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L.C. Greenwood, Steelers Defensive Lineman, 1969-1981

November 1, 2011

L.C. Greenwood:

First, can you let readers know what you are doing with yourself these days?

I have a number of things – business ventures I’m doing. Coal, electric marketing, electrical supply company…these are just some of the things.

How did you get involved in these business ventures?

I’ve been working at this since 1973. I decided I needed something outside of football while I was still playing. I knew my career wouldn’t last forever. The people I ran into while I played I talked to to help me take advantage of these opportunities for when my NFL career ended.

Like Chuck Noll said, getting on with your life’s work?

Exactly! I was preparing for my life’s work. Chuck was good about telling us about finding our life’s work after football. When he said that it opened my eyes – I didn’t think my career would last as long as it did.

Who helped mentor you as a rookie in 1969?

I was pretty much on my own. We all worked individually. Guys like Chuck Hinton and Ben McGee I hung out with – I guess they helped me because when I hung out with those older guys I watched them and learned something. There were a few of us rookie defensive linemen – me, Joe and some others that hung out with the older guys.

There were like twenty defensive linemen on the team at first – the Steelers brought in guys from other teams, from waivers….we all had great stories and learned from each other.

What made you stand out and win a roster spot?

I had more speed and quickness. I relied on that. I didn’t know as much about football coming out of the SWAC. I wasn’t nearly as big as the other guys so I had to use my speed. I wasn’t always in the right position but could use the speed to mess up plays.

How did Coach Noll handle the fact you were more raw at the position?

Chuck was also on the same level. He didn’t know about most of the other guys either. His first year he was just trying to find football players. He looked beyond the clouds to find me (laughing).

There was no technology like today – he didn’t have reports about me.

Were you recruited by Bill Nunn?

Bill Nunn covered the SWAC at the time. Not sure what influence he had if any in me being drafted by the Steelers. He signed me but Art Rooney was the guy who saw me.

I didn’t know who he was even until I got to Pittsburgh. Scouting just wasn’t that refined then. I remember Art Rooney from a game in Jackson, Mississippi. Played the Jackson Tigers – I had one of those games every player likes to have. After the game I was all banged up – bruised sternum, pulled groin and was all wrapped up with bandages when Art Rooney and a bunch of guys from the press were there. It was my first encounter with the press really. I didn’t take off my uniform – I didn’t want them to see all the bandages and how banged up I was.

So you’re a rookie on the 1969 team and Coach Noll is in his first season, trying to put it all together. How did he succeed?

I’m not sure he knows how he did it (laughing). Chuck did a great job of bringing the right people in and giving them a chance. He didn’t have a lot of players from big  schools. Hanratty, Lynn, Franco…a few, but not many. Most were from the small Southern schools.

Most of us had a hunger to show what small school guys could do. Chuck honed our skills. That hunger was what made us successful – so many guys came and went on that team.

Was there a time when you realized this team was going to be special?

There was no moment it all came together. I never looked at it like that. I think what happened is we all just enjoyed being good and being competitive. We wanted to compete. All these guys got on the same page and wanted to win. The coaches worked with us a lot – they were also great. There were a lot of great players – and people – on the team.

Who were the leaders on those early 70’s teams?

As Ernie Holmes said “We had a bunch of individuals.” I don’t think we had leaders, per se. Joe used to go around angry because we lost all the time  and some players looked up to him. But others didn’t pay attention to him because he was always so angry.

We were always so loose. It was pretty interesting. I don’t think people knew that. I don’t think Chuck knew on any given Sunday if we’d win or lose. Chuck would get so pissed in practice because no one was listening and practicing well. Then we’d play great on Sunday.

What was training camp like for you – anyone give you a tough time in practices?

I didn’t hate to go up against anyone. Camp was different for me. I liked camp. Not like the others. It was my time to get in shape. That was my attitude about camp.

During the season you’re all banged up – you can’t practice on skills during the season. You have to do that before the season. I used camp to get in shape. I didn’t look at it like it was hard – though it was abusive at times. I took it as a challenge – I knew it would help me during the season – I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to train during the season.

How do you like the new NFL – with the emphasis on being less physical and more focus on passing?

I don’t like it one bit. You can’t make it less physical. How in heck can you hit somebody and not be physical – especially when players are faster and stronger? Kids are not taught to make tackles anymore like we used to be. They tackle now with blocking techniques. But running that fast, with that size, you’ll hurt people that way.

Now, you don’t have to practice with pads. I think that’s detrimental to them. They are babying them. Now there are too many injuries – I think it’s because they aren’t in football condition. You have to hit, block and tackle. Now they aren’t used to getting hit when the season starts.

I don’t know why it upsets me so much now – it just looks like they don’t care about their future. You have to know how to hit and be hit and get used to it. The more you are hit the more you can take it. The new CBA – you can’t train bodies to take hits. Probably many injuries could be avoided if they trained better. Just my feelings…who knows, maybe the players are ok with it and being injured and collecting paychecks these days.

What would surprise most fans about those Steelers teams?

I think how loose those teams were. I don’t think a lot’s been said about that over the years. Guys from other teams got sick before big games and had their rituals. But we were just so loose. If fans came into the locker room before a game they’d probably would be surprised. These are Super Bowl champions??

Any last thoughts for readers?

Yeah – have them push for me in the Hall of Fame. It got to the point where I decided that since I wasn’t in yet I didn’t know what it would take to get in. I look at people there are in and their stats – and others say I have the stats and should be in too. My record proves I should be there. My teammates deserve to be there. People say we had the greatest defensive line – if not at least top three – ever in the NFL. So how do we only have one in the Hall of Fame? Something is wrong with that picture….

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