The University of North Texas will immortalize one of its most famous alumni with a bronze statue outside Apogee Stadium.
The 12-foot-tall tribute to the UNT and NFL legend will be unveiled outside the school’s football stadium before a football game against Louisiana Tech. That game falls on family weekend and marks UNT’s first game in Conference USA play.
Greene, who earned the “Mean Joe” nickname from UNT’s “Mean Green” moniker, played three seasons at North Texas from 1966-68. He was named to the Missouri Valley All-Conference team each of the three years and was a consensus All-American in 1968.
UNT went a combined 23-5-1 while Greene was on the roster. The defense he anchored allowed just two yards per carry over three seasons with Greene at defensive tackle, and set single-season school records for rushing yards allowed and total yards allowed in a season.
Greene would go on to have an illustrious 13-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made 10 Pro Bowls and four First-team All-Pro nods for the Steelers, who won four Super Bowls during his tenure. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
Greene is the only player to have his jersey retired by the university and by the NFL.
"For over 50 years, Joe Greene has made a tremendous impact on our University and the athletic program," UNT Vice President and Director of Athletics Wren Baker said. "As a football player, as an alumnus and as a regent, he has made significant contributions to this campus and brought great honor to the Mean Green family. He is one of the greatest defensive linemen in the history of football and he's one of us. We are very excited to recognize Joe's achievements and contributions with this statue."
Brian Hanlon, the sculptor behind the statue at Apogee Stadium, has created statues for several major sports figures, including Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown and Shaquille O’Neal. The statue will stand eight feet tall and be placed on a four-foot pedestal, the university says.
"I am overwhelmed by the thought of a Joe Greene statue at the University of North Texas," Greene said. "It is beyond my wildest expectations that the university thought enough of me as a player and a person to bestow such an honor to me and my family.
“It will be special for my kids, grandkids and all the generations that follow to see their father and grandfather displayed in such a manner."
The statue unveiling falls five days after Greene’s 72nd birthday. The event is part of what UNT is billing “Champions Weekend,” which will include the groundbreaking on a $19 million indoor athletic facility.