One of the great things about the offseason is it gives you an opportunity to think about topics that normally wouldn’t even pop into your mind during the hustle and bustle of the regular season.
For example, birthdays. I’m a big fan. What’s yours? If you tell me, I’ll probably never forget it. It’s just my thing.
Speaking of my thing, Friday, July 31, was a day that both Jason Gildon, an outside linebacker who the Steelers picked in the third round out of Oklahoma State in the 1994 NFL Draft, and Kevin Greene, an outside linebacker who Pittsburgh signed as one of its first-ever unrestricted free agents in 1993, celebrated birthdays.
Being a long-time Steelers fan who knows a thing or two about their rich history at the outside linebacker position, I was actually impressed they managed to employ two players born on the same day, albeit ten years apart, who possessed such pass-rushing prowess.
In case you didn’t know (and I’m not going to bet against it, given the fact that his name was never Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter or James Harrison), Gildon, whose career in Pittsburgh spanned 10 seasons, parted ways as the franchise’s all-time sack-leader with 77, a record that stood until Harrison surpassed him in 2016.
Okay, before you even say it, I realize sacks didn’t become an official NFL statistic until 1982, and that Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood and maybe even Ernie Stautner all likely retired with a million each. But that’s still a pretty impressive feat for a Steelers defender who didn’t play in either of the Super Bowl eras and who didn’t even become a full-time starter until a year after Pittsburgh made its only non-Super Bowl-era Super Bowl appearance following the 1995 season.
And then there’s Greene, a player that was way more popular during his three years in Pittsburgh than Gildon ever was during his 10. Obviously, that was due to the fact Greene kind of looked like Hulk Hogan, had long, blond hair, was the Quake to Lloyd’s Quiver (I think) and actually was a starter during the Steelers’ only non-Super Bowl-era Super Bowl appearance.
Greene tallied 35.5 sacks between 1993-1995 before taking his services elsewhere in free agency. Greene was subsequently replaced in the Steelers lineup by Gildon in 1996. Come to think of it, that was a connection I didn’t even see until this point of the article. Now that I know this, the fact that Pittsburgh enjoyed 11-straight years of non-stop pass-rushing production from two different guys born on July 31 is even more astonishing.
To reiterate, the Steelers have been so good at drafting and signing outside linebackers over the past five decades or so, they just so happened to employ two really great ones who were born on the same day of the year.
Maybe that’s why Greene, who played for four different teams—the Rams, Steelers, Panthers and 49ers—and was about as journeyman as one could get for a guy who tallied 160 career sacks and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, considered his three years in Pittsburgh to be his favorite in the NFL.
Maybe that’s why Gildon, again, the team’s all-time sack-leader from 2003-2016, is one of the last players mentioned when talking about the Steelers legacy at the outside linebacker position.
Steelers birthdays as they relate to outside linebackers and the amount of sacks they tallied during their time in Pittsburgh.
And they said I wasn’t good at advanced stats.