Former Packers assistant Kevin Greene, part of 2010 Super Bowl champion, dies at 58
Kevin Greene, a Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and key component of the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff on the 2010 Super Bowl championship team, has died at the age of 58.
No cause of death has been provided.
"The Packers were saddened today to learn of Kevin Greene's passing," Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "He was a great coach for us and was instrumental in our team's Super Bowl championship season. He had so much energy and passion. Our players loved playing for him.
"We extend our sincerest condolences to Kevin's wife, Tara, and their entire family."
Greene, largely remembered for his decorated 15-year playing career with four teams that lasted from 1985-99, was outside linebackers coach for the Packers from 2009 to 2013 and then briefly again for the New York Jets in 2017-18. Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, the same year as Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
Greene's star pupil in Green Bay was Clay Matthews, who became an instant impact talent and eventually made six Pro Bowls with the Packers after Green Bay selected him out of USC in 2009.
In one of his most famous moments, the high-energy Greene was caught on camera telling Matthews, "It is time," during a break in Super Bowl XLV. Matthews then caused a fumble that played a huge role in the victory over Greene's former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Matthews called the news "truly heartbreaking" on Twitter.
"KG was a warrior on the field, and he brought his same fire and tenacity to his coaching," Matthews said. "So much of my success was a direct result of him, but he was so much more than a coach.
"He often referred to me and the other OLBs as his kids and taught us how to be a professional in all aspects of life.
"I’ll miss the conversations we continued to have, but the stories of KG will live on forever. RIP Sackmaster!"
Greene surprisingly walked away from coaching in January of 2014, saying at the time he wanted to spend more time with his two children, Gavin and Gabrielle, as well as wife, Tara.
Greene had served in a number of coaching internships but wasn't ready to devote all his energy to a full-time job until he called Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, his former head coach in Carolina, seeking a position.
"We had talked over the years, and I never thought it was the right time," Greene said in an interview shortly after his hiring. "I told him when I called him this was the right time. I wanted to get into it."
His 160 sacks are the most by a linebacker in NFL history and third most ever behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White. He played for the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.
Greene's tasks with the Packers included converting Mike Neal from lineman to linebacker and getting 23-year-old rookie Frank Zombo up to speed in 2010, and both became contributors to the Super Bowl run. Midseason free-agent signing Erik Walden, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week in the final game of the season when he terrorized the Chicago Bears in a must-win victory, cited an early conversation with Greene as key to his ascent.
But Matthews was the star of Green Bay's defense, making the Pro Bowl immediately as a rookie in 2009 and earning the Pro Football Writers of America NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. The Associated Press award went to Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu. Matthews got the last laugh in the head-to-head tilt between the two players.
Several former Packers expressed condolences.
"Made a deal with Kevin Greene @packers training camp 2010 that if we won the SB we get Lombardi trophy tattoos and I'll be damned if we didn't do it!" tweeted former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson. "RIP Kevin Greene....Damn."
"Kevin Greene was a true warrior and a dear friend!!!" Favre tweeted. "As much as I disliked playing against him, I loved everything about him at the same time and I loved him like a brother. Gods army just got much stronger."
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Greene was "driven" to succeed:
Greene served under former Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers:
Hall President and CEO David Baker said in a statement:
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Kevin Greene. I regarded him as a personal friend and a true Hall of Famer in every sense. He possessed the most incredible can-do attitude of anyone I ever met. He was a great player, but more than that, he was a great man."