(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Gary Plummer interview, fast-forward to 25:20 of the following attachment: Ep 12: Holiday Gift Giving; Moss/Rice; Remembering Kevin Greene with Gary Plummer | The Eye Test for Two | Spreaker)
“A punch in the gut,” is how he described it on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast.
Greene, a linebacker who teamed with Plummer in San Francisco for one season (1997), died Monday at the age of 58, with the Pro Football Hall of Fame making the announcement. No cause of death has been revealed.
In the hours that followed news of Greene’s passing, Plummer tried to piece together what he remembered most about him, what he liked best and what made Kevin Greene the player who today ranks third all-time in NFL sacks – behind only Hall-of-Famers Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
When he was finished, he realized it came down to one word.
“RE-lent-less,” he said. “That’s it. The dude was one of the most intense guys I ever played with, but he was relentless. He would not be denied.
“What you have to do when you play this crazy game … it is really difficult to have that kind of intensity. So you manufacture it. I would try to manufacture it on Game Day, but (Greene) started manufacturing it early in the week on the installation on Wednesday.
“I mean, I think that was his key. He was just going to be more relentless than the guy across from him.”
And he was.
Greene had 10 seasons with double-digit sacks, including 12 in his final year (1999, with Carolina) at the age of 37. He twice led the league in sacks and finished his 15-year career with 160. He also had 23 forced fumbles, 26 fumble recoveries, five interceptions and a place on the 1990s’ all-decade team.
But his greatest achievement didn’t occur until 2016, when he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame — an honor that humbled him.
“I am so grateful,” said Plummer, “that he had the opportunity to enjoy being in the Hall of Fame for a few years before passing.”
It should come as no surprise that with 160 sacks, Greene was labeled as a pass-rushing linebacker. But that description infuriated him. Because it implied he couldn’t – or wouldn’t – play the run, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. He could. And he did.
“Kevin took that,” said Plummer, “and it was that slap in the face that increased his intensity. It’s like: ‘I’m going to prove people wrong.’ He was damned good.
“He knew that in order to be a pass rusher you have to be extremely good using leverage. And it’s the same thing being a good run stopper. You have to be good at using your leverage, and Kevin was all of that … He was the ultimate intense warrior.”