and here is this t-shirt with 'I wasn't hired for my disposition.' I told the kids I was going to wear the t-shirt every day so they knew I appreciated what they did.
"Then it caught on. It was like Clark Kent goes into the booth and he comes out as Superman. That is kind of how it was. You come to work as a mild mannered guy. You put this thing on and you are this superhero thing. I felt that way, not just the shirt, but when I put my uniform on I felt like I was invincible because I put the work in. That is how the shirt started. People would ask me and I would smile because it was the kids and I didn't share that. I didn't care what people were going to say about something I wore. All I figured people cared about is what happened on Sunday. For 60 minutes they were going to get a straight fool. That is how I tried to play."
While Lloyd described himself as a 'mild mannered guy,' there was no doubt he fit the bill for the shirt. He was playing a game where he needed to be nasty, and unless you were among the circle of people that knew him well, that is what you would have assumed he was…nasty.
"I am a very simple person," said Lloyd. "I still felt like coming out of college I got disrespected. Schools where I wanted to go, weren't interested in me. I was the number two linebacker coming out of high school, but schools thought I was too small. I came in with a chip on my shoulder. I thought other linebackers that came in that year didn't have anything on me other than they went to Alabama, Georgia, or Florida. Back then I just wanted to play but still had that chip on my shoulder. People would ask about Fort Valley State College, is it a military school. In practice I would be like, I am going to show them what Fort Valley State is all about."
Believe it or not, though, there was another side to Lloyd. A side that made him appreciate everything football brought into his life, and made him appreciate what both Art Rooney Sr. (The Chief) and Dan Rooney Sr. did for him during his playing days.
"My first year I got hurt and had an operation in Divine Providence Hospital," recalled Lloyd. "There was a priest in the room next to me and 'The Chief' went to visit him. For some reason he came into my room. I knew who he was, and he came in and my leg is in a cast and I was paying attention to what he was saying. The first words out of his mouth after he pulled his cigar out were, 'How you doing Lloyd.' I was like he knows me, he knows my name. One of the things he said to me was 'You are going to be okay, you are going to be a great player in this league. You just have to hang in there and get past this.' That was 'The Chief.' It touched me. It really touched me."
Lloyd also weighed in on a variety of other topics in this exclusive interview:
What was it like to play on the defense you were on, the Blitzburgh defense?
"We were a group of guys that held each other accountable. Our coaches didn't have to make us watch film and do extra stuff. It's what we wanted to do. You would see Rod (Woodson) and Carnell (Lake) running hills and you would say I won't let them get up on me. You would run even if it made you throw up. A lot of what I did was because of the supporting case."
You also got the billing of 'Just Plain Nasty.' Did that fit just right?
"Somebody started that, and they were point on. They were right on with it. There were times we would argue among ourselves about why didn't you do that, why weren't you there. We had those disputes on the field. That is how we were. We were that confident that a team wasn't going to score on us. We would be on the sideline thinking they came to watch us. That is what made us good. We didn't care where we had to defend the ball, we were going to stop them. It wasn't about being arrogant, we put in the work. Not just practice, but getting to know each other. We became Blitzburgh. Having fun, that is what it was all about."
What did it mean to you to play for the Steelers?"When I first came to Pittsburgh I was in awe. I never told this story. I was never a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I was a Dallas Cowboys fan, of all fans. You never want to say that to a Steelers fan. Everybody else in my family were Steelers fans and still are. When I got here the first person I met was Joe Greene. The first thing you think about with Joe Greene is the Coke commercial."
What was it like to play for a team that you were in 'awe' of?
"You kind of felt what these guys were about over the years. When you came out and played in my day, you saw the jerseys, No. 58, No. 59, No. 75, No. 12, and No. 32. I thought, those guys don't play anymore, why are people wearing their jersey? It didn't get explained to you, you just saw enough highlights of them, were around them and saw how they carried themselves, how they played the game, and you wanted it. For me, not only did I want that, but I didn't want to let those guys down. I wanted to play like Jack Lambert and Joe Greene played.
"I am still in awe. I am still in awe of how these guys carried themselves. After getting to know them and knowing what they were about, and what their legacy was all about. You wanted it. I admired those guys. You just wanted to put your own spin on it. We wanted to add to it, we wanted them to be proud that when we stepped on the field they could still say it was the Steel Curtain and we had a defense indicative of that. That was my main goal."
What did it mean to be a part of the Steelers' linebacker legacy?"Privileged and humbled at the same time. I didn't understand that legacy until I started playing. Until I started hearing the history and you understand the history and read the history. I think that is some of the things we talk about when we talk to our kids about history. They want to know why do we need to learn about history, I am never going to use that. We tell them it teaches them to not make the same mistakes others made. Well, in this case, I wanted to repeat what those guys had done. That is what studying history, studying those guys did. It taught us how to play the game, how to study the game, study your opponent, but more important how to become a teammate. The history of the Steelers, how that regardless of what we did on the field, the fans will love you because of what you went out and did. That is something that is still here.
"I wanted what they had, I wanted somebody to wear my jersey. I wanted to look up in the stands and see No. 95. You had to put the work in. That is what the offseason and practice was about."
What's it like when you still see somebody wearing a No. 95 jersey?
"I think it's an appreciation. Do I deserve it, I don't know. As a kid growing up people would ask who my hero is. The people that fed me, those were my heroes. I think it's humbling because even as much as I think I did, I think I could have done more. There are times when somebody is wearing your jersey and you appreciate it but you think that guy could have done so much more. Not a lot of regret, but I little bit of regret that I think there were some things I did not accomplish while I was playing. People still say you had a great career. That is the fans way of saying thank you, we appreciate you and how you played. Also how you carried yourself off the field. Even after football you still walk that fine line to make sure you don't do anything crazy."