"Just remember Joe," said Joe, ringing down his personal curtain yesterday, "as a good football player who wasn't really mean."
Joe Who? That was a Pittsburgh headline in 1969 when the Steelers made their first draft pick of the Chuck Noll coaching era somebody who played line for North Texas State's Mean Green. And now, as Joe Greene retired at luncheon in Three Rivers Stadium's Allegheny Club, Noll remembered that--and that Greene was "the best I've seen," he "set the standard, new standards . . . and I think this kind of permeated our thinking." With Greene at tackle an anchor of what became the Steel Curtain defense, you all know about those dynastic years before the wear and tear told on not-so-mean Joe and cohorts until this ceremony became a foregone conclusion.
"Time for me to do something else, I've punched my time clock," said Greene, who is involved in a Dallas restaurant operation and came up for the occasion from Duncanville, Tex., with wife Agnes. "I really have loved it . . ." but time now to "get out in the world and live, to enjoy an easy life. I'm a noncombatant now". . .
Next to leave Pittsburgh could be a man as big in his field--right field--as the 6-4, 260-pound Greene: Dave Parker, 6-5, well over 230, and now evidently too big to remain a Pirate. Mark the two-time NL batting champ, one-time MVP down for the next--if the club can arrange it that soon--big baseball trade. Parker said in weekend interviews there was no way to patch up his disenchantment with Pittsburgh fans and media. G.M. Harding Peterson follows up with: "At the winter meetings we were willing to listen to anyone and everyone who had a firm offer. No one did. Now we will call clubs." Clubs who can pick up Parker's megabuck contract, from a list (the usual) of those he has stamped "acceptable". . .
Yankees included, naturally--and interleague trading "reopens" Monday (how "closed" has it been with such as yesterday's Oriole-Red swap?). And who didn't show up for George Steinbrenner's "suggested" early training this week? Tommy John. Last seen, again in the new World Series film, grimacing in perplexity and disgust at being lifted for a fourth-inning pinch hitter in a 1-1 game (goodbye, Series), John has a salary grievance going, that conceivably could make him a free agent--or trade bait . . . Reporting to the New Yorkers' Fort Lauderdale camp with the infielders and outfielder next week: free agent Bobby Murcer, after turning down "a bunch of money" in Japan, sounding out Milwaukee and Texas, then accepting Steinbrenner's invitation to try to stick again, no guarantees: "No other team I'd rather play for. Is there another team in America?". . .
On the move: Kevin Willhite, Parade's and TD Club's high school athlete of year, had said he'd be a Washington Husky ball carrier, but came national letter-of-intent day yesterday and, Duck! There was Oregon, proudly waving Willhite's signature . . . New assistant athletic director at George Washington U.: W.R. (Chip) Zimmer. At 30, this West Virginia alum leaves as U. of Maryland's director of sports marketing (since May 1979) to fill Bernie Swain's shoes and promote, promote . . .
"Saddest day of my life" for Ed DeBartolo Sr. (sadder than when baseball kept this father of several sports enterprises, grandfather of the NFL champ 49ers, from buying the White Sox?): his "dear friend" Vincent Bartimo fired by directors of DeBartolo-owned Louisiana Downs racetrack who accuse Bartimo of misspending $800,000 as track manager--most of it going to track v.p. and longtime Bartimo associate Rosalind Muller . . . Not so happy for DeBartolo's fellow Ohioan, Ted Stepien, either. The NBA Cavaliers' owner has settled $35,875 on Gayle Falinski, 26, hit by a softball he dropped from the 50-story Terminal Tower as a promotional stunt for the pro softball team he then owned, June 25, 1980. Falinski sued after her wrist was broken by the third ball Stepien dropped. The first hit a man on the shoulder (he refused treatment); the second hit a parked car; the fourth, finally, was caught by a member of Stepien's softball team . . .
Bill Dennis, veteran stock car racer from Richmond, remained "critical" at last report from a Daytona Beach hospital where he was taken after a crash in Tuesday qualifying for Sunday's Daytona 500. Multiple upper-body injuries but "alert, responding well." * * * *
A. The NNHL: National Novice Hockey League, "largest amateur adult hockey league in U.S.," stages an all-star benefit for Muscular Dystrophy Association Sunday, 6:30, Lakeforest Mall Ice Arena, Gaithersburg . . . Q. A remake of the 1952 Ronald Reagan movie, "The Winning Team," is in the mill. This time starring ??? as Hall of Fame pitcher ???