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Remembering the Steelers' Eric Green

Remember when the tight end position wasn't as glamorous as it is today? When a tight end didn't flex out in the slot? When blocking was the first priority and any receptions were just an added bonus?

If you remember that then you can probably remember the handful of years that 6'5", 280 pound Eric Green was the Steelers' tight end. He was the first round selection (21st overall) of the 1990 draft, and during his five years with the team, he put up the best single season by a Steelers tight end, and the best five year stretch as well (despite being suspended for nearly half of the 1992 season). In the 1993 season he totaled 63 receptions for 942 yards and 5 touchdowns, leading the Steelers in each of those categories. His five year run in Pittsburgh ended after the '94 season, but during those five years he averaged 39.6 receptions and 536 yards per season. To put that in context, only twice in Steelers history has a tight end, not named Eric Green, had over 40 receptions (Heath in 2007 & Bennie Cunningham in 1981), and only three times has a TE had over 500 yards receiving (Heath, Cunningham 1979 & 1981). Not only could Green catch the ball, he was a devastating blocker as well, using his size to overpower both defensive ends and linebackers. Green was voted to the Pro Bowl twice (1993 & 1994) and an All-Pro (1990) once during that time.

One of the things that I didn't realize during my years as a youngster who loved to watch this big man catch passes was the 'black eye' on his resume. Like so many 'could have been' stories, Green had a drug problem that he couldn't shake, at least in his early years. Twice during his five years in Pittsburgh he was suspended for failing drug tests for cocaine. In the end though, Green still stands as the most productive and arguably best (Bennie fans might have someting to say about that) tight end that the Steelers have had to date. Heath Miller could change all of that in upcoming years, but the fact remains that Green was a great Steeler that is largely forgotten.