This Greene Beret Still Dropping Qbs as Linebacker with Military Precision

Article excerpt

"Kevin Greene is from somewhere else. He's not from here. That guy is about chain of command, hitting the beaches, dropping the napalm bombs, guerilla warfare. You have to understand his lingo. He's a different breed of cat."

LeRoy Irvin, former teammate.

True, Kevin Greene is an Army brat who has lived in Kansas, Virginia, Germany - and Granite City.

True, his father is a Vietnam vet and a retired Army colonel.

Yes, his brother Keith is a veteran of the Gulf War, a Bronze Star honoree, and a major now stationed in Germany.

Yes, Greene himself has attained the rank of captain in the Army Reserves. In the National Football League, he has been known to show up for practice wearing combat fatigues, has been known to psyche up for games by playing military tunes.

Maybe he is from somewhere else, as Irvin suggests. Nah, says Greene, a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"That was back when I was much younger, back in my fourth, fifth year in the league," Greene said. "Now I'm a 10-year vet. I'm 32."

He doesn't even ride around in a tank anymore, giving orders as a company commander.

"I haven't done that in years," Greene said. "When I made the Pro Bowl, five years ago,I went inactive in the Reserves because I just had so much going on in the offseason."

The years have flown by. He's 15 years removed from his days as a 185-pound tight end/linebacker at what was then Granite City South High. He has no relatives remaining in the Granite City area, but still makes it back once or twice a year.

"I really enjoy coming back and telling the kids they've got to have a game plan," Greene said. "If they want a bright future, they've got to go to college. I've got some friends there, too."

Among them is Jerry McKechan, assistant principal at Granite City High who was an assistant coach during Greene's playing days.

"He has been so helpful to our high school," McKechan said. "He has been back every year. He has spoken to our athletes. We're going to get him back this spring to speak to the entire student body. Anything we've asked him to do, he's done."

Including once paying for 45 sets of shoulder pads for the team. For the last several years, he has been guest speaker at the awards banquet for senior athletes at the high school, which was split into North and South when Greene was there but since has merged back into one school.

"The money has not reached his head," McKechan said. "He calls back all the time, keeps contact with us."

And when Greene occasionally pops up at a Granite basketball game, McKechan says, "he'll sit and sign autograph after autograph."

Yes, they still love Kevin Greene in Granite City, and they still love to tell his story. He walked on at Auburn, made himself into a player, and now ranks as one of the better pass rushers in modern National Football League history, first with the Los Angeles Rams and now with the Steelers. …