Kevin Greene looked downright professional.
Gone was the long blond hair that was a trademark of his playing days. Instead, Greene wore a suit — complete with his initials stiched on the cuffs of his shirt.
The professional attire, however, couldn't hide the passion for the game that defined the new Green Bay Packers outside linebackers coach's career.
"I truly loved playing football," the fit and animated Greene, who ranks third in NFL history with 160 sacks, said on Tuesday when the Packers unveiled their new coaches. "I loved hitting people. It's a brutal thing, but I really enjoyed it. Playing 15 years and had a great time doing it. I think as a linebacker, I think you really have to enjoy hitting people."
Of all of the Packers' new coaches, nobody is more intriguing than Greene. New defensive coordinator Dom Capers has a track record of success with this 3-4 scheme he helped create. New defensive line coach Mike Trgovac went from proven coordinator to position coach so he could work with Capers. New safeties coach Darren Perry was a big-time player who has worked with two All-Pros.
But Greene will garner plenty of attention because of his magnetic personality and his stellar playing career.
Greene, whose only coaching experience came during a series of training camp internships, hasn't been in the league full-time since his final season with Carolina in 1999. Why, a decade later, has Greene decided get back into the game?
"I was looking for the right opportunity," Greene said. "When this presented itself, Coach Dom — I love Coach Dom — it was just a neat thrill. They were looking for somebody to do this outside 'backer, and I said, ‘It may have my name on it, so I'm going to give them a call to see if I can at least get an interview.' I'm blessed that it all worked out."
Still, questions remain, and Greene is fired up to answer them.
How can Greene, with no real coaching experience, coach a bunch of players who have no experience as 3-4 outside linebckers?
"I'm going to try to break it down as — and Dom Capers is great at this," Greene said. "He's so definitive in how he wants to coach. He breaks it all the way down to the bare-knuckle level in how to do something. That's the way I'm going to do it. I'm going to coach the way I played the game, because I loved the game. I had a fire and a passion for the game, and that's the way I'm going to coach."
Is Greene, after such a long time away from the game, prepared for the 80-hours-per-week grind that awaits a coach?
"I think my players, it will be pretty evident to them early on in this thing that I'm very, very serious about the game of football," Greene said. "I enjoyed playing it, and it's going to come across that way."
Technique, Greene said, is "huge" at the position — he put plenty of emphasis on "huge." It will be up to him to teach that technique to players like Aaron Kampman, Jeremy Thompson and Jason Hunter, who were 4-3 defensive ends, as well as returning outside linebackers Brandon Chillar and Brady Poppinga. Somehow, someway, Greene must find a bookend to Kampman to make the defense work.
Match technique with passion, and productivity will follow. It will be up to Greene to impart those traits. The passion, it seems, comes naturally.
"You've got to have good techniques and fundamentals, but you've got to have a heart," Greene said. "You've got to have passion. You've got to have heart, passion, drive, desire, commitment, dedication, determination — all of that. All your love, all rolled up into one and playing with that snap after snap after snap. If you play with all that love and all that passion and all that intensity and all that fire, every play, then you've got a great chance of making good things happen for your team and for your defense. When you play with that and you're boned up on your techniques and fundamentals, then you've got a chance of doing some good, physical things."
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.