Saturday night, the league finally inducted one of its most prolific pass rushers, someone who revolutionized the way the linebacker position is played. Kevin Greene dominated the National Football League for fifteen years, serving as the model for success and consistency. He is beloved by every fan base who was lucky enough to watch him suit up every Sunday, but he is especially immortalized in Pittsburgh, where he starred on the feared “Blitzburgh” defense. Despite only playing three seasons for the Black and Gold, Steelers fans came out in droves Saturday to watch one of their progeny get his due respect. The world also finally became privy to the wordsmith that is Kevin Greene, as he produced one of the more moving and entertaining Hall of Fame speeches in recent memory.
If there is not a shirt with the quote “Bo, he ran my ass over” plastered on the front by Monday morning, I will have lost all faith in American consumerism. Greene’s speech easily became one of the most quotable speeches ever, with incredible quotes strewn throughout. Whether he was referring to his father, “he passed on to us Army values…be men of honor. Have integrity. Be respectful, and have an attitude of selfless service”, his time with the Steelers, “playing for Mr. Rooney and the Steeler organization that had such a rich history of just lining up and kicking ass and winning”, or even his thoughts on Jackie Ray Slater, “This dude carried a Bible in one hand and a switchblade in the other”, Greene certainly has a way with words. Greene spoke eloquently about his whole life, starting with his early days spent on a military base in Mannheim, Germany to the battles he had in college at Auburn, which eventually lead to a successful fifteen year NFL career. Greenly talked passionately about each team he played with, humbly reciting every coach and teammate who helped get him to where he is today. When Greene touched on his time with the 49ers, he examined the complex relationship he had with the team’s two biggest stars. “I have been beaten so many times by Steve Young and Jerry Rice that now they’re actually my teammates and I’ve got to say hi to them every day in the locker room. No, hell no, I don’t.” Conversations like these highlight the humor and light-heartedness hiding behind Greene’s competitive exterior.
As Greene began wrapping up his already legendary speech, he imposed a few words of reflection on his career. “I walk away happy and healthy for the most part and a peace of mind, peace of my heart with the way I played.” If that is not a man at peace with his life, I’m not sure what is. While he may have not been the flashiest athlete of his generation, or the most famous, he was one of the most hard working, consistent, gritty players ever to step foot on the gridiron, and these values all shined through Saturday night. Kevin Greene, and his glorious, flowing hair is finally in the Hall of Fame.