One of the best sack artists in NFL history and former Carolina Panthers linebacker Kevin Greene died Monday at the age of 58.
The Hall of Famer played three of his final four seasons with the Panthers after coming over from Pittsburgh and played like an ageless wonder. In his first year with Carolina, at age 34 in 1996, Greene led the league with 14.5 sacks and helped the Panthers reach the NFC Championship game for the first time in franchise history.
After spending the 1997 season with the 49ers, Greene returned to the Panthers to play his final two seasons. Over the course of those final two years, Greene racked up another 27 sacks. He finished his career with 160 career sacks -- good for third in NFL history behind Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198).
“I wasn’t the biggest (and) I wasn’t fastest,’’ Greene was once quoted as saying after his career ended. “But as long as you have a motor, you have heart ... that will overcome any physical limitations … I figured out how to pass rush. I figured out how to put a guy, an offensive tackle three to four inches taller, 80 pounds heavier, put him in a position of failure, and I did that.’’
Greene totaled 41.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 47 career games with Carolina. All of Greene’s time with the Panthers came after the linebacker had turned 34 years old.
Greene is the only current Pro Football Hall of Famer to spend more than one season with the Panthers. White played for Carolina for a year in 2000 and totaled 5.5 sacks before retiring at the age of 39.
Despite being among the most feared players in the league during his tenure, Greene was also an effective coach after his playing career. Greene served as outside linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers from 2009 to 2013 and along the way helped lead the Packers to a win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
Greene spent his final two years as a coach with the New York Jets in 2017 and 2018 under head coach Todd Bowles. He was let go after the team transitioned to a new staff under head coach Adam Gase in 2019.