With 160 sacks, Greene is the all-time NFL leader among linebackers and ranks third overall in NFL history behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White. He's in his third season as an assistant coach for Green Bay.
Two first-year eligible nominees – coach Bill Parcells and tackle Will Shields – are among the 15 modern-era finalists who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall of Fame's Selection Committee meets in Indianapolis the day before Super Bowl XLVI, on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
The list of 17 finalists:
— Jerome Bettis – Running Back – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
— Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— Jack Butler* – Cornerback – 1951-59 Pittsburgh Steelers
— Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
— Dermontti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
— Edward DeBartolo, Jr. – Owner – 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
— Chris Doleman – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
— Kevin Greene – Linebacker/Defensive End – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
— Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
— Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
— Curtis Martin – Running Back – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets
— Bill Parcells – Coach – 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
— Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
— Willie Roaf – Tackle – 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs
— Will Shields – Guard – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
— Dick Stanfel* – Guard – 1952-55 Detroit Lions, 1956-58 Washington Redskins
— Aeneas Williams – Cornerback/Safety – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
The merits of the 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees announced in August, (former Steelers cornerback Jack Butler and former Lions and Redskins guard Dick Stanfel) will be debated by the Hall of Fame election when the 44-member Selection Committee meets. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.
Between four and seven new members will be selected each year. No more than five modern-era nominees can be elected in a given year and a class of six or seven can only be achieved if one or both senior nominees are elected.
Greene is in his eighth year of eligibility. If elected Greene and/or Charles Haley (also a defensive end) would be the 23rd and/or 24th modern-era Hall of Fame linebackers, joining Chuck Bednarik (also center) Bobby Bell (also DE), Nick Buoniconti, Dick Butkus, Harry Carson, George Connor (also DT-OT), Bill George, Jack Ham, Chris Hanburger, Ted Hendricks, Sam Huff, Rickey Jackson (also DE), Jack Lambert, Willie Lanier, Ray Nitschke, Les Richter, Joe Schmidt, Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas, Andre Tippett, and Dave Wilcox.
Greene, a fifth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1985 NFL Draft, quickly developed into one of the most punishing pass rushers in league history. A walk-on at Auburn he was drafted into the NFL as a linebacker and played at that position for the majority of his 15-season career with the Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and San Francisco 49ers. He also saw some action at defensive end mostly during his tenure with the Rams.
He played primarily on special teams as a rookie and that year marked the only one of his career in which he did not register a sack (although he did have a sack in the playoffs). Although he did not have any starts in his second season he played in all 16 games and managed seven sacks. He added 6.5 sacks in 1987.
By his fourth season he had turned into a bona fide pass rusher for the Rams as he registered a career-high 16.5 sacks. Included in that total were his career-best 4.5 sacks in a 38-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the season finale that clinched a playoff spot for the Rams. The following year Greene matched his total from '88 when he again turned in 16.5 sacks. In all, Greene had double-digit sack totals ten times, a mark that put him second in the record book at the time. The only time he missed recording 10 sacks in any of his last eight seasons was when he had a team-leading nine sacks for the Steelers in 1995.
He was named to the Pro Bowl five times (once with the Rams, and twice with the Steelers and Panthers). Greene was selected first-team All-Pro in 1989 with the Rams, in 1994 with Pittsburgh and with Carolina in 1996. He captured the league sack title twice, the first time in 1994 and again in 1996.
Greene, a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s, played in six conference championship games and one Super Bowl. He led his team in sacks 11 times during his career and amassed 160 total sacks which ranked him third all-time following his retirement after the 1999 season. He also had three safeties, 26 opponent fumble recoveries, and five interceptions.
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