Homage to Mean Joe Greene

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

For the past 44 years the words "Mean Joe" and the Steelers have been synonymous. Even when Greene was coaching other teams, he was always a Pittsburgh Steeler. After dedicating the majority of his life in one capacity or another to the team whose reputation for excellence he played a pivotal role in establishing, Mr. Green has finally retired, but Steeler Nation will never forget...

Charles Edward Greene, the Man...

...so impassioned about excellence that once in the middle of a game he threw the football into the stands because he didn't believe the referees were performing their duties well enough...

...so impassioned about winning that he intimidated his own teammates, and once early in his career threatened to quit not because the Steelers were losing, but because of how they were losing...

...so impassioned about and dedicated to his craft that his game-day demeanor and personality became so identifiable that his television commercial for a soft drink became an icon of advertising...

Such a man could have become so self-absorbed that he would have ended up a caricature of himself, but instead he harnessed that passion and gave it back to the team, the community and the City that not just adopted him, but embraced him and his persona, yet never killed or diminished the humanity he had inside him.

A proud African-American man from a small backwater town deep within Texas was drafted by a team from a small industrial city in the north that at the time was heavily divided along racial and ethnic lines, and he made it his home; by the very force of his nature he refused to be discriminated against but instead held himself and everyone around him accountable for their actions on and off the field and not for the happenstance of their birth.

Charles Edward Greene was not a "once in a generation" player, he was a "once in an organization's lifetime" player whose selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969 was the cornerstone of all that we in Steeler Nation now know and hold as priceless in our Pittsburgh Steelers. He could not have achieved what he did all by himself, but the Steelers would not be who they are as an organization, as a symbol of the City of Pittsburgh and all of Steeler Nation without Mean Joe Greene.

He played for twelve years, and then went into coaching. It is said that as a coach he never achieved the same level of success as he did as a player because what made him a Hall of Fame player could not be taught despite his efforts to do so; it was inherent in the man himself. Yet Greene was an assistant coach for sixteen years, with the Steelers, the Miami Dolphins and the Arizona Cardinals, demanding that each player he taught put forth every ounce of their being in an effort to excel. He retired from coaching in 2004 and re-joined the Steelers as special assistant for player personnel for the Steelers up until yesterday, once again helping to shape and mold today's Steelers team as he did as a player in the 70's. Greene has returned to his native state, making his home in Flower Mound Texas.

His presence will be missed within the confines of the South Side facility, but his personality, work ethic and contributions will live on as part of the personality, history and lore of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thank you Mr. Greene, for honoring our team, our city and Steeler Nation with your life's work; any future Lombardi Trophies that the Steelers earn will be as much yours as is the One for the Thumb and Lombardi No. 6.

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