Hall of Fame pass rusher Kevin Greene sadly passed away at age 58 on Thursday afternoon. Greene was an elite talent throughout his illustrious career, which extended far beyond the football field. He also found success in the professional wrestling ring during his NFL playing days.
Kevin Greene’s Hall of Fame NFL career
The Auburn product quickly blew past expectation as he became an elite pass rusher. In his 15-year career, he posted double-digit sacks 10 times and at least 6.5 sacks all but twice. Greene spent the first eight years of his career as a cornerstone piece in LA before a three-year stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He followed that with a one-year run with the Carolina Panthers, then played one campaign with the San Francisco 49ers. Greene finished his career with his final two years with the Panthers. He stacked numerous individual awards with five Pro Bowl selections, three First-Team All-Pro nods, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, an NFC Defensive Player of the Year honor, and a selection to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.
Greene ranks third all-time with 160.0 sacks behind only Bruce Smith and Reggie White that helped earn a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2016. Following his NFL career, Greene took up coaching duties as the outside linebacker coach for the Green Bay Packers from 2009-2013. His last coaching stint came in the same role with the New York Jets from 2017-2018.
Kevin Greene found success in the wrestling ring
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Kevin Greene was more than a Hall of Fame talent on the football as he also excelled in the squared circle.
Greene rolled through a few brief stints in the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late 1990s. He made his debut in 1996 under the nickname of the “Mean Machine” as the tag team partner with former NFL defensive tackle Steve “Mongo” McMichael. Mongo heel turned on him in the match to join the legendary Four Horsemen.
Several months later, Greene returned to the ring in the WCW to exact revenge on Mongo, where he defeated him in a singles match. The star linebacker wrestled again in May 1997 at Slamboree in a 3-on-3 tag team match alongside Roddy Piper and Ric Flair, where they beat the NWO (New World Order) team of Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Syxx.
Greene entered the squared circle for the final time in 1998. He faced The Giant (now The Big Show) in a singles match. Following a disqualification due to interference from the NWO, Bill Goldberg came in to help him in the ring. After that event, he stopped his wrestling career as the Carolina Panthers put into his contract a “no wrestling” clause.
Legacy cemented in greatness
Kevin Greene was much more than a dominating force on the football field, as he was well-respected by his peers and coaches.
Greene earned recognition as one of the top defensive players throughout much of his playing days behind his elite pass-rushing ability. Many viewed him as the prototypical defensive end/outside linebacker that helped further revolutionize the game. He influenced many of the generations that followed him that aspired to mirror his longevity and dominance.
In each stop of his illustrious career, he became a crowd favorite through his toughness, passion for the game, and bubbly personality. His sudden passing has many around the NFL saddened by the loss.