As a matter of
fact, a good many Steelers will tell you that Greene now runs the team. No one
questions the administrative or strategic authority of Noll, a man so
unemotional that when his wife excitedly greeted him after the Super Bowl
victory, he held out his hand to be shaken and said, "Well, we did it."
Neither does Noll question Greene's sense of fitness, which caused him to
withdraw himself from a game in '73 and to walk out of a team meeting—crying,
according to one account—last year. In both cases Greene was put off by what
struck him as a lack of fervor among his teammates.
losing, Joe will get to stalking around out there," says Russell. "Last
year we were beating New Orleans but they were moving the ball and Joe yelled
in the huddle, 'Andy, what're you going to do?' I got mad. 'I'm just going to
play football,' I said." When Henry Davis was middle linebacker and ran the
huddle he threatened to come to blows with Greene to shut him up. " Joe's
such a great player," says Russell, "maybe he thinks everybody else can
play better if they try harder. He doesn't seem to realize that other positions
require more restraint, that you can make mistakes if you get too hyper. I
don't think it works to keep making emotional pitches.
meetings last year, I felt we should stress the positive, talk about how we're
going to improve. Joe thought we ought to be more honest and bad-mouth the
negative. As it turned out he figured his approach worked."
What Greene did
last year, before the Steelers suddenly went into high gear, was criticize the
Steeler offense to the press, exhort his teammates in general and insult
opponents at the line of scrimmage. Some of the Steelers found it all a bit
excessive, but many of them were doubtless lifted. They knew at least that
Greene wasn't posturing. "It was after the playoff game we lost to Miami in
'72 that I really got to know Joe as a friend," says Mel Blount. "He
and his wife came over to the house and sat around with me and my wife and we
talked about it. And a few tears were shed. That's when I got to know Joe as a
true person. A good person. A really concerned person."
On the other
hand, Greene is not the only man on the team. Shortly after training camp
opened this summer, Receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth and Defensive Back
Jim Allen, all second-year men, were sitting together in the 19th Hole, an
almost cellar-dark bar to which many Steelers repair after practice. Swann,
Stallworth and Allen wanted to make the point that Greene was "no big
brother or daddy" to them.
"I think he's
a great player," said Stallworth, "but I think I am, too."
out like a sore thumb without the rest of the front four," said Swann.
"And he gets so excited on the sidelines. He'll go up to Chuck saying,
'What's the quarterback doing!' He'll go up to Lionel [Receiver Coach Taylor]
and say, 'What're the receivers doing!' He gets so excited he's got us playing
conservative, while he's taking chances.
"He gets such
respect! Last year somebody clipped him and he stomped on the guy's head. The
referee ran up to him, says, 'Mr. Greene!' Not 'Mr. 75, 'like he'd say to
anybody else. 'Mr. Greene! I saw it,' the referee says about the clip. 'He
won't do it again!' " Swann shook his head.
"I give him
all kinds of trouble," added Swann about his non-big-brother. "I'll
yell at him and he's so strong he might kill me. So I got him where he can't do
Over at another
table, a quorum of the offensive line was drinking Lite beer in big glasses of
ice and building a pyramid out of the cans. That afternoon there had been an
Oklahoma drill, known on other teams as the Nutcracker, in which an offensive
lineman tries to stop a defensive lineman, one-on-one, from getting to a
tackling dummy held by Dan Radakovich, the offensive line coach. Greene had
beaten a couple of guys, rested a while, then stepped up to Gordy Gravelle, who
had earlier won raves by putting Greenwood on his back—the first time anybody
could remember that happening to L.C. Gravelle had worked against a couple of
rushers with success, was psyched up and sweating. Greene made a move to step
in. "You want to rest?" Greene asked playfully. Gravelle glared at him.
"You too tired?" asked a coach, more seriously.