Gravelle snapped with what seemed like real feeling. Greene came on; Gravelle,
straining, held him out, held him out, held him out. Greene let up, as though
beaten. Then, in a lightsome way that seemed out of keeping with the grunting
and groaning that had gone on before, he spun around a relaxed Gravelle and,
too late to count, tagged Radakovich's actual person.
Except in terms
of who could be more whimsical, it seemed that Gravelle had won. "Gordy
handled Joe pretty well, huh?" the interviewer asked the offensive linemen
at the table. The offensive line blinked. "Because Joe didn't try,"
"He does what
he wants," said Guard Gerry Mullins, who is white and was Greene's roommate
on the road last year. "His hand is so big—the heel of it hits the front of
your shoulder pad and you think he's pushing you back, then his fingertips grab
under the back of your pad and he pulls you forward."
offensive-line table reflected upon Greene as a gathering of mariners might
reflect upon the sea. The Steeler offensive line was effective last year in
large part because it felt so relieved, in games, to be blocking against
defensive lines other than the Steelers'.
infuriating," asked the interviewer, "to have a guy beat you at his
"Infuriating?" said Mansfield, who won an NFL Blocker of the Year award
last year and says there is nobody he can't handle one-on-one except Greene.
"When Joe Greene stomps you it's not infuriating. It's more like
frightening. If Joe really wants to shuck a guy.... Did you ever see a dog get
hold of a snake?"
entered. He sat at a table by himself. He was wearing a sort of misshapen
big-brimmed golf hat and in the darkness it was hard to make out much of him
except eyes and teeth, both of which flashed fitfully.
For some reason
he began to talk about getting beat. "A black man—I say a black man, we got
no corner on the market, but every day in some form or fashion you got to prove
you're a man," he said.' 'But you want to keep the life-and-death
situations down. I can get beat. But there's getting beat and there's getting
stomped. When I start getting stomped, then I get...." Here he acted out,
in subdued and semi-humorous form, his reaction to getting stomped. It was sort
of a wild-eyed, spread-armed hopping around in his chair which, if extrapolated
slightly, would probably propel table and interviewer across the room.
But Greene was in
anything but a stomped mood. He looked fondly at the other Steelers. "These
guys," he said of the offensive linemen. "We gave them hell. Called
them sissies. Called them girls. But they did a job.
the guys' faces," he said, "I see the happiness, I see the peace of
mind, I see what winning that Super Bowl means for the first time.