(L.C. Greenwood photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Talk of Fame Network
Carl Eller, L.C. Greenwood, Harvey Martin and Jack Youngblood were all selected to the 1970s’ NFL all-decade team at defensive end. Eller and Youngblood are both enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Greenwood and Martin are not.
According to last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, Greenwood is the more worthy candidate than Martin. We asked our listeners and readers to vote on the best defensive end not in Canton and provided six options. Greenwood won going away with 65.2 percent of the vote.
Martin was next with 13 percent, followed by Jim Marshall, who played 20 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, at 12 percent and Martin’s Dallas teammate, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, at 11 percent. Ed Sprinkle of the 1940s’ Bears and Simeon Rice of the 2002 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers rounded out the field, receiving single digit support.
Greenwood played 13 seasons, all in Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense, and was voted to six Pro Bowls. But he seems to have been victimized by the numbers. There are already nine Steelers from that 1970s’ Super Bowl era enshrined in Canton and, though Greenwood has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist six times, he’s been passed over each time.
Nicknamed “Hollywood Bags,” Greenwood collected 73-½ sacks in his career — and that count doesn’t include his Super Bowl record four sacks of Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X. Greenwood got the vote of Talk of Fame Network co-host Clark Judge.
“It seems as if he’s being penalized for being part of a great team,” Judge said, “but L.C. Greenwood was a great player. He and teammates Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Joe Greene were chosen to the NFL’s silver anniversary Super Bowl team, and only Greenwood isn’t in Canton. Why? He was a six-time Pro Bowler, an all-decade choice, a Super Bowl champion and part of the best defense I’ve seen. So I really don’t know why. He checked all the boxes.”
Martin was the co-MVP of Super Bowl XII, along with Hall of Famer Randy White. He collected 114 career sacks and went to four Pro Bowls. Martin also set the franchise record with 23 sacks in 1977. That would be the NFL record, except the league didn’t acknowledge or start counting sacks until 1981.
Martin received the vote of Talk of Fame Network co-host Rick Gosselin.
“He was an all-decade choice and did something no pass rusher has ever done — tackled 23 quarterbacks in one season,” Gosselin said. “It’s ridiculous that he’s never even been discussed as a finalist for the Hall.”
Marshall holds the NFL record with 29 career fumble recoveries and also had 128 sacks but only went to two Pro Bowls in his career. Sprinkle was named to the 1940s’ NFL all-decade team, and Rice had 122 career sacks and a Super Bowl ring. Jones had 106 sacks and a Super Bowl ring.
Rice couldn’t muster much support, but he did receive the vote of Talk of Fame Network co-host Ron Borges.
“Simeon Rice was a far better defensive end than time remembers,” Borges said. “It’s not his fault he played half his career in the Arizona desert before Kurt Warner arrived and resurrected the long-dormant Cardinals. He was highly productive there. And in Tampa, where he wasn’t just surrounded by stars, he was one. He made the Tampa 2 a Tampa 3 with Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp.”