NOVEMBER 10, 1980
To hear L.C. Greenwood tell it, his NFL career happened by accident. Even though he accepted an athletic scholarship to play football at Arkansas AM&N (now called Arkansas-Pine Bluff), he did so to pursue his real dream of becoming a pharmacist. The NFL occupied his thoughts so little that the Canton, Miss., native had never even heard of the Steelers until they drafted him in 1969. And since he was picked in the 10th round, he didn't expect to make the team. He sums up his 13-year career, which included six Pro Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl wins, by saying, "It just happened," as if he were talking about getting splashed by a car on the way to work.
That Greenwood, 56, never counted on much from the NFL explains why he was so well prepared for life after it. In 1974—unsure of how long his career would last—he started a coal-and-gas marketing company in Pittsburgh to give himself something to do after football. The plan worked: Greenwood, who retired from the NFL in 1981, still runs Greenwood Enterprises, along with an electrical-supply company, Greenwood McDonald, which he started in 1986. The businesses are small—the same three employees staff both companies—but that's by choice. In 1980 Greenwood also started an engineering firm, which grew from three to 80 employees, but he sold it about 10 years ago because managing a big company didn't suit his temperament. He claims he doesn't like confrontation, which is odd to hear from a man who sacked quarterbacks 73� times. Getting rid of that business, he says, was "one of the smartest moves I ever made."
Greenwood has been divorced for 19 years and spends most of his time either at work, at church or on the golf course. He was one of 15 finalists in the Hall of Fame balloting in 1991, '95, '96 and 2002, and he has been nominated again for 2003. He feels that he deserves to join the nine Steelers teammates who have already been inducted into the Hall, including Terry Bradshaw and fellow Steel Curtain lineman Joe Greene.
"If we are the best defensive line [ever] in the NFL, why isn't there more than one person in the Hall of Fame?" he asks. "That's the big question I have." Maybe it's the price, he says, of being a guy who did his job quietly, as if he were grateful just to be there. It would be fitting, however, if Greenwood's unexpected football odyssey, which began in one town called Canton, ended in another Canton.