Steelers have a long history of winning defensive player of the year awards
“Mean” Joe Greene, DT
He was the first Steelers’ defensive player to win the award and the only Steelers player to win the award twice. First winning it in 1972, he then won the award again in 1974 when the Steelers won their first Superbowl.
It’s tough to compare Joe to other players who came after him in the sense that unlike today, there is an incomplete stats record. Considering many defensive statistics did not start being recorded until the 1980s or 1990s. So we will never know how many tackles, quarterback pressures, or quarterback hits he had.
When he won the award in 1972, we know that he had at least 11 sacks and one fumble recovery. Then in 1974, when he won the award the second time, he only had nine recorded sacks but did have one interception with a 26 yard return and four fumble recoveries.
However, with Joe, statistics aside, nearly everyone agrees how talented he was. There was no question he dominated the line of scrimmage every time he stepped onto the field. Because of his talent, teams usually double-team him on the line of scrimmage. Because teams had to respect his talent, it usually allowed one of the other three down linemen to harass the quarterback. If no one double-teamed, he usually wreaked havoc in the offensive backfield.
Comparatively, Joe is probably one of the top ten defensive linemen ever to play. Having played in 10 pro bowls, he was named four-time all-pro and was the 1969 rookie of the year and helped the Steelers win four Superbowls.