If you mentioned Greg Lloyd’s name to any quarterback during Lloyd’s heyday, he would’ve shuddered in fear.
Simply put, Lloyd was one of the most feared and nastiest pass rushers from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
Lloyd once separated Dan Marino’s shoulder and made Brett Favre see stars for several days.
Lloyd wasn’t just a quarterback terror – he was also a master at racking up forced fumbles.
In fact, he led the NFL in that statistical category for two straight years from 1994 to 1995.
Little wonder Lloyd became a five-time Pro Bowler and centerpiece of Steelers head coach Bill Cowher’s vaunted 3-4 defense in the 1990s.
Lloyd was so good that Steelers owner Dan Rooney once claimed he could play football in any era.
In a nutshell, Greg Lloyd wasn’t just one of the greatest Steelers linebackers of all time – he was also one of those rare football players who could transcend generations.
Gregory Lenard Lloyd Sr. was born in Miami, FL on May 26, 1965.
Lloyd’s single mother raised him and his eight siblings until he was two years old. He never met his biological father.
His mom drove north to Fort Valley, GA, and dropped him and five of his siblings off at his Aunt Bertha Mae Rumph’s residence in 1967, per Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy.
The six Lloyd siblings and four other kids crammed themselves into Rumph’s two-bedroom apartment while he was growing up.
Lloyd admitted to the Steelers’ official website in 2016 that he grew up following the Dallas Cowboys.
Lloyd began playing football when he was six years old. His first peewee coach was a pastor named Billy Powell.
One day, Powell knelt in practice and asked his players to tackle him one at a time.
Lloyd knocked him over. Even as a six-year-old preschooler, he could blindside grown men.
It was a sign of things to come in the National Football League some sixteen years later.
Whenever Lloyd acted up as a child, Bertha Mae Rumph straightened him out by whipping him with an extension cord.
Lloyd didn’t have much during his formative years. According to Murphy, he wore the same shirt and pants to school three days a week in seventh grade. He wore his other outfit on Thursdays and Fridays.
If Lloyd got his clothes dirty, he had no choice but to wear them to school at the expense of the other kids nitpicking on him.
Nevertheless, the experience taught Greg Lloyd a valuable lesson in humility.
He also never backed down from a fight – whenever other kids teased his mother, he took them on without hesitation.
We had a blast playing golf with former PCHS,FVSU, and Steeler great Greg Lloyd. @AthleticsPeach @peachschools @school_peach @school_peach @peachcofootball @FVSUATHLETICS @Director_13WMAZ @sportsguymarv @OfficialGHSA @steelers @MinnieBooker13 @drleurastus pic.twitter.com/niUTDkpXzr
— Peach County Athletics (@AthleticsPeach) June 18, 2022
Greg Lloyd attended Peach County High School in Fort Valley, GA.
A pretty girl from the Midwest named Rhonda Simmons caught Lloyd’s eye in trigonometry class during his freshman year.
Lloyd wooed her, and they eventually got married some eight years later.
Lloyd started at fullback and linebacker for the Peach County Trojans. He was menacing on the gridiron, and he even broke a quarterback’s leg during his senior year.
The officials promptly ejected Lloyd from the game, per Austin.
Greg Lloyd remained in his hometown and eventually made a name for himself with the Fort Valley State Wildcats in the next phase of his gridiron journey.
College Days With The Fort Valley State Wildcats
Greg Lloyd attended Fort Valley State University, a historically black university and Division II school, in Fort Valley, GA from 1983 to 1986.
Lloyd was an electrical engineering major and member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
He played linebacker for the Fort Valley State Wildcats.
Whenever people look down on Lloyd because of his college background, he takes exception.
“See, when I hear people say I come from nowhere, the chip stays on my shoulder,” Lloyd told SteelersNow.com’s Nick Farabaugh in the fall of 2021. “Then, I look around and see Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, and more. They’re all historically black college players and are in the Hall of Fame.”
Lloyd also told Farabaugh that players who had heart had a chance to take their game to the next level at Fort Valley State. He believes he set the bar high when he played for the Tigers during his college football career.
Lloyd also gave credit to the late actor and Pittsburgh native Bill Nunn for helping black college football players earn recognition from the NFL.
Lloyd took Fort Valley State University Football to the next level! He was a three-time SIAC defensive MVP and SIAC player-of-the-year as a senior. #ClawsUpDah #BigCats #WildcatNation #GregLLoyd pic.twitter.com/6kYrcb9V9A
— FVSU Football (@FVSUFootball) August 1, 2019
Wildcats head football coach Doug Porter noticed Greg Lloyd was different from the get-go.
Lloyd went full throttle even in non-contact drills. Porter had no choice but to take Lloyd out of those skirmishes.
“Non-contact wasn’t in his vocabulary,” Porter told Sports Illustrated in January 1996.
Lloyd also began showing exemplary leadership skills on the gridiron while he was in the collegiate ranks.
Whenever his teammates slacked off in practice, he called them out and got in their faces. The trend continued when Lloyd became an established Pro Bowl linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers several years later.
Porter witnessed Lloyd’s leadership firsthand – he swore Lloyd’s teammates tended to listen to him.
Lloyd earned three All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) nods and three team defensive MVP honors in college.
He earned SIAC Player of the Year and First-Team Sheridan All-American honors as a senior in 1986.
Despite not receiving an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN in February 1987, Lloyd saw action in the Heritage Bowl – a game that featured the best players from HBCUs.
Little did Greg Lloyd know that Pittsburgh Steelers scouts eyed him intently. They watched a videotape of the Heritage Bowl showing Lloyd making plays and intercepting a pass.
Steelers scout and eventual director of football operations Tim Donahoe drove two-and-a-half hours to Fort Valley, GA to size up Lloyd.
Lloyd made quite an impression on Donahoe during his private on-campus workout.
Before long Greg Lloyd would deck himself out in Pittsburgh Steelers Black and Gold and become one of the best linebackers in franchise history.
Pro Football Career
The Pittsburgh Steelers made Greg Lloyd the 150th overall selection of the 1987 NFL Draft.
Little did everyone know that this unheralded sixth-round selection would become one of the greatest linebackers who ever donned Steelers Black and Gold.
When Lloyd first arrived in Pittsburgh, the first person he met was legendary Steelers defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene, per the team’s official website.
Lloyd admitted the first thing that crossed his mind when he met Greene was the 1979 Coke commercial he was featured in.
Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Knoll knew Lloyd could play in the National Football League right off the bat.
Former Steelers offensive lineman Jon Kolb told SteelersNow.com that some thirty-four years later Noll came over to him at practice one day.
Noll pointed at Lloyd and nonchalantly told Kolb he would exceed expectations in the pro football ranks.
Kolb told Farabaugh that Lloyd never knew that story. There’s one thing Jon Kolb knows for sure – Chuck Noll’s premonition of Greg Lloyd came true.
— Old Time Football 🏈 (@Ol_TimeFootball) May 26, 2022
The Steelers also drafted future Hall of Fame safety Rod Woodson in 1987. Lloyd, Woodson, and safety Carnell Lake beefed up the Steelers’ defense for the better part of a decade.
Those three formed the core of the nasty “Blitzburgh” defense.
Despite being an undersized linebacker at 6’2″ and 226 pounds, Lloyd held his own in the professional ranks.
He could bench press 470 pounds and run the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds. He could also take on all comers – he has a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do, per Murphy.
Lloyd went on to become a tae kwon do instructor after he retired from the NFL.
Aside from Lloyd’s physical prowess, he also has the personality to boot – his gregarious nature made him stand out as a leader of the Pittsburgh defense during his heyday in the NFL.
No less than Steelers owner Dan Rooney told Sports Illustrated in 1996 Lloyd could’ve fit in with Pittsburgh’s vaunted Steel Curtain defense almost three decades earlier.
For his part, Lloyd looked up to his Steelers predecessors including Jack Lambert, Dwight White, Joe Greene, and Ernie Holmes. He lauded them because they played football the right way.
Lloyd had a reputation for wearing a disheveled t-shirt under his practice jersey with the text, “I Wasn’t Hired For My Disposition.”
Unfortunately, Greg Lloyd’s NFL football career almost ended as soon as it began.
Lloyd blew out his right knee in training camp in 1987. He had no choice but to sit out his entire rookie year.
Although Lloyd put in the work during his time off the gridiron, lightning struck twice – he injured his left knee and missed the first seven games of the 1988 NFL campaign.
With Lloyd hobbling in 1987 and 1988, the Steelers averaged barely seven wins per year during that time frame.
Lloyd came back with a vengeance and went on to miss just three games in the next seven seasons.
He made quite the impression in his first NFL game – officials ejected him after he punched Denver Broncos backup quarterback Gary Kubiak.
Today in #Steelers history:
Monday Oct 3, 1994
Cody Carlson sacked by Greg Lloyd for -9 yards.
— BlitzburghUSAVideos (@sdextrasmedia) October 3, 2020
It was a recurring theme in Greg Lloyd’s pro football career – he did whatever it took to knock a quarterback out of a game.
He did that to New York Jets quarterback Pat Ryan in December 1989. He inflicted a late hit on Seattle Seahawks signal-caller Dave Krieg two years later.
Lloyd’s late hit on Krieg earned the ire of New York Jets legend Joe Namath, who called football games for NBC in 1991.
“Joe Namath can go to hell, he can kiss Greg’s a–,” Lloyd quipped (via Sports Illustrated’s January 1996 issue).
With Greg Lloyd back in harness, Pittsburgh averaged 10 wins a year from 1989 to 1995.
Lloyd racked up 640 tackles, 48.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, 29 forced fumbles, and 11 fumble recoveries during that memorable seven-year stretch.
He led the league in forced fumbles for two straight seasons – five in 1994 and six in 1995.
To nobody’s surprise, Greg Lloyd strung together five consecutive Pro Bowl berths from 1991 to 1995 and three straight First-Team All-Pro nods from 1993 to 1995.
Even during the twilight of Lloyd’s NFL career in the late 1990s, he grew weary of the NFL’s rule changes that aimed to protect the quarterback.
“I’m not into it,” Lloyd told Murphy in 1996. “It’s a violent game, and I’m going to play it the way it’s intended to be played.”
Greg Lloyd’s stance on the modified NFL rulebook didn’t change almost twenty years later.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 17, 2022
Lloyd showed his disdain for quarterbacks during an autograph signing session in Pittsburgh in 1994.
In a first-person essay Steelers fan Josh Yohe wrote for TheAthletic.com in the spring of 2020, he summoned up the courage to approach Lloyd as a 14-year-old in 1980.
Lloyd was all business – he hardly showed a hint of a smile while signing autographs.
When it was Yohe’s turn, he nonchalantly told Lloyd to make life miserable for Cleveland Browns quarterback Vinny Testaverde in their next game.
Lloyd smiled weakly and assured Yohe it was as good as done.
“You ain’t got nothing to worry about, kid,” Lloyd told Yohe. “I wouldn’t want to be him on Sunday.”
Pittsburgh linebacker Kevin Greene, who signed autographs with Lloyd that day, looked on in amusement.
The Steelers prevailed over the Browns, 17-7.
Lloyd didn’t let his guard down on the gridiron during his legendary twelve-year NFL career.
However, Lloyd let his emotions get the better of him in the aftermath of the Steelers’ exciting 20-16 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the 1995 AFC Championship Game on January 14, 1996.
Lloyd uttered an expletive on national television while he passed the AFC championship trophy to owner Dan Rooney in the Steelers locker room.
“This thing belongs to Mr. Rooney,” Lloyd told the Steelers (via Sports Illustrated). “Let’s see if we can bring this damn thing back here next year, along with the f—–g Super Bowl!”
Regrettably, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, 27-17.
Sadly, Greg Lloyd never earned that elusive Super Bowl ring.
Nonetheless, Lloyd never changed his gung-ho style of play – he had always wanted to knock quarterbacks out of the game since he first laced a pair of cleats.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre found out about this the hard way.
Favre sustained a concussion after he found himself on the receiving end of Lloyd’s blindsided hit during a preseason game in 1996.
Pittsburgh running back Fred McAfee told Murphy the vicious hit was similar to Favre stepping on a land mine.
According to Yohe, Lloyd’s hit was so vicious Favre wound up mentioning his name every morning for the next few days because of the pain he felt on his side.
Years later there were even suspicions that Lloyd’s hit could’ve triggered Favre’s addiction to painkillers.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue promptly slapped Lloyd with a $12,000 fine – the biggest in league history at the time – for his hit on Favre.
Greg Lloyd earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s most feared players in his prime.
He was so feared by opponents, that Steelers fans hung a sign which read “Avoid Lloyd” at Three Rivers Stadium.
The quarterback the Steelers faced in the 1995 AFC Championship Game, the Indianapolis Colts’ Jim Harbaugh, claimed the only player he feared and respected the most back in the day was Greg Lloyd.
The injury bug bit Lloyd hard as his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers wound down.
Lloyd missed 15 games in the 1996 NFL season due to a knee injury. He also sat out four games the following year because of a staph infection.
Despite missing Lloyd’s services, for the most part, the Steelers averaged eleven wins from 1996 to 1997. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh never made it past the AFC Championship Game.
Greg Lloyd signed with the Carolina Panthers following the 1997 NFL season. He had 64 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in 1998.
Alas, the Panthers were a woebegone 4-12 in their fourth year of existence in the NFL.
Greg Lloyd retired from pro football following the 1998 NFL season.
He finished his twelve-year NFL career with 791 tackles, 54.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 35 forced fumbles, and 16 fumble recoveries.
Greg Lloyd wasn’t just a menace to quarterbacks and forced fumble specialists, he was a player who transcended several generations.
No less than Steelers owner Dan Rooney sang Lloyd’s praises.
“Greg could play in any era,” Rooney once said (via Fort Valley State’s official athletics website). “He has the makeup, whether it’s 1998 or 1938. He’s just a football player.”
Greg Lloyd, his wife Stephanie, their two sons Greg Jr. and James, and daughter Tiana currently reside in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
Lloyd’s son and namesake Greg Jr. played linebacker for the UConn Huskies football team. The latter also wore No. 95 just like his dad.
Some fourteen years after Lloyd retired from the NFL, he blasted the state of the NFL. He felt current NFL players don’t deserve their reputation as gridiron warriors.
“The guys are not truly football players anymore,” Lloyd told Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan (via BehindTheSteelCurtain.com’s Nick Coolong) in the summer of 2013. “Some of it’s not their fault, but a lot of it is.”
According to Lloyd, today’s NFL players don’t study football as much as he and his contemporaries did back in the day.
He said that he and his teammates were already at practice before their coaches reported for work. Sometimes, they were the last to leave the practice facility.
In sharp contrast, Lloyd observed many of today’s NFL players want to get practice over with as soon as possible.
Authorities arrested Lloyd in the summer of 2018 for allegedly pointing a gun at his wife Stephanie, per TMZ Sports (via Bleacher Report’s Mike Chiari).
Lloyd denied the accusations against him.
However, Stephanie Lloyd insisted her husband pointed a gun at her the week before the news broke out. She also added he had a history of pointing guns dating back to the early 2000s.
She told TMZ she had endured abuse from Greg Lloyd for years. She didn’t feel safe in their house whenever he acted up.
Police charged Greg Lloyd with felony aggravated assault and a misdemeanor for pointing a gun at another individual.
The Black College Football Hall of Fame enshrined Lloyd in 2018.
Lloyd is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers 75th Anniversary Team and the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Honor.