Mean Joe Greene, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle who retired last week from the Steelers’ front office, has been around the NFL for almost half a century. And he doesn’t like all the changes he’s seen.
Greene told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that money has become too much of a focus of players these days, and he says it frustrated him in recent years when he saw players on the Steelers make an issue of who was making what, instead of focusing on how they could all unite to win.
“The scary thing is that players have a one-upsmanship about money; they sign a contract and they like it until someone signs a bigger one and now they don’t like it. I don’t like that,” Greene said, via ESPN.com. “I don’t begrudge anyone money but it disrupts the football team.”
Greene played on a Steelers team that was loaded with Hall of Famers, and he said none of his teammates ever allowed money to be a distraction.
“It’s an attitude change. 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,” Greene said. “I think that’s the attitude and direction that was so preeminent with the Pittsburgh Steelers; it was about family, it was about team, the organization. Everyone in the organization would get treated fairly because we were a family.”
Greene may be right, but those days aren’t coming back. Treating football teams like businesses, not like families, has made players a whole lot richer than they were in Greene’s time.