Chances are, you don’t know too much about the North Texas Mean Green football team that will play Georgia on Saturday.
If you are of a certain age, you know about the program’s most famous football player.
That would be “Mean Joe” Greene, the 10-time Pro Bowler from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Greene, who attended North Texas’ come-from-behind win against Ball State Saturday, may be best known for this:
There are two explanations for the “Mean Green” nickname, according to the school’s official website.
One involved a chant at a football game in the 1960s “`Mean Green, you look so good to me.’”
The other centered on Greene, a consensus All-American defensive tackle as a senior in 1968.
A different Mean Green story also originates at a North Texas football game in the ’60s, one that featured a “spectacular tackle” by Joe Greene.
“That’s the way, Mean Greene!” were the words of Sidney Sue Graham (’57), wife of Fred Graham (’57), then the university’s sports information director.
“It was merely a spontaneous cheer for an impressive play, but moments later the light bulb went off,” she recalls. “I’d been thinking we needed a nickname. All the other really strong defensive units in the country had one.”
So she mentally removed the “e” to make “Mean Green” apply to the entire defense.
“Fred said it was too corny,” she says.
But he did refer to the “Mean Green Defensive Unit” in one of his press releases about the team, and the name caught on with sports writers.
If Georgia’s Bulldogs weren’t so ingrained, what player might be worthy of the school nickname?
Maybe the Georgia Baileys (Champ, Boss, Ronald, Sean), the Georgia Herschels, or Georgia Trippis? The Fighting Dooleys? Mean Green would even work for
A.J. except he wasn’t too mean.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer