To Delon and Major, Mean Joe Was Just Dad
DALLAS (AP) _ Ask the two sons of pro football Hall of Famer ″Mean″ Joe Greene about their best memory of their father’s 13-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and they’ll give you the same answer.
Both 17-year-old Delon, a senior linebacker at Duncanville High School, and 19-year-old Major, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle at North Texas State, recall the 1979 AFC Championship game against Houston. They remember the fans cheering their dad when he stopped Earl Campbell cold for minus yardage.
″Everyone in the crowd knew he had made the play,″ said Major. ″It was a crushing hit.″
Their pride is evident, yet both seek to distance themselves from their father’s accomplishments and forge their own paths.
Duncanville High School coach Dan Gandy has coached both sons of Greene, defensive tackle for North Texas State and the Steelers.
″It’s real hard to make a connection between Delon and his dad,″ said Gandy. ″He’s a very unique individual. He doesn’t have a lot of pressure on him to play football.
″But Major is a little closer to the situation,″ said Gandy. ″He had more insight into his dad’s career, I think, because he was a little older.″
The eldest Greene said his sons decided to play football on their own, but acknowledged that some people may unfairly draw comparisons between the two generations of Greenes.
″They’ve had experience with that over many, many years,″ he said. ″I’ve told them they can’t be held responsible for what I did in my career. They have to be free to be themselves.″
But Greene always stressed that if the boys were going to play, they had to work at it.
″My dad has made it a point to tell me to do the best I can,″ Delon said.
For Delon, doing his best has meant making the transition from playing defensive down lineman last season to middle linebacker.
″He’s a good-sized young man,″ said Gandy. ″He can be very aggressive.″
But Delon said there are still some rough spots.
″I’d like to improve on my aggressiveness,″ he said, noting four missed tackles against Pearce.
Meanwhile, Major is wishing for more playing time on a team where all seniors make up the defensive line but thinks his game will continue improving. He’d also like to play pro.
″There’s nothing that would make me happier,″ he said. ″The idea, at least right now, sounds great.″
While Major had little hesitation about choosing to play ball at his father’s alma mater, Delon is taking things slower.
″Right now, I would like to (play college football), but if it doesn’t happen I’ll find something else to do,″ said Delon.
However, Gandy is more optimistic about Delon’s chances.
″Physically and mentally, he will be a definite college prospect,″ said Gandy. ″He’s at the peak of his ability for high school.″
The Greene brothers share the values instilled in them by their father, such as the importance of good grades and good manners.
″He’s a yes-sir, yes-ma’am type of young man,″ said Gandy of Delon, who said he carries about a 3.8 grade-point average at Duncanville.
Joe Greene’s new duties as Pittsburgh’s defensive line coach has taken him away from his family in Texas and he said he hasn’t seen his sons play in a while.
But Delon and Major say their father has given them a pointer or two on occasion.
″He takes us out in the backyard to show us a technique,″ said Delon. ″I consider it great advice. What better coach could I have?″
But Greene, who made eight Pro Bowl appearances, said he isn’t pushing Major and Delon toward the pros.
″If it is their desire - only if it is their desire,″ he said.
Greene has taught his sons not to be burdened with other people’s expectations.
″All we can do is what we can do,″ said Major. ″If someone else has a problem with us not doing everything he did, then that’s their problem.″
END ADV Weekend Editions Sept. 26-27.