Cardboard Hero: Joe Greene 1979



I don't often blog about football cards - an exception being when I was giving away late '70s and early '80s football cards last May or so.

But I collected football cards as a kid and those particular cards mean a lot to me. I really only cared about finding Steelers but I held onto about everything I opened.

The Steelers were my team. Still are - and, I reckon, always will be. Sure, the Colts moved to my homeland Indiana a few years later - but by then the Steelers were firmly entrenched as my favorite. Nowadays, I cheer for the Colts as long as they're not facing the Steelers. And, I've always had a soft spot for the Lions and Packers, for various reasons.

One of my favorite football cards from my collection as a youth is this very card.

Mean Joe Greene was the Steelers to me. He was the icon. Sure, others thought that way about Terry Bradshaw - and I liked him, too - but it was Mr. Greene who was the face of the franchise to me. Well, Mr. Greene and Jack Lambert - and, OK, Franco Harris and Jack Ham and Rocky Bleier and Mel Blount and John Stallworth.

This card is certainly my favorite Joe Greene card - perhaps largely because this was the first set I collected. 1979, incidentally, is also the year this iconic TV ad appeared.
Greene's given name is Charles Edward Greene, by the way. He got the "Mean Joe" because his alma mater, the University of North Texas, is nicknamed the Mean Green. "Joe" comes from, well, beats me.

Time marches on. Greene, widely considered one of the greatest defensive linemen ever, and a cornerstone of the Steelers' legendary "Steel Curtain" defense, is now 65. He was an assistant NFL coach for 16 years before becoming special assistant for player personnel for the Steelers in 2004 - and then winning two more rings in that capacity.

Like many of my favorite cards, the close tie-in with my youth and entry into this awesome hobby means a great deal and I'm sure many such cards will be shown over the life of "The Cardboard Heroes" - my developing blog feature created to help me keep track of my all-time favorite cards.

Joe Greene 1979, a true cardboard hero.


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