Kevin Greene has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the second person, along with defensive end Reggie White, who played for the Panthers to earn enshrinement.
A linebacker/defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams (1985-92), Pittsburgh Steelers (1993-95), Panthers (1996, 1998-99) and San Francisco 49ers (1997), Greene ranks third in NFL history with 160 sacks, behind only Bruce Smith and White. He compiled 10 or more sacks in a season 10 times and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
"He was a positive influence on the guys around him," said Dom Capers, who was Panthers head coach for two of Greene's three seasons and his defensive coordinator for two seasons in Pittsburgh. "One thing you knew was that he was going to give you 100 percent every play. He brought an awful lot of passion to the locker room, and he was a good example for the younger players by the way he prepared.
"He would study as much tape as any player that we had, he would gather the guys together and study individually. He spent extra time in the weight room. He was a great example to have on a young team with a lot of young players in terms of setting the tone of what you felt you needed to win."
During his three seasons with Carolina, Greene produced 41.5 sacks and led the team in sacks each year. His first season in 1996, he became the oldest player at age 34 to lead the NFL in sacks with 14.5, and he set a team record with 15 sacks in 1998 (tied by Greg Hardy in 2013). That same season, Greene established a team record with a sack in six consecutive games (tied by Charles Johnson in 2010) and an NFL record with five consecutive multi-sack games.
While the passionate and emotional linebacker thrived as a pass rusher in the Panthers' 3-4 defense, one of his most memorable plays with the team, ironically, did not come on a sack but on a turnover. He recovered a fumble versus St. Louis in 1996 and rumbled 66 yards for his second career touchdown, finishing the run with an acrobatic dive into the end zone.
"All of Kevin Greene's attributes which make him Hall of Fame worthy are multiplied by his consistency, durability and longevity," said Vic Fangio, Greene's defensive coordinator for two of his seasons in Carolina. "He did it over a long career as an every-down player defending the run and pass equally well.
"He had physical and mental tenacity which football people really admired and respected."