Former Steelers linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Kevin Greene has died at age 58.
Greene was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1985 NFL Draft and went on to play for the Rams, Steelers, Panthers and 49ers during his 15-year career. He was also a coach with the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets.
Greene was a 5-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 1990′s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016.
No cause of death was given.
The following is a statement from Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker:
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Kevin Greene. I regarded him as a personal friend and a true Hall of Famer in every sense. He possessed the most incredible can-do attitude of anyone I ever met. He was a great player, but more than that, he was a great man. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin’s wife, Tara, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Kevin’s memory.”
Steelers president Art Rooney II also released a statement on Greene’s passing.
Greene finished his 15-year NFL career with 160 sacks, which ranks third in league history behind only Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198). He also had 23 forced fumbles and five interceptions.
Former Panthers general manager Bill Polian said Greene was a person exceptionally devoted to his family, his craft as a football player and the military, where he earned the rank of captain and completed airborne training at Fort Benning to become a paratrooper.
Polian said Greene had an exceptional ability to escape blockers.
“He was a self-made technician and as good as anyone who has ever played the game in terms of technique,” said Polian, like Greene a Hall of Fame inductee. “And because he was undersized, grit played a tremendous role in his success.”
Greene would have agreed with that assessment.
“I wasn’t the biggest (and) I wasn’t fastest,” Greene once said. “But as long as you have a motor, you have heart ... that will overcome any physical limitations.”
Greene regularly studied film to search for opponents’ weaknesses.
“I figured out how to pass rush,” Greene said. “I figured out how to put a guy, an offensive tackle three to four inches taller, 80 pounds heavier, put him in a position of failure, and I did that.”
Dom Capers, who coached Greene in Pittsburgh and Carolina, said Greene “had such a great passion for the game.”
“He had an infectious personality,” Capers said. “He influenced everybody that he was around. Everyone had a tremendous amount of respect for him because he not only produced as a player, but because as good of a player as he was he was an even better person.”
“So sad to hear the news of Kevin Greene passing away,” Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward said. “I only had a couple of interactions with him but when we did talk he always spoke with great energy and passion.”
Added Heyward’s teammate, Stephon Tuitt, on Twitter:
“It’s a Honor to Represent this legendary Number today for you and your family. I will make y’all proud. Prayers to Kevin Greene a legend.”
NOTE: Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.