On Monday the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the passing of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene at the age of 58. He died on Monday afternoon at his home in Alabama. A cause of death has not yet been reported.
Kevin Greene’s Playing Career
Greene was a fifth-round draft pick (No. 113 overall) of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1985 NFL Draft following a college career at Auburn University that began as a walk-on. He played his first eight seasons with the Rams but then moved on to Pittsburgh, where he spent three seasons (1993-95) at left outside linebacker in a defense that also featured right outside linebacker Greg Lloyd, not to mention Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown and Carnell Lake.
Greene made the Pro Bowl during two of his three seasons in Pittsburgh and was first-team All-Pro in 1994. He started every game during his time with the Steelers, during which he recorded 184 tackles (87 solo) with 35.5 sacks, including 14 sacks in 1994. He was also credited with six forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and an interception. The Steelers advanced to Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys in Greene’s last season in Pittsburgh.
After his tenure in the Steel City, Greene closed out his 15-year NFL career with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers, finishing with 734 tackles and 160 sacks, third all-time in sacks when he retired (behind Reggie White and Bruce Smith).
Arguably his best season came in 1989, when he followed up a 16.5 sack season with another 16.5 sack campaign. He remained durable and highly productive right up until the end of his career, as he recorded 15 and 12 sacks, respectively, in his last two NFL campaigns, which came in 1998 and 1999.
Kevin Greene’s Coaching Career
After his NFL playing days, Greene appeared on the pro wrestling circuit, then entered coaching following an internship with the Steelers in the summer of 2008. He served as outside linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers between 2009-13 and was on the staff of Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV championship team. He also worked as outside linebackers coach for the New York Jets in 2017-18.
Greene was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2016. He was part of the Steelers’ initial Hall of Honor Class in 2017.
Steelers President Art Rooney II issued the following statement in the wake of Greene’s passing:
Statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II on the passing of Kevin Greene: pic.twitter.com/QkbM6gYyIk
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 21, 2020
Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward also posted a message on Twitter offering his condolences.
So sad to hear the news of Kevin Greene passing away. I only had a couple of interactions with him but when we did talk he always spoke with great energy and passion. May he be at peace and his family stay strong.
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) December 21, 2020
Many of Greene’s former teammates were also active on Twitter, including Hall of Fame cornerback/safety/kick returner Rod Woodson, who sent the following message:
I will miss you my brother and my prayers go out to his wife and kids! Brothers 4Ever pic.twitter.com/lcTITTYY0Z
— Rod Woodson (@RodWoodson26) December 22, 2020
Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher (who coached Greene during his three seasons in Pittsburgh) also had kind words, saying, “We lost a legend … a HOF player and even better person…. Heaven just got better on defense.”
We lost a legend in Kevin Greene. He was a HOF player and even better person. His passion for football and life exuded in everything he did. His spirit will live forever. Condolences to Tara and the entire Greene family. Heaven just got better on Defense. Love that man.
— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) December 22, 2020
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