Steelers retire Joe Greene's No. 75

ByScott Brown ESPN logo
Monday, November 3, 2014

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers fans got one more chance to cheer an NFL icon and arguably the greatest player in franchise history.

The Steelers retired Joe Greene's No. 75 at halftime of their game against the Baltimore Ravens, capping an emotional return to Pittsburgh for the player who is still most associated with the teams that won four Super Bowls from 1974-79.

Fans largely stayed in their seats after the Steelers took a 22-10 halftime lead on Sunday night, and the organization honored Greene.

Thunderous cheers reverberated around Heinz Field as Greene made his way out of the tunnel. The stadium stayed quiet through most of a video tribute to Greene shown on the Steelers' videoboard and later chanted "De-fense!" as Steelers president Art Rooney II addressed the crowd about Greene's impact on the only organization with six Super Bowl titles.

Greene wiped tears from his eyes before accepting a No. 75 Steelers jersey from Rooney.

"I've been blessed," Greene said on the field.

Greene was surrounded by family members, Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney and former teammates, such as Franco Harris, Mel Blount, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Andy Russell, when he became just the second Steelers player to have his number officially retired.

He joins former Steelers defensive tackle Ernie Stautner in receiving that honor. The duo were also immortalized by the Steelers late Sunday afternoon when they unveiled life-sized images of Stautner and Greene inside of Heinz Field.

"It means so much to us, just what he meant to us, the defense in Pittsburgh," Harris said of Greene. "He really was the bedrock, the foundation of our '70s team. To have this recognition is so wonderful, and I'm so happy to be able to celebrate this with Joe."

The day was a little bittersweet for Greene.

Former Steelers coach Chuck Noll passed away in June, and Greene is the lone surviving member of the fabled "Steel Curtain" defensive line that also included L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie "Fats" Holmes.

"There were not many days that go by that I didn't think about Chuck when he was with us. There are not many days that go by when I don't think about L.C., Dwight and Ernie," Greene said. "Special relationships individually and as a group."

As for how he wants to be remembered, Greene said, "I want them to think that Joe Greene was part of a fantastic football team of the 1970s that probably set the tone and tempo for history for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They helped create what was the most dynamic and fantastic football city and football fans in the world."