The NFL suffered another loss Monday when the news broke of former linebacker Kevin Greene’s passing. Greene, who was just 58 years old at the time of his death, had enjoyed a long-substantiated career as headman for several defensive linebacking corps, including the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.
No cause of death has been released at this time.
Greene was renowned for a number of trademark qualities including his overtly charismatic personality, profusely woven blonde locks, and dashing bright smile. But no signature was more emblematic of Greene than the limb-crunching hits he doled out to antagonist quarterbacks, and he collected more sacks than most men in league history (save for two, Bruce Smith and Reggie White) with 160.
But Greene’s legacy stretches far beyond his game-breaking pass-rush ambience.
He was a master preparer, insatiably delving through mounds of film footage in efforts to batten down looser ends of his craft. His dedication to study and improvement was undeniably demonstrated through his performance, and when his bodily strength began to wear away, he was able to parlay his mental expertise into several coaching gigs.
The first of which sparked a lifelong relationship with Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. Greene instructed outside linebackers for the Green Bay Packers from 2009-13, which happened to be the brunt of McCarthy’s prime during his tenure with the green and gold.
Greene’s second seasonal campaign marked both he and McCarthy’s lone Super Bowl victory, and Greene was largely responsible for oversight of Clay Matthews’ ascension to an all-time great tackle-monger (Matthews went to four Pro Bowls during Greene’s five-year run with the team).
After hearing about the bombshell news break, McCarthy had this to say:
“Obviously, very sad news that we’ve received here in the last couple hours. Obviously, for his wife Tara and Gavin and Gabby – it takes your breath away. I always admired Kevin as a football player, and really the reality of it is he approached coaching and he approached fatherhood and all of that the same way. He was as driven a person as I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. He worked with me up there for five years, and he was the same guy every day. He brought tremendous energy to the office, and he loved the game of football. Obviously, his passion as a player and as a coach – he’s touched a lot of people.”
“The guys that knew Kevin on staff here, we’ve been sharing some of our stories and our time together with him. Like I said, It was very sad to get that news here earlier today.”
The news is even more excruciating for the football world, and especially the Cowboys’ camp when factoring in their recent loss of strength coach Markus Paul.
It will undoubtedly be a tough pill to swallow as the days and weeks wear on, but positive memories of Greene’s infectious attitude and larger-than-life personality will withstand the test of time, and serve as cornerstones of his infallible legacy.
One such memory is one that’s irreplaceable in Greene’s personal bank: his first sack.
And it came against none other than... you guessed it: the Dallas Cowboys.
Rest in peace Kevin Greene.