Former NFL star and new Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Greene only lived in Granite City for four years while his father was stationed in the military, but the love affair between Greene and his adopted hometown has never wavered.
Greene, a 1980 Granite City South graduate whose 160 career quarterback sacks are the third-highest total in NFL history, will be honored again by having Granite City’s football field named in his honor. It will be called Kevin Greene Field.
“Its well-deserved,” Granite City Athletic Director John Moad said Wednesday. “He’s an NFL Hall of Famer and not too many schools have that. He still comes back and speaks to our kids a lot and has made donations behind the scenes, never really looking for his name to get out there. He just does it because he’s got a lot of pride in Granite City — and we’re very proud of him.”
The field naming idea was planted by one of Greene’s former football coaches at Granite City, current school board member Jerry McKechan, along with a group of Greene’s friends that includes best friend Bob Firtos.
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The proposal passed with unanimous approval Tuesday night by the school board.
Greene, 53, waited five years as a finalist before getting the call in February that he was headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.
Greene’s path to the Hall of Fame wasn’t easy, beginning as a walk-on at Auburn and later playing well enough there to become a 1985 fifth round pick of the Los Angeles Rams. He played eight seasons with the Rams before later playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers in a career that spanned from 1985 to 1999.
Greene’s 160 career quarterback sacks rank third in NFL history and he collected at least 10 sacks 10 times. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Greene also was a three-time All-Pro selection and five-time Pro Bowl selection.
Only Bruce Smith (200 sacks) and Reggie White (198) have more sacks than Greene in league history. Greene twice led the NFL in sacks, racking up a career-high 16.5 sacks for the Rams in 1988 and 1989.
Greene still visits Granite City on occasion and will be back in town at 2 p.m. May 21. He will participate in a “Meet Hall of Famer Kevin Greene” day that is doubling as a fundraiser for the Warriors’ high school band, which was invited to play at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in July.
Tickets are $20 and the event, being held at the school gym, includes a highlight video chronicling Greene’s career, plus remarks by Greene and a question-and-answer session. Visit gchsbands.com to purchase tickets or for more information.
The football field is part of Granite City’s Nelson Hagnauer Sports Complex. The facilities include Babe Champion Field for baseball and Gene Baker Field for soccer.
“We take a lot of pride in our past and we want to make sure our present student-athletes know about our past,” Moad said. “There’s a lot to be proud of in Granite City and we’re doing our best to let our athletes be aware of that, to take pride when you walk onto those fields.
“This is very fitting to have Kevin Greene’s name on our football field. Hopefully he can come back in the fall and we can do a proper dedication. We’ll definitely to something to recognize him again.”