When talking about football’s all-time great defensive players at any level, the name Joe Greene better come up pretty quickly. That’s how good the legendary defensive tackle was throughout his career, and he will finally be honored with a statue this fall.
Call it long overdue. Perhaps it was just meant to be. Regardless, “Mean” Joe Greene will be remembered forever with a 12-foot bronze statue outside of the main entrance of Apogee Stadium at North Texas, his alma mater, on September 29 in Denton, Texas.
Sculpted by Brian Hanlon — an artist who has made statues of Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal — the eight-foot statue with a four-foot pedestal will be revealed prior to the Mean Green football game against Louisiana Tech.
“I am overwhelmed by the thought of a Joe Greene statue at the University of North Texas,” Greene said. “It is beyond my wildest expectations that the university thought enough of me as a player and a person to bestow such an honor to me and my family. It will be special for my kids, grandkids and all the generations that follow to see their father and grandfather displayed in such a manner.”
Over 50 years ago, Greene, a Temple, Texas native and Dunbar High School alum, terrified offenses at North Texas to lead the Mean Green to a 23-5-1 record in his three seasons and becoming a consensus All-American in 1968. He is the only North Texas player to ever earn the honor.
After being selected No. 4 overall in the 1969 NFL Draft, Greene had a dominant career with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969-81.
Greene was selected to 10 Pro Bowls, won four Super Bowl titles (IX, X, XIII, XIV), was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1972 and 1974, and was named First-Team All-Pro another five times.
He also starred in one of the most iconic commercials of all-time, too.
He is a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team and his No. 75 jersey has been retired both by the Steelers and North Texas, which was named North Texas State during his playing days.
There is a case to be made that Mean Joe Greene, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame, is the most dominant defensive lineman to ever play the game.
So, getting a statue unveiled right after he turns 72 is definitely better late than never.