Notebook: Something About Mean Joe

<b> PITTSBURGH - </b> The last time Joe Greene came back to Pittsburgh for a football game, he was an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins. <br><br> "Coming out on the field, it was emotional for me," said one of the greatest players in Steelers history.

Greene now coaches the defensive line for the Arizona Cardinals, and the emotions should be easy to control this time, particularly since his old stomping grounds have been torn down. Perhaps that in itself will be cause for a little emotion, particularly when he emerges from the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

"One of my favorite lines when I come to Pittsburgh is borrowed from Mel Blount," Greene told Pittsburgh reporters via conference call Thursday.

"When we would come through the Fort Pitt Tunnels and look to the left, I could always proudly say, 'You see that stadium over there? We kicked a lot of ass over there.' I can't say it anymore. Maybe I can talk about the location."

As they say in the world of sentimentality, it's NOT about location, location, location. It's about the little things that bring back the big memories, and Greene has plenty.

Considered the first true building block of the Super Steelers of the 1970s, Greene was drafted out of North Texas State in 1969 and played 13 years. He led the Steelers to four championships, was named to 10 Pro Bowls and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

Greene coached the Steelers' defensive line from 1987-91, the Dolphins' line from 1992-95 and the Cardinals' line from 1996 to the present. He was asked if he had any desire to become a head coach.

"I don't think so," Greene said. "I'm having a problem with the earrings and all the jewelry and the Rastafarian look and the dancing in the end zone and getting in the head coach's face. I don't know if I could survive in that environment."

Greene has proven to be a survivor in almost any environment. He had the heart - perhaps was the heart - of a champion, but did go through the 1-13 season with the Steelers in 1969. In fact, one of those losses came at the hands of the Cardinals. It was the last time they won in Pittsburgh. But Greene was asked if he had any answers for this year's 2-6 Steelers.

"You believe in the things that have been successful for you," he said. "You believe in the coaching; you believe in the teaching; you believe in what you are trying to get done and you keep pressing. You keep pressing and the thing about a football team, you have to get 53 guys playing simultaneously on the rope at the same time. That is the art of coaching, even when you have a good football team and good people.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers have been here before and they have come out of it. I am sure they will come out of it again, but I don't want them to come out of it this week. They have good people there. They have a coaching staff that has won before and knows how to win. They have an organization that is very supportive and they know what it takes to win in this league today. So I am sure what is happening with that group is not panic."

Cardinals quarterback Jeff Blake doesn't know Pittsburgh as well as "Mean Joe" Greene, but almost. His 14 career touchdown passes against the Steelers ranks at the top of his personal-best list alongside the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers.

"I like playing against Coach (Bill) Cowher," Blake said. "It's really me against him every time I see him. It's a great competition between us and I really enjoy it. Every time I look at the sideline I'm watching him and he's watching me. It's a good rivalry between me and him." Blake wanted to play for Cowher this season. When he learned the Steelers were looking to sign a quarterback, he gave them a call last spring and was invited to visit. Of course, the Steelers were only looking for a backup and Blake went off to Arizona.

"If I didn't have another place to go and start, I probably would've went to Pittsburgh to be the backup," he said. "I always wanted to have an opportunity to play for Coach Cowher."


Plaxico Burress missed practice a second consecutive day to rest his injured shoulder, but is expected to return Friday. He's listed as probable for Sunday's game.

Tight end Jay Riemersma practiced for a second consecutive day and Cowher is hopeful Riemersma's injured knee will be healthy enough to make his sixth start this season. "It's gotten better each day," Cowher said.

Steel City Insider Top Stories