Lloyd still bristles at being fined so heavily, just as he fumes over what he considers the league's hypocrisy. "Come to a game early and watch the Jumbotron scoreboard," he says. "You'll see 'NFL's Greatest Hits,' with guys getting their helmets ripped off and [former Miami Dolphin] Nat Moore getting hit so hard he spins around like a helicopter. They're marketing that. Then I go and put a hit on a guy, and no flag is thrown. The ref says, 'That was a pretty damn good hit,' and the league says, 'We're going to fine you $12,000.' "
("I see his point," says Gene Washington, who doles out fines in his capacity as the NFL's director of football development. But, Washington adds, rules protecting the quarterback were enacted in recent seasons, whereas "some of these videos have been on the market five, six years. We can't go out and reclaim all of them.")
Lloyd abhors quarterbacks, isn't fond of league officials and doesn't care for reporters. (He has refused most interview requests since an uproar arose in September after he was quoted by a local paper, falsely he insists, as saying that in the Steelers' upcoming game with the Miami Dolphins he would knock quarterback Dan Marino "into next week.") He is also annoyed by autograph seekers who, he says, "don't ask the right way." On game day he can frequently be seen shouting at teammates and arguing with coaches. Steelers executives are not immune to his tirades. You consider all the energy Lloyd expends on anger, and you wonder, Who sneezed in this guy's corn flakes? What made Greg Lloyd so mad?
For starters, he never met his father. At age two Lloyd and five of his eight siblings were driven by their mother from Miami to Fort Valley, Ga., and dropped at the home of an aunt, Bertha Mae Rumph. For good.
There were 10 kids in all in Rumph's two-bedroom apartment. Throughout the seventh grade Lloyd wore the same shirt and pants every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday he wore his other outfit. "If you got anything dirty on Monday, you came to school with the same dirty clothes the next day," he remembers. "The other kids would say, 'You're stinky—you stink.' So that taught me humility."
Lloyd fought with rednecks and with anyone who teased him about his parents' not being around. "Back then, all you had to say to me was 'Your Mama,' and I was going to fight," he says.
Lloyd started playing football at age six. "It was a way to vent," he says. His first coach was a preacher named Billy Powell, who on the first day of practice knelt and had players run at him, one at a time. "He wanted to see who could hit," says Lloyd. "I knocked him over."
In high school Lloyd was a starter at fullback and linebacker. In his senior year he was ejected from a game for breaking an opposing quarterback's leg. After graduating, Lloyd accepted a football scholarship to Fort Valley State, a Division II college, where he was all-conference three times. Coach Doug Porter often held him out of non-contact drills. "Non-contact wasn't in his vocabulary," says Porter.
Lloyd earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in four years at Fort Valley. Football scholarship or no, he was bound to make something of himself—Bertha Mae Rumph would see to that. Whenever he misbehaved in elementary school, she whipped him with an extension cord. Says Lloyd, "It didn't take a lot of those before you got yourself together."
As a result Lloyd has felt compelled to teach some of his teammates about priorities. If a Steeler nods off in a meeting or giggles on the practice field, Lloyd gets in his face, just as he did with his Fort Valley teammates. As Porter recalls, "The players tended to listen to Greg. He was not bashful about backing up his admonitions."