On Monday, Hall of Famer Joe Greene retired from the Pittsburgh Steelers personnel department and I couldn\’t help but think about the story in the Jan 28, 1969 edition of The Pittsburgh Press following the selection of Greene in the first round of the NFL draft. The fan reaction almost reads like modern day tweets on Twitter following a draft. I don\’t know who the author of the piece was, but it very well could have been the late Pat Livingston or the late Les Beiderman. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know. Below is a reprint of the article.
Steeler fans, almost to the man, were asking the same question today.
“Who\’s Joe Greene?” they wanted to know.
Only three of 20 male fans interviewed in the Golden Triangle had heard of the 6-5, 275-pound defensive tackle from North Texas State and the No. 1 draft choice of the Steelers.
“Is he an All-American?” asked a salesman. The answer was yes. “Well, that\’s something,” he said.
“I never heard of him,” a PAT driver said. “They had a chance at (Terry) Hanratty? They didn\’t take him?” The man shrugged his shoulders.
Hanratty, a Notre Dame quarterback from Butler, was picked in the second round by the Steelers.
Only three players, O.J. Simpson, George Kunz and Leroy Keyes, had been selected before the Steelers named Greene.
“Actually, the way the Steelers have been going, I\’m not surprised at the pick,” a telephone company official said.
“I would have liked to see them line up a secondary,” one fan said.
“Joe Greene presses pants right over there,” jested a magazine staff member from Cleveland. “He does good work, too. You\’re lucky to get Chuck Noll. I know him personally and he\’s a super guy.”
“Gee, I thought I was a pretty good football fan,” a Mt. Lebanon township official said, “but I never heard of Greene.”
“Joe Greene must have been rated pretty good,” said a stockbroker who had never heard of him. “The scouts from the Steelers haven\’t been too good, but I got to go with him. They know more than I do.”
“Am I surprised? You better believe it,” a disgruntled salesman said. “The sports fans here are so sick at heart that I can\’t see this move. Oh well, they didn\’t get Paterno either.”
He was referring to Penn State Coach Joe Paterno who turned down the Steeler coaching job.
“He\’s a defensive tackle I think,” a businessman said, “a small-school boy. “It\’s a typical Steeler pick. I hope it turns out better than the usual Steeler first-round picks.”