Joe Greene “Mean”

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins


Read Time: 3 minutes

Charles Edward Greene often referred to as “Mean” Joe Greene, is a retired American football player. He was born on September 24, 1946, in Temple, Texas. He is renowned for playing the defensive tackle position for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a career that spans from 1969 to 1981.

During his playing career, Greene won two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, five first-team All-Pro selections, ten Pro Bowl appearances. He is regarded as one of the best defensive players in NFL history. He is well known for his leadership, fierce and scary nature being a huge man tolling 6ft 4in (1.93m), and weighing 275 Ib (125kg), as well as his intimidating style of play; earning him his “Mean Greene” nickname.

Career Overview

Joe Greene’s illustrious career first began in 1964 when he got admission into North Texas State University on a football scholarship. By 1968, he was already playing as an outstanding defensive tackle for the school team.

Greene’s talents were challenging to ignore, and by 1969, he was chosen by Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL draft of that year. While playing in the NFL, Greene didn’t take long to make his presence felt as he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and received the first of his ten Pro Bowl invitations in his debut season. After his selection, Greene went on to earn 11 straight all-conference recognition from his debut in 1969 up till 1979.

From the point of his debut throughout the 1970s, Greene established himself as a critical player for the team and was capable of single-handedly deciding the outcome of important games.

In 1972, Pittsburgh Steelers managed to reach the first playoffs in their history but suffered a considerable blow as many of their key players were injured. They headed into a must-win game against Houston in their poor condition, and Greene had to take charge of the game by recording five sacks and a fumble recovery, which was enough to give them the victory. He also had his highest career sacks of 11 in this same year.

In 1974, Greene masterminded a new tactic of lining between the guard and center to disrupt his opponent’s blocking assignments, and this made him almost unstoppable throughout this year. He was able to guide his team to their first AFC championship and Super Bowl IX and was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second time, making him the first player to receive the award multiple times.

In a final game against Minnesota Vikings, Greene had recorded a legendary performance by getting an interception, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. This performance is also considered as one of the most incredible individual defensive Super Bowl performances. Greene was awarded the Pittsburg’s most significant sports figure of the year at the 39th Dapper Dan dinner at the end of the season.

During his career, especially in the 1970s, Joe Greene was a vital member of the historic “Steel Curtain” defense and played a significant role in ensuring countless Victories for the team.

Later Life

After his retirement in 1981, Greene served as a coach and scout for his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers and several other NFL teams from 1987 to 2003.

He is famous for having appeared in a very renowned Coca-cola advert in 1979, which received a Clio Award and is considered one of the best television commercials of all time. After retirement, Greene continues to feature in movies and commercials.


•          Four-time Super Bowl Champion

•          Ten-time Pro Bowl ( 1969-1976, 1978, 1979)

•          Five-time First-team All-Pro (1972-1974, 1977, 1979)

•          Three-time Second-Team All-Pro (1971, 1975, 1976)

•          Two time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1972,1974)

•          1969 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

•          1979 NFL Man of the Year

•          NFL 75th Anniversary All-time Team

•          NFL 100th Anniversary All-time Team

•          NFL 1970s All-Decade Team