Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers
Age: 28 (Sept. 24)
6th season in pro football & with Steelers
College: North Texas State
Height: 6’4” Weight: 275
An All-American and considered the best college defensive line prospect available, even if comparatively unknown to most fans, “Mean Joe” was taken by the Steelers in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft (fourth overall). With his speed as well as strength, he quickly established himself as an outstanding pass rusher from the interior of the line and was the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year. Greene followed up with Pro Bowl years in each of the next four years from 1970 to ’73, including a selection as NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press in 1972. Fast, strong, and agile, he had the ability to dominate games and provided outstanding emotional leadership.
1974 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]
Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 26
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 4
Postseason: 3 G
Sacks – 1 (unofficial)
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 10
Fumble recoveries – 1
TDs – 0
Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFC: AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Steelers went 10-3-1 to finish first in the AFC Central while leading the NFL in fewest total yards allowed (3074), fewest passing yards allowed (1466), and most sacks (52) and the AFC in fewest points allowed (189). Won AFC Divisional playoff over Buffalo Bills (32-14), AFC Championship over Oakland Raiders (24-13), and Super Bowl over Minnesota Vikings (16-6).
Greene became the cornerstone of an outstanding defense that was one of the highest-ranked in the NFL over the remainder of the decade and the Steelers won four NFL titles. While injuries became more of a factor after his 91-game playing streak came to an end in 1975, his string of Pro Bowl selections reached eight straight. “Mean Joe” played a total of 13 years, all with Pittsburgh, and was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection five times, received at least some All-NFL or All-AFC recognition in four other seasons, and was named to the Pro Bowl on a total of 10 occasions. Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1987.
MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). Also includes Associated Press NFL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.