NFC South: Kevin Greene

In a league that shines the spotlight on individual achievements, former Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Kevin Greene was shunned for his -- once again.

Greene on Saturday failed for the third straight year to make the cut from the final 15 to selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A veteran of 15 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Panthers, the five-time Pro Bowler remains the only player among the top four in the NFL in sacks not in the league's shrine.

No. 1 Bruce Smith (200 sacks), No. 2 Reggie White (198) and No. 4 Chris Doleman (150.5) already are in.

Greene had 160, 41.5 with Carolina (1996, 1998-1999) where he ended his career in 1999.

Some argue Greene was a one-trick pony, that he collected his sacks playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Some argue he wasn't a great all-around defensive player.

That is sort of like saying Dominique Wilkins was a great dunker, but he shouldn't be in the basketball hall of fame because he wasn't great on defense.

Or that Denver quarterback Peyton Manning throws a lot of touchdown passes and wins a lot of games, but he's not much of a runner.

Green played in six conference championship games and one Super Bowl. He helped Green Bay win a Super Bowl as an outside linebackers coach, a position from which he recently resigned to spend more time with his family.

Teams he's been around have been better because of the pressure he put on some of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game.

"I guess it wouldn't be such a letdown if I knew my stats and my production didn't match up to those that are going in or have gone in," Greene told me this week as he tempered his hopes of making the Hall.

"The Hall of Fame voters, if they would look at my entire body of work, how I played, maybe they'll see fit to put me in. ... commitment, passion, study habits, workout habits ... everything I did I think I did it the right way."

Greene will make it one day. In a league where individual accomplishments are glorified, it only makes sense.

My quirky memory of Kevin Greene

January, 30, 2014
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The door opened to a room adjacent to the Carolina Panthers locker room. Standing there was an imposing figure with long blond hair. He ushered me in and then put one hand in the chest of the team's communications director, a not-so-subtle hint that he should wait outside.

The door was closed. Locked. The shades were pulled.

My heart raced.

I wondered if this man that eventually would sack more quarterbacks than anybody in NFL history not named Bruce Smith and Reggie White was going to zero in on me.

Instead, he sat down and apologized.

Former Carolina outside linebacker Kevin Greene is one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When I thought of memories from his three seasons with the Panthers, this one stood out.

Not because he apologized. But because it showed the great passion that epitomized his career that began in 1985 with the then-Los Angeles Rams and ended in 1999 with the Panthers.

Greene laughed about that moment when we walked earlier in the week. He again apologized if he had offended me.

If you're wondering why he apologized on this day in 1996, it was over a locker room confrontation we had the day before. He didn't want to talk about his first meeting against the Pittsburgh Steelers since leaving the team in free agency, and let me know it in a loud way.

When I think of Greene, I think of loud. I think of passion. It's what made him so relentless at getting to the quarterback 160 times, which trails Smith with 200 and White with 198.

Forty-one and a half of those sacks came at Carolina. He had a league-best 14.5 in 1996, teaming with Lamar Lathon (13.5 sacks) to lead the Panthers to the NFC championship in the organization's second season.

That same passion is what led to Greene being released by Carolina following the 1996 season after a lengthy contract dispute, what led him to return in 1998 after a year with San Francisco to lead the team in sacks with 15, what led to him to be suspended for a game during the '98 season for attacking an assistant coach on the sideline.

"One of the reasons Kevin is a good player is that he is an emotional guy,'' then-Carolina coach Dom Capers said after Greene attacked assistant Kevin Steele. "But [he] hew he was wrong.''

He did. Greene was almost in tears apologizing after the game.

"I lost my composure in the heat of the moment," Greene said at the time. "It's an emotional game and I will apologize to the entire team tomorrow."

Capers knew that emotion and passion is what made Greene special and at the same time seem . . . well, out there, which may explain his brief career as a professional wrestler.

It's why in 2009, as the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, Capers made Greene his outside linebackers coach.

It may be why Greene, without warning, recently left the Packers to pursue other opportunities and focus on his two children.

That Greene did this somewhat spontaneously shouldn't come as a surprise. Emotional and passionate people often make spontaneous decisions.

They often say and do things that they later come back and apologize for.

But that same passion is why Greene had a career that makes him worthy of serious Hall of Fame consideration.

He owes nobody an apology for that.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Kevin Greene was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 on Thursday.

Greene began his career in 1985 with the then-Los Angeles Rams, where he played until 1992. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1993-95, then came to Carolina in 1996 to be a part of coach Dom Capers' 3-4 zone blitz scheme.

He signed with the San Francisco 49ers for the 1997 season, then returned to Carolina in 1998 and retired after the 1999 season.

Greene was selected to five Pro Bowls, the final two times (1996, '98) with Carolina. He finished his career with 160 sacks, third on the NFL's all-time list.

His 15 sacks in 1996 were a Carolina single-season record until defensive end Greg Hardy tied it this season.

Now in his fifth season as the outside linebackers coach at Green Bay, where Capers is the defensive coordinator, Greene had been a semifinalist for the Hall the past seven seasons.

Among the top 12 sack leaders in league history eligible for the Hall, only Greene and Leslie O'Neal haven't made it.

The knock on Greene is he was a pass-rushing specialist and not an all-around player when it came to run support and pass coverage. That may ultimately keep him from getting into the Hall this season with defensive ends Michael Strahan, fifth on the sack list at 141.5, and Charles Haley among his competition.

The Class of 2014 will be selected on Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl.

NFC South programming notes

February, 2, 2013
2/02/13
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NEW ORLEANS -- I’m about to head over to take part in the meeting to select the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.

By late afternoon, we’ll find out if former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp and former Carolina Panthers linebacker Kevin Greene made the cut and I’ll have analysis if the NFC South has a new Hall of Famer (or two).

And there is one bit of news I want to touch on before I run. The Bucs reportedly have hired Dave Waanstedt to coach their special teams. Wannstedt's history is as a defensive coordinator, but he did handle special teams while he was the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Wannstedt also has plenty of NFL experience. He's been a defensive coordinator for several teams and also was a head coach for the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. Wannstedt hired Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano as a defensive assistant when he was in Chicago.

In the meantime, please keep checking back here. I have another item scheduled to post in a few hours to help pass the time while I’m in the meeting. If any news happens between now and the end of the meeting, I’ll weigh in on it when we get to a break.

Also, it could be a busy night in the NFC South as all the major awards are announced. I’d say Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly has a good shot to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin is probably a long shot to win Offensive Rookie of the Year because he’s up against some big-name quarterbacks. Atlanta’s Mike Smith might get some votes for Coach of the Year, but he also probably is a long shot.

If there are any award winners from the NFC South tonight, I’ll put my spin on it soon after the announcement is made.

Warren Sapp a step closer to HOF

January, 11, 2013
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So far, it looks like the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters are focusing solely on the on-field accomplishments of former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

That’s the way it should be. When it comes to Hall of Fame inclusion, what a player did on the field is the only thing that’s supposed to matter.

Sapp was the best defensive tackle of his generation, and that alone should be enough to get him elected on the first ballot. But I’ve worried that some voters might hold Sapp’s personality against him. In his playing days, Sapp could be vicious, and he didn’t make a lot of friends in the media. There also are tons of stories floating around Tampa, Fla., about how Sapp often was rude to fans.

That’s unfortunate, but none of that is supposed to matter when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Apparently, voters are putting Sapp’s personality aside.

The Hall of Fame announced Friday that Sapp is one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Class of 2013. Former Carolina linebacker Kevin Greene also made the cut. Former Atlanta and New Orleans kicker Morten Andersen didn’t make the lists of finalists. Former Tampa Bay safety John Lynch also was left off the list.

I think Lynch and Andersen eventually will make the Hall of Fame. But it’s difficult to get a kicker in the Hall of Fame, and safety is another position that isn’t all that well represented. It’s going to take some time, but Lynch and Andersen might get their shot in a year when the class isn’t so strong.

We’ll find out if Sapp gets in when the final voting takes place the day before the Super Bowl.
At a dinner for his charitable foundation a few weeks ago, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton talked about how he wants to embrace Charlotte.

Newton
Newton
As a rookie last season, Newton spoke to the media only when required and kept a low profile. He even caused a bit of a panic among fans when he made some comments that implied he was too big for a small market.

But it looks like Newton is putting down roots in the Queen City. In addition to getting more active in the community with his foundation, Newton has found a home.

He recently bought a $1.6 million condo in Uptown Charlotte. One of his neighbors will be basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who now owns the Charlotte Bobcats. Given the fact that the Bobcats had one of the worst seasons in NBA history and are drawing all sorts of criticism, Newton might be the most popular resident in his building.

Charlotte never has had a true national sports superstar. Julius Peppers was big, but he never embraced the community. Larry Johnson was a big deal when the basketball team in town was the Hornets. Steve Smith is a big deal and has spent his entire career with the Panthers. Sam Mills, Kevin Greene and Reggie White were big names, but they joined the Panthers at the end of their careers.

Newton has one big advantage on all of them. He’s a quarterback and that means an automatic spotlight. Kerry Collins had that once, but squandered it and lasted less than four seasons with the Panthers. If Newton continues to build on his rookie season and embraces Charlotte, then the city will embrace him. Newton has a chance to be the biggest thing ever in Charlotte, even bigger than Jordan.

Around the NFC South

February, 1, 2012
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Former New Orleans offensive lineman Willie Roaf and former Carolina linebacker Kevin Greene are this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists most often identified with NFC South teams. But there’s another tie. That’s seniors candidate Dick Stanfel. He did two stints as New Orleans’ offensive line coach and also was interim head coach for the Saints in 1980. But his main claim to fame was as a player. Stanfel was an offensive lineman for Detroit and was selected to the All-Decade team for the 1950s.

The Atlanta Falcons filled out their coaching staff with two moves that were expected. Glenn Thomas was promoted from offensive quality-control assistant to quarterbacks coach and Joe Danna was hired as defensive backs coach. Thomas has been with the team since 2008 and has a good relationship with quarterback Matt Ryan. Danna previously worked with new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in Miami the last two seasons and was a defensive assistant in Atlanta for two years before that. The Falcons also made Andrew Weidinger an offensive assistant. He spent the last four years in Atlanta, providing administrative help for the coaching staff.

Although the Panthers have unveiled a new logo, which is only slightly different from the past, there won’t be any major changes to their uniforms, Scott Fowler writes. The new logo will be incorporated into helmets and jerseys, but the uniforms will remain the same otherwise.

Former NFL coach Steve Mariucci said he believes Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is on his way to greatness. I don’t think Mariucci is the first to have that thought.

The Buccaneers reportedly haven’t given up all hope of bringing in Arizona receivers coach John McNulty as their offensive coordinator, even though the Cardinals refused to grant permission for an interview. The Bucs may make a plea straight to Cardinals ownership. I suppose a trade also would be a hypothetical possibility, but it’s hard to imagine a team giving up a draft pick for an assistant coach.
NEWARK, N.J. -- I’m not quite in New York, but I can see it across the river.

Anyway, lots to deal with before we get ready for Sunday’s playoff game between the Falcons and Giants. Most importantly, we’ll have Saturday night’s game between the Saints and Lions.

I’ll be taking part in the Countdown Live chat throughout the game. I’ll be joining colleagues Kevin Seifert and Jeff Chadiha, who will be at the game, along with Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson and ESPN Stats & Information. I’ll also provide a wrap-up soon after the game ends.

Also, a couple of other NFC South notes to catch up on. The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of 15 finalists from the modern era for the Class of 2012 and we have four guys with NFC South ties. The main one is former New Orleans offensive tackle Willie Roaf. The others are Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene and Tim Brown, who each had brief stops in the NFC South. The final voting will be held the day before the Super Bowl in February.

Also, the Falcons have granted permission for offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey to interview with the Miami Dolphins for their opening for a head coach. The Falcons previously gave Jacksonville permission to interview Mularkey. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have a vacancy and it wouldn’t be a shock if Mularkey becomes a candidate for that job.

Willie Roaf HOF semifinalist again

November, 22, 2011
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The Pro Football Hall of Fame just announced its list of 26 semifinalists for the Class of 2012 and we’ve got some NFC South ties.

Former New Orleans offensive tackle Willie Roaf has the strongest ties to the division, even though he left the Saints just as the NFC South was created. Roaf, who finished his career with Kansas City, narrowly missed election last year.

Then, we’ve got some other guys that weren’t primarily NFC South players, but spent small parts of their careers playing for teams in the division.

That includes former Carolina linebacker Kevin Greene and former Atlanta linebacker Clay Matthews and Falcons defensive end/linebacker Chris Doleman. After that you have to scrape for guys with NFC South ties.

Receiver Tim Brown finished his career with Tampa Bay. Longtime front-office leader Ron Wolf is best known for his work in Green Bay, but he did spend a few years with the Buccaneers in the 1970s.

Oh, there also is Bill Parcells, who almost coached the Buccaneers -- twice.

The semifinalists came after voters narrowed the list from 105 preliminary nominees. The list will again be reduced to 15 finalists in January and the final voting will take place the day before the Super Bowl.
The NFC South doesn't have a team in the Super Bowl. But it's got almost a full team of coaches.

Take a look at Green Bay's coaching staff and take a look at Pittsburgh's coaching staff. Between the two teams, there are 37 coaches. Twenty of them have either coached or played for an NFC South team and that includes Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy and Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin.

Here's a look at each staff and its NFC South ties.

Green Bay
  • McCarthy. Assistant coach with Saints, 2000-04.
  • James Campen, offensive line. Played for the Saints, 1987-88.
  • Dom Capers, defensive coordinator. Head coach Carolina Panthers, 1995-1998.
  • Tom Clements, quarterbacks. Assistant coach for the Saints, 1997-99.
  • Jerry Fontenot, assistant offensive line. Played for the Saints, 1997-2003.
  • Kevin Greene, outside linebackers. Played for the Panthers, 1996, 1998-99.
  • Ben McAdoo, tight ends. Assistant coach for Saints, 2004.
  • Chad Morton, special teams assistant. Played for the Saints, 2000.
  • Winston Moss, assistant head coach/linebackers. Played for the Buccaneers, 1987-90 and assistant coach with the Saints, 2000-05.
  • Darren Perry, defensive backs. Played for the Saints, 2000.
  • Jimmy Robinson, wide receivers. Assistant coach with Falcons, 1990-93 and assistant coach with Saints, 2004-2005.
  • Mike Trgovac, defensive line. Assistant coach with Panthers, 2002-08.
  • Joe Whitt Jr., cornerbacks. Assistant coach with Falcons, 2007.
Pittsburgh
  • Tomlin, 2001-05
  • Bruce Arians, offensive coordinator. Assistant with Saints, 1996.
  • James Daniel, tight ends. Assistant with Falcons, 1997-2003.
  • Al Everest, special teams. Assistant with Saints, 2000-05.
  • Garrett Giemont, conditioning coordinator. Assistant with Buccaneers, 2003-06.
  • Scotty Montgomery, wide receivers. Played for Panthers, 2000.
  • Kirby Wilson, running backs. Assistant for Buccaneers, 2002-03.

Deion Sanders, Kevin Greene make HOF cut

November, 28, 2010
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ATLANTA -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame just sent out its list of semifinalists for the 2011 election and there's not much in the way of NFC South ties.

It basically is only Deion Sanders, who spent part of his career with Atlanta, and Kevin Greene, who spent only a small part of his career with Carolina, who are the only ones with anything close to strong NFC South ties.

Tim Brown, who spent a little time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of his career, also made the cut.
The final injury reports of the week are out, so let’s take a quick run through the injuries that matter most across the NFC South.

Saints. Coach Sean Payton went ahead and already declared running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush out. Same for cornerbacks Randall Gay and Tracy Porter. What’s it all mean? Get ready to see a lot of Ladell Betts and Julius Jones at running back and rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson. On a positive note, linebacker Scott Shanle, who was added to the injury report during the week, is listed as probable.

Falcons. They only have two injuries of real note. Defensive end John Abraham is listed as questionable with a back injury and was limited in Friday’s practice. Abraham is a veteran guy and things like this are going to happen, but I think he’ll be on the field Sunday, if at all possible. On the flip side, rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon also is listed as questionable with a knee injury and did not participate in practice. The Falcons aren’t going to rush their first-round pick back onto the field and risk making the injury worse. That decision is made a little easier by the fact they have a very competent alternative in former starter Stephan Nicholas.

Eagles. We’re going to step outside the division on this one for obvious reasons. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said quarterback Michael Vick (ribs) will not start against the Falcons, his former team. Kevin Kolb will get the nod. But it appears to be at least a possibility Vick still could play. Vick is listed as questionable and took part in Friday’s practice on a limited basis.

Buccaneers. As we’ve known for several days, center Jeff Faine is out and will be for at least a month. Rookie receiver Mike Williams (foot) returned to practice on a limited basis, but is listed as questionable. Cornerback Elbert Mack is questionable, which could mean some action for rookie Myron Lewis.

Panthers. They’ve got their bye this week. But the good news is we only have to wait another week for new receiver Devin Thomas to come in and carry this franchise to victories in its next 11 regular-season games and straight to the Super Bowl. In fact, I’m hearing rumblings that, now that the Panthers have Thomas on board, Jerry Richardson and John Fox are going to dinner tonight to hammer out a life-time contract for the coach. General manager Marty Hurney originally was supposed to attend, but he’s going to be on the phone with general managers in Chicago and New York. Apparently, upon hearing of the Thomas acquisition, Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins have demanded to be traded back to the Panthers. Also, linebacker Kevin Greene is pondering coming out of retirement to join the dynasty.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame just announced the 25 semifinalists for the Class of 2010 and former New Orleans linebacker Rickey Jackson has made the cut.

The list will be reduced to 15 in January and the final vote will be in February.

There is one player with ties to the other three NFC South teams on the list. But I don’t think Kevin Greene, Tim Brown and Chris Doleman, who spent brief stints with Carolina, Tampa Bay and Atlanta, respectively, truly qualify as NFC South guys.

Just a reminder, you can vote on who should be in the Hall of Fame here. I should note, your vote doesn’t really count toward anything, but at least you get a chance to get your opinion out there.

Calling all Rickey Jackson fans

November, 10, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Ever since we started ESPN.com’s NFL Blog Network, I have heard from a bunch of New Orleans fans who think linebacker Rickey Jackson belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

I agree.

Well, I’m not sure how much good this will do because it doesn’t decide the actual vote, which is done by a panel of writers and at least one broadcaster, however, you at least have a chance to voice your opinion.

It may be more of a marketing tool than anything, but the Hall of Fame has created Fans Choice 2010. I urge you to get over there and vote for Jackson. At the moment, I’m looking at this and he ranks 33rd. That’s not doing him justice.

Also, New Orleans fans and Carolina fans can vote for Sam Mills and several other former Saints. Speaking of former Panthers, you can also vote for Kevin Greene. He’s ahead of Mills at the point I’m checking the voting. If you want my opinion, put Mills ahead of Greene -- pretty please. Mills was a much more complete player and a better guy.

If you’re an Atlanta fan, Darryl Talley and Cornelius Bennett are the two leading candidates right now. I’d argue that Dan Reeves belongs ahead of them.

Tampa Bay fans, the pickings are slim. If I had to suggest one former Buc it would be Doug Williams. Be patient, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and John Lynch will get their turn in time.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

The Pro Football Hall of Fame released the preliminary nominees for the Class of 2010 on Saturday and there are plenty of candidates with NFC South ties.

I’d say the NFC South candidates clearly are headed by former New Orleans linebacker Rickey Jackson. After that, there’s a pretty far drop off. Sam Mills and Dan Reeves might be legitimate candidates. Doug Williams might even fall into that category.

The rest of the list of guys with NFC South ties is Cornelius Bennett, Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, Jay Hilgenberg, Mike Kenn, Dexter Manley, Clay Matthews, Eric Metcalf, Hardy Nickerson, Bum Phillips, Gerald Riggs, Reggie Roby, George Rogers, Pat Swilling and Darryl Talley.

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