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GRANITE CITY – Kevin Greene has always been a goal-oriented person.
Those abilities to set goals for himself and working hard in everything he attempted has served him well in his life – and it started for him when he and his family arrived in Granite City in 1976. He was a part of a military family; his father was a colonel in the U.S. Army and had been assigned to the St. Louis area after a tour of duty in Germany.
Greene has now become one of the greatest athletes ever to emerge from Granite City, going from what was then Granite City South in Granite City's two-high school era to walking on to Auburn's football team and then being drafted in 1985 by the NFL's Los Angeles Rams to start a 15-year career that, in August, will lead to Greene being inducted as part of an illustrious eight-member class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Greene was in Granite City Saturday as part of a fund-raising event to help get the Marching Warriors band to Canton to take part in the Hall of Fame parade the weekend of the induction ceremony in Canton. He gave a talk about his experiences as a Warrior as part of the event; funds raised at the event go into a fund to help pay for the band to travel and participate in the induction weekend events.
“It definitely did start here in Granite City,” Greene said in an interview prior to the event. “I lived here in my freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years; I was 14, 15, 16 and 17 years old, but that's where the dream of doing something really special started here.
“I was dreaming about playing for the Auburn Tigers (Greene's family have been supporters of the Tigers; his parents are Alabama natives) back then; I knew, no matter what, whether I was going to get a scholarship or not, I was going to go down there, do my best and play for the Auburn Tigers.”
Greene did go to Auburn and play for the Tigers; he was drafted by the Rams the 1985 NFL Draft, in the fifth round, and started out as a special-teams player and eventually became one of the league's best pass rushers; his career mark of 160 sacks still ranks third on the all-time list. Greene played for the Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers in his career which ended following the 1999 season; he played with the Steelers' Super Bowl XXX team in January 1996, where they lost to the Dallas Cowboys.
After retiring as a player, Greene later went into coaching, being a part of the Green Bay Packers staff as an outside linebackers coach under Packer defensive coordinator Dom Capers, whom Greene played for with the Steelers and Panthers. Greene was a coach on the team that defeated the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV in February 2011, finally earning a Super Bowl ring.
Greene has many memories of his years in Granite City. “A lot of great memories,” Greene said, “playing on the field, being on the track team (as a high jumper), playing basketball, just a lot of great times. I keep a lot of contacts here with some friends of mine, coaches of mine like Jerry McKechan (who coached Greene on the Warrior football team as the defensive coordinator in that era).
“Even though I lived here four years, I consider (Granite City) my home. I'm happy to come back and help my old high school, basically raise money to help send the entire band to Canton so they can play in the parade; that's what I'm doing back and hopefully we'll put some money in the bank for those young boys and girls to do that (take part in the parade).
“It's an honor to be back; Granite City was good to me and I try to come back as often as I can; it's not as much as I would like to, but (Greene and his family) live in Florida, but nevertheless, Granite City is definitely in my heart.”
“It's going to be a cool time,” said GCHS band director Wyatt Roberds. “We'll take about 185 kids there, four charter buses; it's going to be a great time. We'll get some national exposure (the parade will be televised on NFL Network as part of the Hall of Fame weekend activities); for the band, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The band is taking donations through a page on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe; the address is www.gofundme.com/gcband2016 for those who wish to donate to getting the band to Canton.
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