The year is 1975. America is fresh off the Watergate scandal and beginning to welcome Chuck Woolery into their living rooms. The energy crisis continues and war rages in Vietnam. In New Orleans, Minnesota and Pittsburgh are set to square off in Super Bowl IX, a battle of the two best defenses in the league. A dominate Steelers team shut down the Vikings and earned their first title in a decisive win. It’s here that the dynasty began.
Our Steeler family is strong, loyal and steeped in tradition. We are loud, opinionated and demanding of our players. Each year, we size up the new guys,waiting to see what they contribute before they can earn a spot in our black and gold hearts. We also say good bye, sometimes good riddance, to others. Every September we cheer for the start of the season and chatter about how this is our year, the beginning of our journey to another title. But our past is also something to be celebrated; the league’s best have suited up for the Steel city. Let’s stir up some old memories and celebrate the rich history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Each week we will re-live some glory days with one of the greats.
“Hollywood Bags” they called him back in the day, because he rocked the wardrobe and embraced the flair. Supposedly ready at a moment’s notice to jet off to LA, he anchored the left side of a defensive line that would become the benchmark for all future greatness to be judged against. Simply put, LC Greenwood was a reckless, freewheeling pass rusher, who was a nightmare for quarterbacks. He was a machine, leading the team in sacks for 6 of his 10 seasons, 70+ in his career.
LC came to the squad in 1969, at a time when he says, “you couldn’t even give away tickets”. Greenwood was a steal in the 10th round. It was first year Coach Chuck Noll who saw his 4.7 speed and 6’6″ frame and knew this guy would be devastating, giving quarterbacks little opportunity to escape his grasp. Turns out he was right. LC got his first start at defensive end in 1971. It was there he cemented his place, right next to a guy named Joe Greene, on what has to still be the greatest defensive unit ever. Maybe I’m biased, but so dominant was the left side of the D line, Jack Ham, the left outside
linebacker at the time, used to say he was left untouched for the first two quarters.
By the way, I didn’t know the Steel Curtain was named by a nine year old as a reference to Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain. Seriously what kid knows about an ideological fighting boundary in post war Europe? Why weren’t you playing with your pet rock and wishing you were an Oscar Mayer wiener like the rest of us? I digress.
LC, never shy to make a statement, took to wearing gold shoes on the field. Not standard issue, the Steelers faced a fine for each appearance they made, only about a hundred bucks, but back in the day a Benjamin was a big deal. LC once said he wore them because “we all live to be different”, but pressed further, he said it was to distinguish himself from Greene, because the commentators couldn’t tell
which one of them was smashing up the quarterback. He wanted his credit.
But it was his big paws that took over in Super Bowl IX. Just ask Fran Tarkenton, who had a few balls batted right back, courtesy of #68. LC and the guys held the Vikings to whopping 9 first downs and 119 yards of total offense. That’s ridiculous. And again a year later in SB X against the Cowboys, LC sacked Staubach three times.
Big games, big plays.
LC was a hard hitting, dominating force, but he also had a “lite” side. Click to watch.
In 1980, just a year after winning a 4th ring, LC and the Steelers D was facing some media comments that sound a little too familiar right now…. Take this quote from an SI article, written after 3 straight losses and a win over a ‘crippled’ Packers team.
In time of triumph in Pittsburgh, age was never a topic of discussion; but now it has been pointed out that the Steelers’ regular front four on defense average just under 32, that Greene and L.C. Greenwood are both 34, that these old fellows have lost the knack for the sack, and that when you can’t put heat on the opposing quarterback, you’re strictly a pigeon in this era of fly-boy football.
In all fairness, it WAS a rough start to the new decade, injured players led to a 9-7 record and no playoffs. Subsequent years told the same story with mediocre seasons and the retirement of some star players, LC in 1981. After an AFC Championship apprearance in 1984, the franchise skidded to its first string of losing seasons. The 80s were not good.
Now living in Point Breeze, he’s the president of an electrical supply business, one he started back in 1973. “Preparing for his life’s work” he says of the reason to start up a second career while just beginning his time in football. He enjoys the occasional round of golf and gives his time to youth charities in Pittsburgh. See him out and he still sports a nice pair of shades and a well tailored suit. Soft spoken at times, his pride swells when he talks about the old days, of hard hits and winning games.
LC has been on the final ballot for election into Canton twice, but hasn’t received enough votes to be enshrined. Is it because there are already too many Steelers in there? Hell, build us a wing. Some avid supporters of his have started a movement to put his bust where it belongs; you can join it via facebook: Elect L.C. Greenwood to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Thanks LC. For the memories.