Greene finds his calling
Greene, the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks by a linebacker, is one of 26 semifinalists currently up for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration. This isn’t Greene’s first time going through the process, so he isn’t getting his hopes up too high and really doesn’t want to talk about how much it would mean to him.
“Well, I think this might be my fourth year,” Greene said. “So I’m trying to manage the highs and lows of the process.”
Instead, Greene is focused on his current role as the outside linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers and getting his players ready for Sunday’s game against San Francisco.
Greene didn’t necessarily expect a future in coaching when he was a player. But he tried a desk job—in what he refers to as the “civilian world”—after he retired and he didn’t exactly take to it. He felt a void and had to find a way to get back in the game.
“It’s hard to replace sacking Joe Montana, and the next week going to Denver and knocking around John Elway, and Dan Marino the following week, or Phil Simms or whoever,” Greene said. “It’s hard to replace that. But this is pretty close.”
When the Packers hired Greene in February 2009, his coaching experience basically amounted to a handful of internships with NFL teams.
But Greene’s former coach and current boss, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, believed Greene had something to offer for a team that had struggled under former coordinator Bob Sanders and was about to make a challenging transition to Capers’
“Kevin takes a lot of pride in everything he does,” Capers said. “And he did that as a player. He used to take more tape home and study more tape, he could call out all the little things ... and he made the guys around him better. And I think he’s exceeded my expectations for him as a second-year coach.”
And Capers, who coached Greene as a defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh and a head coach in Carolina, believes he belongs in Canton.
“I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of really good outside linebackers,” Capers said. “And I think what he brought to the table, and what he was for the team, the intensity and the passion that he played with and the production, I think certainly warrants consideration.”
Greene played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Panthers. He had 160 career sacks, No. 3 all-time behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White and No. 1 among linebackers.
Like so many others, Greene struggled to find a purpose after his playing days were over.
“I ended up getting my broker’s license in real estate in Florida,” Greene said. “It was tough. I opened my own sole proprietorship, just working out of my basement more than anything. It just didn’t have that satisfying feel to me. Not like being with the players, making plays and winning games and feeling that passion.”
He got serious about coaching, and Capers was one of the people he called. Once he got the Packers job, Greene relied primarily on his experience as a player.
“I mean, you just be yourself, and coach from your heart,” Greene said.