Greg Lloyd’s Disposition Brought Back Super Bowl Swagger To Steelers Defense

No NFL player was feared more than Greg Lloyd from 1990-96. 

When it comes to electrical engineers, most are quiet, analytical, and like to create and make improvements to existing electrical systems. Then there was Greg Lloyd. Drafted by the Chuck Noll in the 6th round of the 1987 NFL Draft, out of Fort Valley St (Ga), Greg Lloyd spent the better part his career with the Steelers engineering terror filled nightmares for quarterbacks and destroying offensive systems throughout the league. Lloyd was the emotional and fiery leader out of a talented young threesome of defense players drafted by Chuck Noll, including Rod Woodson and Carnell Lake, that helped lead the Steelers back to the Super Bowl in January of 1996. After missing most of his first two seasons with two separate knee injuries, Greg Lloyd set the tone for what his 10 year career with the Steelers would be like, when he got ejected from his first NFL game for punching Broncos quarterback Gary Kubiac. 

From the get go, Greg Lloyd had a great respect for the Steelers great “Steel Curtain” defenses of the 70’s, their Hall of Fame linebackers, and was dead set on him and his teammates living up to that legacy. From the time Lloyd became a starter in 1989, he held every member of the defense as accountable as he held himself, and accepted nothing less than a 100% effort. Undersized at 6’1″/228 lbs, Greg Lloyd quickly became the most relentless and feared player in the game, as well as a 3x All-Pro and a 5x Pro-Bowler between 1991-1995. While his on the field intensity may have gained Lloyd his reputation, it was being a student of the game that got him his accolades, including being voted a 2x Pittsburgh Steelers MVP, and the 1994 UPI AFC Defensive Player of the Year. 

It wasn’t awards that drove Greg Lloyd though, he wanted a Super Bowl ring, and he wasn’t about to let his opponents…..or his teammates get in his way. As much as Lloyd loved destroying quarterbacks, he had no problems going after teammates who he felt were giving less than 100%, especially those on the offensive side of the ball, especially during the early 90’s as the Steelers were edging closer to the Super Bowl. As scathing and divisive as Lloyd’s admonishments could be, his words and actions had a galvanizing effect during 1995 season. After the Steelers lost Rod Woodson for the season, he called the team together for a meeting where his words inspired everyone in the room and gave his teammates something to think about. Lloyd’s actions may have provided the turning point in the season, when following a gritty overtime win over the Bears in November, he seemed to have galvanized the team by giving a post game hug to quarterback Neil O’Donnell for a game well played. 

Despite being “Just Plain Nasty” and having the desire to knock every quarterback he faced out of the game, ultimately, Greg Lloyd was a man who just wanted to win, and he demanded that everyone he played with want to win as badly as he did. While he mostly let his actions do his talking for him on the field, is it really trash talking if you back it up?, he was never shy about expressing his feelings off the field. He never said the things he did to garner headlines, but because that was truly how he felt, and he didn’t care who liked it or not. Can you imagine how Commissioner Roger Goodell would react to some of these quotes?

“This thing belongs to Mr. Rooney and it belongs here. Let’s see if we can bring the damn thing back here next year, along with the f****** Super Bowl.”

“We’re no more than cattle. When you come into this business, you have to realize, ‘I’m just a piece of meat. As long as I get the job done, I’m here. But when I can’t get it done anymore, it’s like — next guy.'”
“If I wanted to hurt a quarterback and knock him out of the
game, I’d go for his knees. When you hit him high, that’s just football.”

“You can’t be a nice guy on the field. You have to play like you’re chasing somebody who robbed your house and is running down the street with your television set.”

“This isn’t one of those games — unlike the commissioner and all those SOBs want it to be — to put on PBS so all the little kids can watch it, and they can show it in the classroom. It’s not a game like that. It’s a violent damn game. It’s a
game that players play with anger, frustration and emotion. And’s that how I play the game. If people don’t like it, so be it”

“If you want to be the best, don’t let there be any discrepancy about being the best. If we have to bite, we’ll bite. If we have to spit, we’ll spit. If we have to scratch, we’ll do that.”

“Who is Joe Namath? This is a guy who, if he played in the league today, I’d probably just go hit him late and see what he did, just for the hell of it. Joe Namath can go to hell.”

 “I can do 100 things right, but when I do one thing wrong, everybody jumps on me. It’s like I’ve got ‘666’ etched in my scalp.”

Greg Lloyd was the epitome of a Steelers linebacker, who Dan Rooney thought would fit in perfectly with the Steelers of the 70’s. He also would have made the ideal bookend for either Joey Porter or James Harrison as well. Greg Lloyd bridged the gap between two Super Bowl era’s in Pittsburgh, and brought violence and nastiness back to the defense. Whether it was a huge strip/sack or a forced fumble that changed the momentum or put a game away, Lloyd often warned people what was coming and they still couldn’t stop him. From 1990-1996, Greg Lloyd was the most feared defensive player in the game, and while Lloyd may never achieve Hall of Fame status, he has earned immortality as a Steelers legend. 

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