Joe Greene Retires as Steelers Scout with One for Each Thumb

Six Super Bowl rings will apparently have to be enough for Pittsburgh Steelers Legend “Mean” Joe Greene who yesterday announced he was retiring from his front office position with the Steelers scouting department.

It was no less than Greene himself who coined the phrase “One for the Thumb,” and when he did so a fifth Super Bowl seemed very much in reach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Greene continued playing into his mid-30’s, at the time this was a very mature age for the NFL, in pursuit of the additional hardware but was forced to retire with a bare thumb in after 1981.

Greene of course got a second shot at getting “One for the Thumb” in 1987 when Chuck Noll asked him to rejoin the Steelers as defensive line coach. Greene perhaps whiffed the possibility when he helped Noll make his story book run the playoffs with the 1989 Steelers, but alas they came up short.

Following Noll’s retirement, Greene was given serious consideration for the head coaching job, but Dan Rooney and Tom Donahoe ultimately decided to go in a new Direction with Bill Cowher.

No longer employed by Pittsburgh, Greene’s shot at the elusive “One for the Thumb” seemed to end, as went on to coach Don Shula’s last defensive lines in Miami, and then worked for the Arizona Cardinals until a coaching change cost him his job in 2003.

Joe Greene Comes Home, Makes Good on “One for the Thumb”

Greene however did not stay on the unemployment line for long. Dan Rooney offered him a job in the Steelers scouting department, where Greene began work in 2004 as Kevin Colbert’s “Special Assistant/Pro and College Personnel” where he focused on scouting college talent in the Southwest as well as pro talent, according to the Steelers media guide.

When he returned to Pittsburgh, the Steelers were coming off a 6-10 season, and Pittsburgh Shock Jock Mark Madden lambasted the move as “Window Dressing” designed to disguise a off season of horrendous free agent moves such as the decision to sign Duce Staley (and eventually draft Ben Roethlisberger).

  • The next season the Steelers went 15-1 and a year later they won Super Bowl XL

…Ah, perhaps Mr. Madden would like that one back.

By 2005 the term “One for the Thumb” had fallen out of favor with Steelers management if not the fans, but Joe Greene nonetheless finally got his fifth ring for Super Bowl XL and later earned a sixth for Super Bowl XLIII.

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