Photo by Theo Tate
Former NFL standout and Granite City High South graduate Kevin Greene speaks to the audience during Kevin Greene Day on May 21 at Memorial Gymnasium in Granite City High. Greene will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
GRANITE CITY – Dom Capers started his coaching career in the National Football League 30 years ago.
Since then, Capers worked for eight different teams. This fall, he’ll be working in his eighth season as defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers.
On Aug. 6, he will make a trip to Canton, Ohio, to be the presenter of former NFL and Granite City South football standout Kevin Greene at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Ceremonies.
“I think a presenter really should be somebody that had a remarkable impact on your life and really affected your life the most,” Greene said during a national conference call on Thursday.
Greene chose Capers to present him during his enshrinement to the Hall of Fame back in early March.
“Dom has had a tremendous impact on my football career and my family,” Greene said. “He helped provide for my family very well over the years. I’ve known him and his wife, Karen, since 1993 and I loved them both.”
Greene will be part of a Hall of Fame class that will also include Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Ken Stabler, Dick Stanfel, Tony Dungy and Edward J. Debartolo, Jr.
“To think that I’m one of the few that receive this honor, it’s humbling,” Greene said.
Greene played for four teams – the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers -- in his 15-year NFL career. He’s among the league career leaders in sacks with 160 and played in the Pro Bowl five times.
“I was blessed with great health,” said Greene, who retired in 1999. “I never suffered a major injury and as a player in the NFL, the game is based on physical brutality and the attrition rate is really bad in the NFL. Most people don’t make it until their fourth or fifth year. I was able to stay healthy. I never had a knee operation. I can safely say with condition, that’s a miracle from God. That’s the Good Lord blessing me.”
Greene said playing for the Steelers was one of the biggest highlights of his career. He helped the Steelers reach Super Bowl 30, where they lost to the Dallas Cowboys.
“We didn’t win the big one, but we kicked a lot of butt and it was fun with my teammates,” Greene said. “That’s as good as it gets playing for the Steelers and Three Rivers (Stadium), knocking the stuff out of Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas on a Monday night football game at Three Rivers and the crowd was going bonkers. It was the zenith of my career.”
Greene stayed at Granite City for four years from 1976-1980, all of them were at South High School. During that time, the Granite City School District had two high schools – North and South. Greene graduated from South in 1980.
“I made a lot of friends there and I really enjoyed being part of that community,” Greene said. “That was a military stop for us. My dad was military and we lived on a military base in west Granite. It was a great experience at Granite City. I do consider Granite City as my second home because you change a lot from your freshman to your senior year in high school and I did. Nevertheless, it was a great experience living there and going to school there in Granite City.”
Greene went to play college ball at Auburn before beginning his pro career in 1985 with the Rams. Greene said his older brother, Keith, was a big inspiration to him during his football career.
“He passed away a couple of years ago and he’s the best older brother a younger brother can ever have,” Greene said. “He always set a great example for me and never picked on me and never called me names. He always set the tone and always set the standard for me. He showed me the right way of doing things and teaching me work ethic.”
Capers coached Greene for four seasons in two different stints in the NFL. Capers was the Steelers’ defensive coordinator with Greene as his linebacker from 1993-94. In 1996 and 1998, Greene was under Capers again when he was the Panthers’ head coach.
After playing eight seasons with the Rams, Greene went to Pittsburgh in 1993. After three seasons with the Steelers, Greene headed south to Carolina to play one season with the Panthers in 1996. After a year in San Francisco, Greene went back to the Panthers to play two more years before retiring.
Capers worked as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator from 1992-1994. He was the Panthers’ head coach from 1995-1998.
“Dom brought me to Pittsburgh and put me in his position to have an impact in games,” Greene said. “When he was a head coach for the Carolina Panthers, he brought me to the new Panthers and put me in a position to impact games. He understood my work ethic and he knew I was a student at the game.”
In 2009, Greene was hired as the Packers’ outside linebacker coach by Capers. He worked at Green Bay for five seasons and won a Super Bowl championship.
“He was very instrumental in bringing me to Green Bay on coach Mike McCarthy’s staff as outside linebackers coach,” said Greene, who will turn 54 on July 31. “He put me in a position to teach owners how to impact the game.”
Capers started his NFL career in 1986 as the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints and worked there for six seasons. After stops in Pittsburgh and Carolina, Capers worked as a defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars (1999-2000), the head coach for the Houston Texans (2002-2005), special assistant to head coach and defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins (2006-2007) and special assistant and secondary coach for the New England Patriots (2008) before getting hired at Green Bay in 2009.