This summer, my first dedicated to the Black and Gold book will be coming out in stores entitled “100 Things Every Steelers Fan Should Know Before They Die.” The book, which is being published by Triumph Books, will be in stores and will retail for $14.95. We will have ordering info through Amazon as soon as it becomes available.
In the meantime, through the offseason, we’ll give Steelers Gab readers a sneak peek of some chapters of the book. Today is chapter 46, which talks about one of my favorite all-time Steeler players, the menacing Greg Lloyd. Enjoy!
The Steelers attitude on defense in the mid 1990’s was led by an angry man. That angry man used being drafted in the 6th round of the 1987 draft from small Fort Valley State, as well as never getting the respect he felt he deserved, to go out and punish players on a week in, week out basis. That player – Greg Lloyd. Wearing number 95, Lloyd made making big plays and inspiring teammates on defense a weekly occurrence. He was the mouthpiece of the early years of Bill Cowher’s coaching reign, and in his 11-year NFL career was named to five Pro Bowls and 3 NFL All-Pro teams.
He played every game angry, and came out each week with a passion to physically beat up the opposing offense. From his karate-like chop to knock the ball out of quarterbacks hands, to stopping running backs coming at him at full speed, Lloyd was truly a throwback linebacker. He could have played with the Steelers of the 1970’s, and while player like Jack Lambert and Jack Ham would have still gotten a lot of the press, Lloyd might have been as good as those guys during his tenure in Pittsburgh.
Lloyd’s Steeler career began when then coach Chuck Noll drafted him in 1987. He spent two seasons fighting back from a knee injury just to make it on the field, and once he was able to get on that field, he wanted to give his coaches a reason to keep him on it. He did. From a a knockout of Jets wide receiver Al Toon in December of 1990 to a goal-line stop of Patriots running back Leonard Russell a few weeks later, Lloyd always seemed to come up with a “Sportscenter” highlight.
When Cowher was hired in 1992 as coach, one of the first things he wanted to do was move Lloyd from the outside linebacker spot. It was a move that Lloyd balked at, and in the end, the player won out, and it was a good thing he did. While the Steelers defense starting taking on the attitude of their new coach, who also played linebacker, Lloyd was the leader. He and fellow linebackers like Hardy Nickerson, Jerrol Williams and David Little made life tough for teams each week.
Lloyd’s reputation only got larger as the hits kept coming. Former Oilers coach Jerry Glanville called him the meanest player in the National Football League, and Lloyd did his best to live up to that reputation wearing a ratty t-shirt under his jersey on gamedays that read “I wasn’t hired for my disposition.” He was never a media darling, but he was always a hit with the fans, who loved his jarring hits and his “just plain nasty” attitude that made the Steelers defense what they were.
The 1994 season may have been Lloyd’s best. Playing opposite Kevin Greene on the other side of the Steelers defense, Lloyd simply dominated games. He was voted as team MVP for the second time in his career, and was named the Defensive Player of the Year by UPI. He put up 91 tackles (73 solo), with a career high 10 sacks and 7 forced fumbles. He led the defense again in 1995, the season the team made the Super Bowl in a tough 27-17 loss to the Cowboys.
Then, just like that, it was basically over for Lloyd. He tore his patella tendon in his left knee of the third quarter of the first game of the 1996 season in Jacksonville, and then in 1997 he suffered an ankle injury in the final half of the season, which developed into a staph infection, ending his year and his Steelers career. He was released the following offseason, ending what was a memorable career for Lloyd, who was voted onto the Steelers 75th Anniversary team.
After one season with the Carolina Panthers, Lloyd retired, moving onto his second career where he could continue to bring it from a physical standpoint – teaching tae kwon do. The fourth-degree black belt has been teaching at a karate school in Fayetteville since 1998, and probably still uses the same intensity in the karate studio that made him a big fan favorite on the football field, and one of the best linebackers in Steelers history.
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