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L. C. Greenwood (1946–2013)

L. C. Greenwood was professional football player who starred as a defensive lineman at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and played thirteen years in the National Football League (NFL), leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

Born on August 8, 1946, in Canton, Mississippi, L. C. Henderson Greenwood was one of nine children. He started playing football at Rogers High School in Canton in order to avoid after-school chores.After graduating from high school in 1966, Greenwood received both academic and athletic scholarship offers. He turned down an offer to study pharmacy at Clarke College in Atlanta, Georgia, for the opportunity to play football in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) at Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), now called the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. In his freshman year, Greenwood replaced an injured starting defensive end, after which he started at either defensive end or defensive tackle for the next four years. He graduated from AM&N with a bachelor’s degree in vocational education in 1969. Named to Ebony magazine’s All-American team that year, Greenwood drew interest initially from the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL but ended up being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the tenth round, the 238th selection overall.

In thirteen seasons with the Steelers, from 1969 to 1981, Greenwood, who stood 6'6" and weighed 245 pounds, started as left defensive end in 134 of 170 games. Over his career, he made 73.5 sacks, which, at the time of his retirement in 1981, stood as the club’s record until Jason Gildon retired with seventy-seven in 2003. Greenwood led the defense in sacks six times; his single-season career high of eleven came in 1974. He retired with fourteen fumble recoveries, second to Joe Greene, who also retired in 1981 with sixteen. In 1971, his first year as a starter, Greenwood recovered five fumbles, his career best for a single season. Against the New England Patriots in 1974, he tackled quarterback Jim Plunkett in the end zone for a two-point safety.

As member of the “Steel Curtain,” the nickname given to the Steelers’ defensive line in the 1970s, Greenwood played alongside Joe Greene, Ernie Homes, and Dwight White. These four men provided the backbone of the Steelers’ defense, which led the team to four Super Bowl victories, in 1975, 1976, 1979, and 1980. Against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX in 1975, Greenwood blocked three passes from quarterback Fran Tarkenton, and against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X in 1976, he sacked quarterback Roger Staubach four times. In four Super Bowl appearances, he had five sacks. After a 1–4 start in 1976, the Steel Curtain led the Steelers to nine decisive victories, including five shutouts, allowing only two touchdowns, and five field goals.

Selected six times to the Pro Bowl, from 1973 to 1976 and from 1978 to 1979, Greenwood earned All-Conference recognition in the same years, as well as selection to the first team All-Pro in 1974 and 1975, and the 1970 All NFL Defensive team. As of 2013, he has yet to be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame despite being nominated several times.

Noted for his gold high-top cleats, Greenwood earned the nickname “Hollywood Bags” because he said he kept his suitcase packed in case he got a call from a movie producer to star in a film.

An entrepreneur throughout his life, Greenwood operated a painting and small construction business while in high school. In 1974, he established Greenwood Enterprises, which owned six companies, including Monaloh Basin Engineers, a construction and engineering firm, for which Greenwood served as executive vice president. In 1980, Greenwood and business partner Jim McDonald formed Greenwood-McDonald Supply Co., Inc., which furnished electrical equipment to manufacturers and retail outlets. In 2002, he established Greenwood Manufacturing, a distributor of packing materials.

Greenwood died on September 29, 2013.

For additional information:
“L. C. Greenwood.” Pro-Football-Reference.com. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/GreeL.00.htm (accessed May 19, 2013).

Obituary of L. C. Greenwood. Pittsburg Post-Gazette, September 29, 2013. Online at http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/former-steeler-lc-greenwood-dies-at-67-705428/ (accessed September 30, 2013).

Porter, David L., ed. Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: 1989–1992 Supplement for Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Other Sports. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992.

Syken, Bill. “L. C. Greenwood, Defensive End.” Sports Illustrated (December 2, 1980). Online at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1027634/index.htm (accessed May 19, 2013).

Adam R. Hornbuckle
Spring Hill, Tennessee

Last Updated 10/29/2013

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