As a player, mean Joe Greene was a franchise cornerstone, helping to spur the turnaround of a Pittsburgh team that in less than a decade would go from perennial loser to four-time Super Bowl champion. Now retired, the franchise cornerstone, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987, pans for diamonds in the rough. In March 2004 the former defensive tackle returned to the Steelers as a scout. In some ways, he says, the role is one he has been prepping for since his days as a player. "I guess I've been scouting since the day I got drafted," Greene, who assists in evaluating pro and college players, said at his introductory press conference two years ago. "I've always been interested in finding out who the talent was that could help you win."
When Greene retired in 1981 after 13 seasons and appearances in 95% of the Steelers' games during that span, he seemed on track for a long career in coaching. After working briefly as an analyst for CBS, he joined Chuck Noll's staff in '87 as the Steelers' defensive line coach. When Noll retired in 1992, Greene was a finalist to succeed him but eventually lost the job to Bill Cowher, then the Kansas City Chiefs' linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.
Greene went on to coach the Miami Dolphins' defensive line for four years, then moved to the Arizona Cardinals, where he spent the next eight seasons, also as defensive line coach. When Dennis Green was made the Cardinals' coach in 2004, Greene was fired along with his colleagues to make room for a new staff.
The dismissal prompted a phone call from Greene's old boss, Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who floated the idea of a career in scouting. A Steelers icon who now makes his home in the Dallas metro area, Greene was all too happy to hear him out. "My feelings and love for the organization go without saying," said Greene, now 59. "It's an automatic."