BASN NFL Matchup: “Mean” Joe Greene or Randy White?

By Eric Williams
Updated: February 22, 2007

NFL PHILADELPHIA — Once again, I am going “old school” in an effort to stir up some more debate on the legendary careers of two of the game’s greatest defensive linemen ever, Hall of Famer inductees, “Mean” Joe Greene and Randy White.

Now, both players were absolutely overpowering throughout their respective careers, but when push comes to shove, which player would you say was better?

I’ll share the answer to that nearly unanswerable question after a brief look at each player’s career.


Born, Charles Edward Greene, on September 24, 1946 in Temple, Texas, Greene was the fourth overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft and spent his entire career with the team until his retirement in 1981.

Greene was a cornerstone of the Steelers’ famed, “Steel Curtain” defense that won four Super Bowls in the 1970′s. Greene put on a legendary performance in Super Bowl IX, when he became the first player ever to record an interception, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in a single Super Bowl.

Greene’s career stats were 181 games, 66 sacks (unofficially, as sacks didn’t become an official statistic until 1982) and 16 fumble recoveries. Greene was twice named NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1972, 1974) and played in 10 Pro Bowls.

Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Although the Steelers do not officially retire uniform numbers, his number 75 has not been reissued since his retirement.


Born, Randy Lee White on January 15, 1953 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania White played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1975-1988 and is a member of both the college and professional football halls of fame.

During his senior year (1974), at the University of Maryland, White won numerous awards and honors, including the Outland Trophy, the Lombardi Award, and the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year.

Drafted by the Cowboys in 1975, White was moved to middle linebacker, where he was a backup to Cowboy legend Lee Roy Jordan, playing mostly on special teams his first two seasons, including his rookie season when Dallas lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X.

During his third season (1977), White was moved to defensive tackle, the same position formerly occupied by “Mr. Cowboy”, Bob Lilly, from 1961 through 1974.

That year would prove to be his breakout year, he was named to his first All-Pro team, his first Pro Bowl, and was named co-MVP(along with Harvey Martin) of Super Bowl XII, making him one of only 7 defensive players to win the honor.

White would continue his success for almost another decade, being named to nine consecutive All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams.

He would retire in 1988 (also the last season on the sidelines for original Cowboys coach Tom Landry), having played 209 games in 14 seasons, only missing one game during that span.

At the time of his retirement, he had played the second most of any Dallas Cowboy in history. During those 14 years, he played in 3 Super Bowls, 6 NFC Championship Games, and accumlated 1,104 tackles (701 solo) and 111 sacks. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

My Pick

Maybe it’s me, but I’ve always been a “Mean” Joe Greene kind of guy. Don’t get me wrong, White was an excellent player for the Cowboys and one who was probably a little more versatile than Greene.

However, when it came to brute strngth and just overpowering offensive linemen – and stuffing the run in the process – I don’t think there have been many defensive tackles better than Greene.

Greene’s reputation also preceeded him I believe and psychologically beat several opponents before they ever stepped foot on the playing field.

So, for me, I’ve got to give this nod, however slight, to “Mean” Joe Greene.