Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene has died at 58 years old.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the news Monday. The cause of death was not noted.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Kevin Greene,” Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker said, per the statement.
“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.”
Kevin Greene’s NFL legacy
Greene played 15 seasons in the NFL from 1985 to 1999 for the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. He was one of the most feared pass rushers in NFL history, tallying 160 career sacks while earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors with the Rams, Steelers and Panthers. He was named to the Pro Bowl five times during his career.
Greene was as durable as he was fierce, recording double-digit sacks in 10 of the final 12 seasons of his career, including his final four seasons with the Panthers and 49ers before he retired at 37 years old. His sack total is third all-time behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
Greene was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. He is survived by his wife Tara and his children Gavin and Gabrielle.
Coach, family man
After his retirement, Greene returned to the NFL as a linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers (2009-13) and the New York Jets (2017-18), sharing his expertise of the 3-4 defense. Clay Matthews developed into one of the game’s best pass rushers in Green Bay under Greene’s tutelage.
Greene stepped away from the Packers in 2013 in order to spend more time with his family before joining the Jets four years later.
“The bottom line is I couldn’t justify now pouring myself into guys like Clay Matthews and all my kids in Green Bay when I had my own son going, ‘Dad show me,’” Greene said in 2017. “I knew then that it was time. It was time to be a dad again.”
Greene also had a brief stint as a professional wrestler with WCW, performing alongside wrestling icons Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Big-time player, personality
As a player, Greene was a fan favorite at each of his NFL stops thanks to his ferocious play, relentless energy and outsized personality. He was a leader on some of the NFL’s best defenses. Steelers owner Art Rooney II spoke to Greene’s impact as a player and person in a statement on Monday.
“We lost an amazing player and person this morning with the passing of Kevin Greene,” Rooney said. “His sudden death is a shock to us all as he was a close friend and teammate to so many people in the Steelers family.
“When Kevin came to the Steelers in 1993, he had an immediate Impact. Paired with Greg Lloyd, Kevin and Greg led a defense the became known as Blitzburgh and went on to play in Super Bowl XXX. Kevin’s energy and enthusiasm were inspiring for our teams as well as our fans.”
The Rams and Packers also released statements on Greene’s death.
In memory of Los Angeles Rams + NFL Legend, Kevin Greene. pic.twitter.com/1kppvHx2hD
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 21, 2020
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 21, 2020
Greene played in college at Auburn before the Rams selected him in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL draft.
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