Iconic Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end L.C. Greenwood (pictured), one of the superstar cogs in the “Steel Curtain” defense that catapulted the team to four Super Bowls in the ’70s has passed away at age 67. The cause of death was kidney failure, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Greenwood made up one-fourth of the formidable, awe-inspiring, and highly revered Steelers defensive line of players who invoked fear in to the hearts of all of their competitors. The starring players were Greenwood (pictured above, second from right), “Mean” Joe Greene (pictured above, far right), Ernie Holmes (pictured above, far left) and Dwight White (pictured above, second from left). The fearless foursome helped to propel their team to greatness, resulting in four unprecedented Super Bowl wins over the course of six years. According to sports historians, the “front four” were the best of all time, turning their organization into a winning dynasty.
Greenwood, a Canton, Miss., native, joined the Steelers in 1969. He was a 10th-round pick draft from Arkansas AM&N (now Arkansas-Pine Bluff). Greenwood was accidentally discovered by the Steelers organization who actually went to his school to scout another player.
Art Rooney, Jr., who was in charge of personnel for the NFL team during the ’70s told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I went to Arkansas AM&N to scout someone else, and this great big, tall skinny guy kept catching my eye,” said Art Rooney Jr., who ran the player personnel department for the team in the 1970s.
“The guy I went to see was all right, but L.C. was a terrific player. The coaches there were really pushing him. [Steelers head coach] Chuck Noll kept telling us he wanted great athletes that also had high intelligence. We were maybe going to sign him as a free agent, but Chuck kept pushing us. He wanted to draft him. He was really in to the weight-lifting and thought he could bulk him up.”
At the start of his NFL career, Greenwood blossomed into a pass rusher who demonstrated incredible speed. The 6’6″, 245-pound player could blow by offensive tackles and in to the backfield.
During his 13-year career as an NFL player, Greenwood posted 73 1/2 sacks.
Bad knees forced Greenwood to hang up his cleats before the 1982 season. After his stellar career, Greenwood remained in Pittsburgh, where he became an entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
Sadly, the star player did not live to see his name enshrined in the Pro-Football Hall of Fame, even though there was a movement to secure the honor; Greenwood was a finalist six times with the last attempt having been made in 2006.