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In the Trenches

NFL Hall of Famer Mean Joe Greene dreams of another Super Bowl ring, but this time with the Miami Dolphins.
Edward Kiersh
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Winter 95/96

(continued from page 1)

Tough and straightforward, Greene is not disposed to sentimental reminiscing. Initially reluctant to be profiled, he seemed worried that an interview would disrupt the Marine-base atmosphere at the Dolphins' training camp. But now that Bradshaw's picture prompts fond thoughts and added jabs at his favorite QB ("He's become quite a TV star-- he's got the money to smoke that fancy stuff."), Greene is more relaxed and high-spirited.

He's about to light his La Gloria when Miami defensive coordinator Tom Olivadotti suddenly looks in from a doorway. He gives Greene a somber look--one that needs no translation. Greene's lunch break, all 15 minutes of it, is over. It's time to get to a meeting with head coach Don Shula. Pronto. So forget the La Gloria. There will be no smoking in prison this day.

Three days later, spirits are running high at the Miami training complex. Already laden with talent, with such stars as Irving Fryar, Bryan Cox, Keith Byars and Dan Marino, the Dolphins have just acquired powerful Steve Emtman to beef up their defensive line. Now the talk among reporters at camp is the Dolphins' "lock" on the Super Bowl, which they haven't won since 1974.

Greene, though, has his cheerless "game face" on. Tired after the Dolphins' full-day scrimmage against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he still has to prepare for his nightly meeting with Olivadotti and Shula. "Coach is very meticulous; Shula's aware of everything," says Greene, rustling through mounds of papers and charts scattered across his desk. "A winner, he's impressed me a lot."

And it is easy to be impressed with Greene. On the wall behind him is a Silver Anniversary Super Bowl All-Time Team poster celebrating his being named to the game's all-time greatest team. He modestly shrugs off this honor as he continues searching through his desk, finally discovering what he has been looking for: a Flor de Caribe corona.

"My favorite cigars are the La Gloria, the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur--I've been smoking them on and off for a long time. I like maduros a lot," says Greene, who smokes two to three cigars daily when not in camp. "I smoke all kinds of cigars; I like variety. I really enjoy creating an environment around my smoking, one where I won't be bothered. I love smoking in the car--the quiet, the aloneness. I also like to begin my day with a cigar. It's unbelievable how relaxing this is, how it gets me ready for the day.

"Yet I've still found that I get tired of smoking one type of cigar. It loses its taste after a while. So I go back and forth between a maduro and an English claro. But you name it, I'm not fancy. I like most robust cigars."

Still looking menacing in his Dolphins T-shirt, his muscular legs propped on a desk, Greene seems well-suited for what he calls "manly, richly flavored cigars." Yet he admits he often has to savor these strong blends in a private sanctum of his Cooper City, Florida, home. Agnes, his wife of 28 years (they have three grown children), has "banished" him there, and feeling that pressure, he concedes, "I'm always retreating to that room. Cigars are my escape from stress. When I'm smoking, it's a delicious moment, like watching the ocean, enjoying some soft jazz."

Mean Joe on the run?

It's an image that hardly squares with his old routine--hauling down two defenders at once and sticking guys in the chops.

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