CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - NFL Hall of Famer and legendary Carolina Panthers linebacker Kevin Greene has died at age 58.
Described by NFL.com as “one of the most prolific pass rushers to ever grace the gridiron,” Greene finished his career with Carolina.
A class of 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Greene’s 15-season NFL career was highlighted by 160 sacks - the third-highest total in league history.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Kevin Greene,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. “I regarded him as a personal friend and a true Hall of Famer in every sense. He possessed the most incredible can-do attitude of anyone I ever met. He was a great player, but more than that, he was a great man. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin’s wife, Tara, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Kevin’s memory.”
Greene was drafted in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft, and spent eight seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. The former walk-on at Auburn took years to find his niche in the NFL, with 97.5 of his career sacks coming after his 30th birthday.
He’s more widely recognized for his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Panthers - playing three seasons each. He also played one season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Greene signed with the Panthers in 1996 and led the league with 14.5 sacks that year at age 34. His play helped power the second-year expansion team to the NFC Championship Game.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule commented on Greene’s passing.
““A great player, coach and obviously, Carolina Panther. His loss is sad for us all,” coach Rhule said.
At the time of his retirement, Greene had forced 23 fumbles, recovered 26 fumbles and intercepted five passes. He was a two-time All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.