LATROBE – For the first time in 50 years, the Steelers are going to retire one of their jersey numbers.
Team chairman Dan Rooney and president Art Rooney II said Wednesday the No. 75 worn by Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene will be retired in a ceremony Nov. 2 when the Steelers host Baltimore.
It will mark just the second retired number by the Steelers, who also retired Hall of Fame defensive lineman Ernie Stautner’s number 70 in 1964.
“I’m overwhelmed with emotions,” said Greene, who also served as a coach and scout for the Steelers after his retirement in 1981. “I’m extremely pleased, and I know that Dan and Art put a lot of thought into making this decision.”
The decision to retire Greene’s number wasn’t an easy one. The Steelers had many great players in the 1970s and didn’t want anyone to feel snubbed. Perhaps they didn’t want to run out of numbers by retiring too many. But Dan Rooney said Greene meant so much to the franchise after it selected him in the first round of the 1969 draft.
“Joe was the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain,” Dan Rooney said. “This isn’t something you can do for everyone. He was a catalyst, and to retire his number is something we feel is a special thing.”
Greene’s No. 75 was one of five from the 1970s the Steelers did not issue to other players. The others are the No. 12 of Terry Bradshaw, the No. 32 of Franco Harris, the No. 52 of Mike Webster and the No. 58 of Jack Lambert.
None of those numbers was officially retired – until now.
“We’ve talked about (it) for a number of years,” said Art Rooney II. “I think we always had a feeling that, well, it would be nice, but where do you draw the line, and are there too many guys that you would wind up having too many numbers retired? Really, coming into this year … and coming up on the 40th anniversary of the first Super Bowl (victory), we felt it was the perfect time.”
In addition to being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987, Greene was a member of the All-Time NFL Team chosen in 2000, the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team, the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team and the 1970’s All-Decade Team.