Steelers set to unleash sack attack Rush job: Pittsburgh linebackers Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene come from different backgrounds, but bring a similar ferocity to their task of chasing opposing quarterbacks.

January 24, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. -- On one side is Greg Lloyd, a fearless competitor whose mom abandoned him in Georgia when he was 2. He will never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he is a dedicated family fan who is honest, blunt and bold enough to once wear a T-shirt that read: "Real Men Are Black."

On the other side is Kevin Greene, the Hulk Hogan look-alike. He is articulate, soft-spoken and has traveled the world because his father was an Army colonel.

Together, they are the best tandem of pass rushing outside linebackers in the NFL, and good enough to force the cocky Dallas Cowboys to make some adjustments in their basic offense Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

"They both have the total package," said Cowboys guard Larry Allen. "Speed, quickness and power, and there's two of them. I'll be pulling out a lot this week to help out in pass protection, something we don't usually do.

"But whenever you go up to the line of scrimmage, you have to know where No. 95 and No. 91 are lined up," Allen said.

They could be on the inside, or they could be on the perimeter. Either way, they'll be in somebody's face, or on Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman's back.

Count on it.

"Believe me, when you have to work through a double team, then a running back, you try to knock the you know what out of a quarterback who is making $7 to $8 million, almost twice as much as you," said Lloyd, 6 feet 2, 226 pounds, who led the team in tackles this season with 117, including 6 1/2 sacks.

Lloyd always has played the game hard. That was his nickname at Peach County (Ga.) High: "Hit Hard Lloyd." And Lloyd always has punished quarterbacks.

Once, in high school, he blitzed a quarterback and broke his leg. In his first pro game, Lloyd knocked out Denver Broncos quarterback Gary Kubiak. Maybe no player takes a better aim on a quarterback. Almost certainly, no player has been fined more for late hits or unsportsmanlike conduct than Lloyd in the last five years.

"When you play him, expect to get nailed," said Jim Kelly, the Buffalo quarterback who had to leave the Bills' playoff game two weeks ago against the Steelers for a few minutes after Lloyd crunched him. "Once he gets free, it's like he has radar or there's a bull's eye on your back."

Lloyd said: "People come to see people get knocked out. That's what the fans say, 'Hey Lloyd, knock his [butt] out.' I don't know if I'm being singled out by the officials, but they're always taking a close look at me.

"I always play hard, and learned early in life that either I was going to be very good at football or whatever I chose, or I was going to jail."

Lloyd, 30, is the youngest of nine children. When he was 2, his mother "just dropped us off" at his aunt's one day, and they didn't see her again until Lloyd was 10. Lloyd has never met his father.

He took his anger out on the football field.

"I've had to overcome a lot of bitterness, and I'm still working on that," said Lloyd, who has a black belt in tae kwon do. "Our family was never like the Cleavers, you know."

Lloyd makes sure he isn't making the same mistakes as his parents. He always talks about his children, Gregory, Jhames and Tiana. He is one of the Steelers' most active community workers (1994 Pittsburgh YMCA Man of the Year) and team leaders.

"He doesn't say much," said Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell. "He doesn't have to. This is a guy who doesn't accept excuses. He puts a lot of pressure on himself."

Greene is the same way. He has a chiseled body and great intensity. Only the roads he and Lloyd took to the NFL were different.

Greene's father was stationed in seven different places, with three tours in Germany. Discipline and organization were a must. Greene was a captain in the National Guard and is a trained paratrooper.

He went to Auburn only because his brother went there, and didn't try out for the football team until his fourth year when friends on the ROTC intramural and dormitory teams talked him into it.

Greene made the team as a walk-on, and started the last five games, leading the team in sacks with 11. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Los Angles Rams in 1985.

"My father had me pure Army. I did push-ups before breakfast, ran miles before lunch, kept the hair high and tight. This hair now is in rebellion to my wife and father," said Greene, laughing.

Greene, 33, spent eight years with the Rams before signing with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in 1993. Since then, he has been the team's and one of the league's sack masters.

He led the team with 12 1/2 in 1993, and the league with 14 in 1994. Unlike Lloyd, Greene uses more quickness than strength.

Sometimes, they like to see who can get there faster.

"I remember in the Buffalo game we kind of stared at each other sitting on top of Kelly," said the 6-2, 249-pound Greene, the team leader in sacks this season with nine. "Sacking the quarterback is what I do. It's a statement, it's notoriety. I put a lot of stress on myself for that moment, the zest I get from a sack."

The Cowboys know that, and they don't need any reminders.

"Both of them play hard for 60 minutes," said Dallas offensive tackle Erik Williams. "They roll up their sleeves and flex their muscles. I like that. I can deal with it."

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