Steelers to retire Greene's No. 75

LATROBE, Pa. -- Joe Greene always stood out, even on the Pittsburgh Steelers teams that won four Super Bowls from 1974 to 1979 and later sent nine players as well as coach Chuck Noll to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And what had been understood since Greene retired in 1981 -- that his No. 75 is off limits -- became official on Wednesday.

Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and team president Art Rooney II announced that the organization will retire the number that Greene made famous during a storied career in which the defensive tackle earned 10 invitations to the Pro Bowl and twice was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Steelers will honor Greene during their Nov. 2 game against the visiting Baltimore Ravens.

Greene's number will become just the second that the Steelers retire, and the player known as "Mean Joe" will join Ernie Stautner in achieving that distinction.

Stautner, also a defensive tackle, had his No. 70 retired in 1964.

"I think Joe is the obvious person from the '70s teams to go first in terms of having his number retired," Rooney II said. "We're excited to honor him. We really thought about doing this off and on many times but the hesitation was where do you stop?"

Rooney II said the Steelers simply reached a point where they wanted to bestow the greatest honor on Greene, the first draft pick of the Noll era, and that the organization will figure out later which other numbers they will retire and when.

The Steelers talked with Greene in the spring just to make sure he was comfortable with the organization retiring his number.

"Very surprised and I almost fell out of my seat," Greene said in a series of quotes released by the Steelers. "It's just overwhelming to think about. Retiring jerseys is not something that the Steelers do. That makes it even more significant."

Dan Rooney called Greene "the cornerstone" of the teams that transformed the Steelers from also-rans into perennial champions.

"He is a special guy," Rooney said. "He made it what it meant to be a Steeler."