Back in May, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Famer ‘Mean’ Joe Greene officially retired from his duties in the team’s front office. Greene did not leave quietly and had some parting comments as he left the organization he had been with since 1969.
I went back and re-visited some of what I wrote the day after his announcement and I can’t help but wonder if his words shouldn’t have been taken more seriously in light of the Steelers’ 0-4 preseason followed by their current 0-4 start.
Greene said he became ‘frustrated’ with Steelers who made an issue of how much they were earning instead of focusing on uniting as a team to win. Green also said “In all my years of being with Pittsburgh, I never encountered a player taking a contract dispute into the season and letting that dispute affect the way he played. That’s a bad thing.”
That comment could be aimed any number of Steelers’ players in recent years who have had contract situations come up. Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders are recent examples of guys whose contracts were in great discussion but I think it goes much further than just contract issues.
Ironically, I had written an article just days before Greene’s announcement about how Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark was spending a great deal of his offseason in Bristol, Connecticut in hopes of landing a spot with ESPN when his playing career was over. I’m on record several times over as saying I don’t like the message it sends about where one’s priorities are.
Wouldn’t you know it? Guess who was ESPN again this week during the Steelers’ bye week?
I really think Mean Joe saw something he didn’t like and maybe we all should have seen it. He observed guys with goals other than what was best for the team and it frustrated him because that isn’t how he and his teammates did things. This isn’t to say guys in the 70’s didn’t have things going on the side, but when push came to shove; the success of the team came first.
So today when I see a lack of effort from Mike Adams or David DeCastro getting blown back five yards or Sanders throwing his arms up in disgust while a play is still going on I think of why Mean Joe walked away.
I really think he saw this coming and we should have too.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers.