Greene roast raised money for the Mel
Blount Youth Home
The Mel Blount Youth Home is dedicated to helping
young male victims of child abuse and neglect. Located south
of Pittsburgh in Washington County, the Mel Blount Youth Home
has given hope and turned around the lives of thousands of
youngsters since it was opened.
On Friday, May 30, the Mel Blunt Youth Home held its
annual All-Star Celebrity Roast, and the event honored Joe
Greene. Attended by 1,000 people, the Roast was emceed by
Rocky Bleier, and speakers included Lynn Swann, Andy Russell
and Randy Grossman. Also in attendance were Hall of Fame
members Mel Blount, Chuck Noll, John Stallworth and Dan
Rooney. The event was organized by TiAnda Blount, Mel's wife.
star-studded cast of Steelers turned out to roast Joe
Greene on May 30 at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel. The event
raised money for the Mel Blount Youth Home.|
one part of the evening was devoted to roasting Greene,
another part honored him and what he meant to the Pittsburgh
Steelers. Included in that portion was a video that traced
Greene's arrival in Pittsburgh as a rookie in 1969 and his
rise to becoming the best player in the history of the
following is the script that accompanied that video:
in 1969, the newest member of the losingest franchise in NFL
history, and what greeted him was not even apathy, but
was the headline in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the day after
the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a North Texas State defensive
tackle named Joe Greene, and that headline was an accurate
description of what the citys football fans thought of new
Coach Chuck Nolls first No. 1 draft pick.
understand what the Steelers were at that time and how they
were perceived by the public, these words written in 1969 by
Pittsburgh Press columnist Roy McHugh tell the tale. Wrote
McHugh: The first thing a Steeler must learn is how to lose.
the Steelers lost. During the 36 years that spanned their
entrance into the NFL in 1933 until the day Noll was
introduced as the 12th coach in franchise history, the
Steelers had managed to finish with a winning record just
eight times. Never a champion. Never even in the game that
decided the champion.
Greene never learned the lesson that Roy McHugh considered
remedial. Coaches always talk about how players reveal
themselves in difficult times, and there were a lot of those
for the Steelers in Greenes rookie year of 1969.
Steelers were 1-4 after a 42-31 whipping in Cleveland when
Gene Hickerson, a many-time Pro Bowl guard for the Browns,
offered this opinion on the Steelers rookie. That No. 75,
hes going to be great. Hes as strong as a bull and so
blasted quick. I dont know how anyones going to handle him
in a year or two. Believe me, I dont know how you handle him
now. I havent seen a better tackle all year.
Steelers kept losing, but Greene kept impressing people. They
dropped to 1-5, and while some of the Redskins players
complained about dirty play, Vince Lombardi, by then
Washingtons coach, dismissed that stuff and said simply,
Hes a real good football player.
Steelers were 1-8 after losing the rematch to Cleveland when
Browns quarterback Bill Nelsen moaned about being worked over
by that animal rookie on the defensive line.
Minnesota Vikings stopped by on their way to a trip to the
Super Bowl and laid a 52-14 whipping on the Steelers, but
guard Jim Vellone preferred to talk about Greene. I always
thought Alan Page was the best, said Vellone about a teammate
who was changing into street clothes just a few yards away.
But Greene can do things that Page couldnt do.
later, after seeing his Cowboys escape Pitt Stadium with a
10-7 win, Coach Tom Landry summed up what the Steelers had
known for a couple of months. Joe Greenes as good a football
player as has come into this league in years.
season ended miserably for the Steelers. One win, 13 losses.
For his part, the rookie Joe Greene let frustration kick in
too often and was ejected from a couple of games. Because of
that, he was mocked by opponents for not being able to stay on
the field, chided in the newspapers for doing things that hurt
his team. Joe Greene was a special talent, but his immaturity
was threatening his career. Instead of allowing that to derail
him, Joe Greene grew up, and by doing so he proved there was
more about him that was special than just his talent.
forward to 1972. No longer losers, the Steelers are looking to
outlive their past in one season. They open by beating the
Oakland Raiders, and come Halloween their record is 5-2, but
there still are some who believe theyre just masquerading as
contenders once again.
30-0 stomping of the Browns at Three Rivers Stadium on Dec. 3,
the Steelers need to win to get in position to clinch the AFC
Central Division, the first title of any kind in franchise
history. They will look for that win in Houston against a 1-11
Oilers team, but it quickly becomes apparent that this
Steelers dream has all the makings of another nightmare.
game is 15 minutes old, there are more injured Steelers on the
sideline than there are points on the scoreboard. Bruce Van
Dyke, Gerry Mullins, Ron Shanklin, Terry Bradshaw, L.C.
Greenwood, Craig Hanneman, Sam Davis and Jim Clack are
injured. Thats four offensive lineman, the starting
quarterback, the leading receiver, and two starting defensive
linemen. Done for the day, or in the case of Mullins, so sick
as to be barely able to stand. The halftime score was 3-3, and
to the Steelers, the Oilers had to be looking like a
reincarnation of the 1962 Green Bay Packers.
had to step up, and that somebody was Joe Greene. He finished
the game with five sacks. He blocked one field goal attempt.
Then with the Steelers holding a tenuous 6-3 lead in the
fourth quarter and completely unable to muster any offense,
Greene burst into the backfield to dump running back Fred
Willis for a 12-yard loss, force a fumble and recover it
himself at the Houston 13-yard line. Roy Gerelas short field
goal clinched the result, and the Steelers had turned a
charter flight home that night, team captain Andy Russell made
this announcement: After much consideration, we decided to
award the game ball to a guy who is so outstanding that much
of the time his play is taken for granted. We are giving the
game ball to Joe Greene.
might have been the Steelers most critical game to date, its
best player had carried them to victory. And so it began. The
Steelers were learning how to win, and they were well on the
way to becoming the most dominant team in NFL history.
championships. Holding the Minnesota Vikings to 17 yards
rushing and forcing five turnovers in Super Bowl IX. Sacking
Roger Staubach seven times and intercepting three of his
passes in Super Bowl X. Pulling themselves from a 1-4 hole in
1976 on the strength of a defense that allowed 28 points and
posted five shutouts over the final nine weeks. Winning when
they were supposed to. Winning when they had to. Those
Steelers did it all, and for a long time their best player was
Noll took over in 1969, he knew many of the players he
inherited werent good enough, but he also learned quickly
that the first one he drafted was good enough. And so it was
that Joe Greene became the example. Look at him. Watch him.
Play like him, and well all get to sip the champagne.
Greene retired after the 1981 season, after 10 Pro Bowls and 6
conference championship games and four Super Bowl rings, he
thanked the Steelers for allowing him to become a man.
Steelers fans should thank Joe Greene for helping make their
team the greatest of all time.