It was 1994. As an 11 year old growing up in Wheeling, WV, you couldn’t help but be infatuated with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was a big fan of Barry Foster, Yancey Thigpen and of course, that defense.
Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake and Levon Kirkland were great, but there was this pass rushing duo given the name Quiver and Quake. Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene. These two were larger than life.
As a young kid, we would be in the backyard and as we stood at the line of scrimmage doing the customary “10 Mississippi” count, and when you got to 10 you were going after the quarterback like a crazed dog. If you got home? You better believe you stood up and celebrated just like Kevin Greene when he would sack opposing quarterbacks. It was that awesome fist pump...
While Greene only spent three seasons with the Steelers (‘93-’95), he instantly became a legend in the Steel City. That 1994 team was the first Steelers team I truly fell in love with. I remember so much about that team, even the crushing loss in the AFC Championship game to Stan Humphries and the San Diego Chargers. Greene logged 14 sacks in that ‘94 season.
In 1995, Greene’s final year in Pittsburgh, the team was magical, and the defense was punishing. Greene and Lloyd were Quiver and Quake to the max, and it was an absolute thrill to watch them do their thing every single week. All the way to Super Bowl XXX.
There haven’t been many players who have played eight seasons with the team who drafted them, and only three seasons with another team, and consider themselves a member of the latter organization.
But that was Greene.
When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, he was inducted as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can watch his entire induction speech HERE. It was how he was inducted in the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2017. Did I say he only played in Pittsburgh for three seasons? The Steelers organization even had Styx come to Heinz Field and play “Renegade” live during his ring ceremony.
That was the impact Greene had not only on the Steelers organization, but the fan base. Greene was drafted by the Rams and played eight seasons there, played three seasons with the Steelers, went to Carolina for a year, to San Francisco for another, and back to Carolina to finish out his professional career.
Who was the last journeyman player to revere himself to the Steelers fan base as much as Greene?
I’ll wait while you think about it...
Greene was a tremendous player, and a true artist when it came to sacking the quarterback, but his persona was almost equally incredible. The long blonde hair flowing out of the helmet, the fist pumping and the pure passion and love for the game. He was a hard worker who came from a military background. No wonder the Steelers faithful fell in love with the former Auburn Tiger.
Even after his football career was over, his larger-than-life career continued, but in professional wrestling. As a kid who also adored wrestling, Greene fit right into the world of Hulk Hogan and Sting.
It was truly a shame the news broke of Greene’s passing just hours before the Steelers played the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15. It almost felt as if once the game started people forgot about the loss of a legend.
That didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to pay my respects to Greene the best way I know how...by writing about him. I loved watching Kevin Greene play football, and he has a special place in my heart as a part of the team which made me become obsessed with Pittsburgh Steelers football.
Today I pray for the Greene family, and have solace knowing Greene is in a better place. As the coach who brought Greene to Pittsburgh, Bill Cowher, said...
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
Rest in peace Mr. Greene. You’ll forever be missed.