RIP: L.C. Greenwood, of Canton, sack master
He was born and raised in Canton, Mississippi, but L.C. Greenwood never was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio. Such a shame. Such an injustice.
Greenwood, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, died in Pittsburgh Sunday, reportedly of kidney failure. He was one of the greatest defensive ends in pro football history. He was 67 at the time of his death.
Inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, Greenwood played on four Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl championship teams on the 1970s.
Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Roger Staubach was known as Roger the Dodger, but he couldn’t dodge Greenwood. In Super Bowl X, Greenwood sacked Staubach a record four times in a 21-17 Steelers victory.
Greenwood, who played collegiately at Arkansas A & M (now Arkansas-Pine Bluff), was long and lean as defensive ends go. He stood 6 feet 6 inches and played at about 245 pounds, which probably explains why he was a 10th round draft choice. He was much lighter than that when he came into the NFL in 1969.
“L.C. was one of the most beloved Steelers during the most successful period in team history and he will be missed by the entire organization,” Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement. “He will forever be remembered for what he meant to the Steelers both on and off the field.”
Chuck Noll, the Steelers’s Hall of Fame coach, loved not only Greenwood’s athleticism but his intelligence. Greenwood had attended college on an academic scholarship. Following his playing career, he became a highly successful Pittsburgh businessman.
Many in the Steelers organization thought Greenwood was either too light or too raw to play in the NFL, but Noll was patient, and his patience was rewarded many times over. Greenwood led the Steelers in sacks six times and had a career total of 73.5, plus 14 fumble recoveries. Speed was his game. He often blew by offensive tackles before they even came out of their stance. His height — 6-6 barefooted, was another huge factor. Even when he didn’t get a sack, he often batted down or deflected passes.
Along with Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White, Greenwood was part of the front four of Pittsburgh’s famed Steel Curtain defense. Greene, the most famous of the four, campaigned long and hard for Greenwood’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, correctly saying that part of the reason for his own success was the opposition having to compensate for Greenwood’s speed on the outside.
Greenwood was nicknamed “Money Bags,” because of his trademark gold shoes he often wore during a career that included more Pro Bowl appearances (six) than any other defensive end.