Kevin Greene should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
“It’d be cool; it’d be neat,” Kevin Greene said to reporters on Wednesday on again being named a finalist to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “I don’t want to get overly up about it or down about it. My focus right now is evaluating my young men and the season they’ve had. What can I do to be a better coach for them moving forward.”
Kevin Greene should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the inductees are named on Feb. 1. Kevin Greene probably knows this somewhere behind that ice-melting stare, but Kevin Greene is more concerned about the next quarterback the players he coaches – Green Bay Packers outside linebackers – will be hitting rather than the 160 he hunted down over 15 seasons in the NFL.
That position, linebacker, has housed some of the more psychotic and brutal football players in the NFL. It gave them legal passage to inflict pain on others. Linebackers unleash untold amounts of physical force upon their opponents (and themselves – contrast Greene’s fire and energy on the sidelines with the hitches in his giddy-up) over their careers and then NFL Films canonizes their feats and plays Intense Football Music to accompany the highlight packages. Maybe more than any other unit, linebackers are that ol’ glory days football position that so many are drawn to this game by.
Kevin Greene was one of those good-kind-of-crazy linebackers. He enjoyed hitting people, looked like a professional wrestler, and actually was one for awhile because it’s Kevin freaking Greene. All these things helped. They make up part of the player we still see pacing on the Lambeau Field sidelines. Now, take that and add this football element: giant strong humans in shoulder pads coming around the edge and destroying the quarterback, who is often one of your least favorite players on the other team if they’re worth worrying about. There are few things better than a sack on the opposing quarterback. There are not many stats weighted in equal parts importance and adulation like sacks. Fans remember sacks. Sacks make a man dangerous, and dangerous can give a player legend.
Linebackers are expected to do a lot of things on the field. Doing one of the most significant things a defensive player can do on a given play – tackling the quarterback – doesn’t have to be a defining characteristic of a great linebacker. Linebackers have different roles in different schemes, different abilities and ways to contribute. It’s not everything, but it’s a big thing. Kevin Greene did that thing more than any other linebacker ever.
Only two people in league history have sacked more quarterbacks than him: Bruce Smith and Reggie White, two grizzly bears who terrorized offenses and ripped apart the best-laid blocking schemes by mauling, speed rushing, and clubbing their way through protection. It’s those two and Kevin Greene. That matters. It really says all you need to know.
Kevin Greene is a linebacker still. In the way he coaches, speaks, moves. He probably wants to be in the Hall of Fame, probably knows he deserves it. He should be in the Hall of Fame not because of that, but because linebackers and sacks get plenty of attention alone and together, and Kevin Greene is still the best from that group in doing that thing. He should be in the Hall of Fame because it’s too obvious and too easy. Easy things should just get done. In the meantime, he’s going to be chasing something, or teaching others how to better chase someone, because he’s a linebacker and that’s what he’s always done.
@griffingotta Thank you Mr. Griffin. The bottom line: it was fun. Cracking folks was fun. Teaching others to crack folks, yep…. fun too!
— Kevin Greene (@sackmaster91) January 12, 2014
And there you have it, from the should-be Hall of Famer himself.