Monday, September 30, 2013

Remembering L.C. Greenwood - From Canton to Canton

"There’s a great spirit gone!" - Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, scene 2

The great and proud Pittsburgh Steelers organization has lost yet another member of its family when Mr. L.C. Henderson Greenwood 'shuffled off this mortal coil' on Sunday, September 29, 2013. He was 67 years old. -

I'm not afraid to say that I shed a tear when I heard the news about the man known as "Hollywood Bags." L.C., the multiple All-Pro, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl player, just hit me in a different spot.

Maybe it was because L.C. was from Canton, Mississippi and that I'm from Greenville, MS. Maybe it's because his birthday was September 8th (1946) and my birthday (though I don't celebrate them) is on the 9th of September.

Or, to borrow a line from Mars Blackmon, 'maybe it's the shoes.'

L.C. was known for his golden shoes when he played. It was part of his flashy style. But, according to his website, it came about by accident.

"In 1973, L.C. Greenwood was diagnosed by his team doctor with a severe ankle injury. The doctor suggested that if he wanted to play in Sunday’s game, he would have to wear high top shoes. Tony Parisi was one of the Steelers trainers and he had a friend who owned a shoe store in the Strip District. At the shoe store Tony was given a couple of pairs of black Riddell high tops. Back in the locker room, Tony asked L.C. to try them on and they fit perfectly. L.C. said, “Tony, I can’t wear these shoes, they are too ugly!” So Tony offered to paint them white. L.C. did not like that idea because Joe Namath wore white high tops, so Tony offered to paint them gold. L.C. agreed. When the gold shoes appeared in his locker L.C. hesitantly put them on and wore them on game day, and the Steelers won. On the following Sunday, L.C. wore them once more, and the Steelers won again. However, the next game, L.C.’s ankle was on the mend so he wore his regular shoes…The Steelers lost. Suddenly, fan mail started to pour in for L.C. begging him to wear the gold shoes because when he did, the Steelers won. They had become a good luck charm. Always a fan pleaser, L.C. adorned the gold shoes for many of the games." -

Per, the Steelers "were fined for a uniform violation every game L.C. played. While his teammates wore the standard black shoes that went with the uniform, Greenwood's were always a shiny gold. ... The Steelers never complained about the fines, L.C. was worth it."

And accident or not, it is a style that went along with his nickname.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo from "Steelers Years", L.C. "was called 'Hollywood Bags' because he claimed he kept his bags packed and ready so he could leave for Hollywood at a moment's notice."

It may sound funny, but, according to his official website, L.C. was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Though, he didn't appear in anything of note outside of NFL Films or cameo parts where he portrayed himself.

On the field, however, L.C. was always a star. A nightmare for quarterbacks, he used his height and reflexes to bat down numerous balls throughout his career. In Super Bowl IX, he smashed down two of Fran Tarkenton's pass attempts.

Quite the athlete, he had great speed (4.7/40) and unusual quickness for a man who was 6'6" 245 pounds. He was remarkably consistent and effective - in his 13 seasons he recorded 73.5 sacks and 14 fumble recoveries.

Recording five sacks in his four Super Bowl victories, L.C. had his best performance when the Steelers won Super Bowl X by sacking Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach four times in the 21-17 victory.

That touches on a particular, and particularly sore, subject. Despite all his credentials - six-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-AFC, two-time All-Pro and four-time World champion - he isn't in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"The saddest thing is," said Steelers Dan Rooney, "he never got into the Hall of Fame,"

L.C. was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2005 and 2006, but was not elected. In recent years, however, there has been some clamor to get him into the Hall of Fame through the seniors committee.

Unfortunately now, though, it will be a posthumous induction when it happens. With there being several NFL players in the Hall of Fame with comparable numbers, it shouldn't have taken as long as it has in the first place.

L.C. Henderson Greenwood was born in Canton, Mississippi.

L.C. "Hollywood Bags" Greenwood deserves to live on forever in Canton, Ohio.