By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
You produce more sacks than Lawrence Taylor. You produce more sacks than Michael Strahan. You produce more sacks than any linebacker in the history of the NFL and all but two defensive players, period. So why aren’t you in the Hall of Fame?
Don’t ask Kevin Greene.
He’s the linebacker with 160 career sacks who’s a perennial finalist to make it to Canton … but a perennial also-ran, too. The past three years Greene made the cut to 15, and the past three years he failed to be inducted. People want to know why, and, frankly, it’s a good question.
One of the knocks is that he played for multiple teams. If he were Hall-of-Fame great, critics ask, why didn’t, say, Pittsburgh or Los Angeles or Carolina hang on to him? I mean, Strahan didn’t play for anyone but the Giants, and LT didn’t, either. OK, I get that. But Bruce Smith, the league’s career sack leader, played for Buffalo and Washington, and second-place finisher Reggie White played for three teams — Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina.
I know, Greene played for four (including Carolina twice), and that bothers some voters. But keep this in mind, people: Randy Moss played for five different clubs, including Minnesota twice, and, while that’s ammunition that may be used against him, I don’t know that it keeps him out of Canton. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does not.
Another criticism is that Greene was a one-trick pony, more of an opportunist who collected sacks as a 3-4 outside linebacker than he was an all-around player. Fair enough. I get that, too. But he wasn’t just good at what he did; he was so good that he got to the quarterback more than all but two players since the NFL in 1982 recognized sacks as an official statistic. Criticizing him for being one-dimensional is a little like knocking Mariano Rivera because he threw only one pitch.
Plus, there’s this: When Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman named him to his unofficial All-Pro team in 1982, choosing him over Philadelphia’s Seth Joyner, he cited Greene’s coverage skills as one of the reasons. Tell me the last time you heard anyone talk about LT’s coverage skills.
“I’ll be honest,” one AFC offensive coordinator told me, “when we played Pittsburgh, it wasn’t Kevin Greene who scared us. It was the guy on the other side — Greg Lloyd.”
Another good point. Lloyd was a terrific player. But he wasn’t the irresistible force Greene was. Greene was named to an all-decade team. Lloyd was not. In 11 of his 15 NFL seasons, Greene led his teams in sacks, and twice he led the entire NFL. Lloyd did not.
Apparently, someone should’ve paid more attention to Kevin Greene. Now we have the chance.
Courtesy of the Carolina Panthers