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Hall of Fame defensive lineman "Mean" Joe Greene isn't sure whether he would have thrived in the modern NFL.
a story published Thursday by , the Pittsburgh Steelers legend credited the NFL for taking steps to protect the health and safety of modern football players while also admitting that the vast changes to the game might have curtailed the physically that helped him reach the Hall of Fame. Forbes
"I used the head slap that Deacon Jones started, but you can't do that anymore," Greene
told "And I would go after quarterbacks below the knee, and you can't do that anymore. Forbes.
"If the defense I was playing with played the game today, we might have two guys on the field by halftime. I'm not saying we were doing things illegal. We were a very physical team, and some of the things they are calling today, we'd get ejected for it."
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Greene, of course, was the anchor of Pittsburgh's famous "Steel Curtain" defense in the 1970s, which helped lead the franchise to four Super Bowl titles under coach Chuck Noll. He later worked as an assistant coach for several teams before joining the Steelers' player personnel department.
stressed to that Noll made sure his teams played by the rules, so if the rules were different, he believes he would have adapted his game. But when asked by the outlet if he still would have made it to the Hall of Fame if he had been playing in the modern NFL, Greene said he wasn't sure. Forbes
"Still, I have to give the NFL some credit here," he told
Forbes. "We're in transition. We're going from where we were to where we like to be to make the game safer, and that place now is not it. So there's going to be some rough spots, and we're in it right now." Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
Related slideshow: Best of NFL season (provided by photo services)
49ers linebacker Elijah Lee (47) tackles Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant (12) in Santa Clara, Calif., on Nov. 1. The 49ers won 34-3.
George Kittle (85) of the 49ers celebrates with Raheem Mostert after a touchdown against the Raiders on Nov. 1.
Raiders Wide Receiver Dwayne Harris (17) hurdles 49ers Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (41) on a kick return on Nov. 1.
Raiders running back Doug Martin (28) is tackled by 49ers outside linebacker Elijah Lee (47) on Nov. 1.
Tom Brady of the Patriots loses control of the ball on a hit by the Bills' Lorenzo Alexander on Oct. 29, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Patriots won 25-6.
The Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, right, makes a catch against the Bills' Phillip Gaines on Oct. 29, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
The Patriots' Julian Edelman, right, collects a punted ball as the Bills' Andre Holmes, left, and Ramon Humber tackle him down on Oct. 29, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Minnesota's Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by New Orelans' P.J. Williams during the visiting Saints' 30-20 victory on Oct. 28.
Minnesota's Latavius Murray (25) leaps for a touchdown on Oct. 28.
New Orleans' Alvin Kamara (41) dives the end zone for a touchdown on Oct. 28.
The Los Angeles' Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay's Randall Cobb on Oct. 28. The host Rams won 29-27.
Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald (11) celebrates his catch for a two-point conversion during the host Cardinals' 18-15 victory over San Francisco on Oct. 28.
Indianapolis' Chester Rogers, left, scores a two-point conversion during the visiting Colts' 42-28 victory over Oakland on Oct. 28.
Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt, right, celebrates after sacking Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield (not pictured) during the host Steelers' 33-18 win on Oct. 28.
Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz runs for a gain against Jacksonville during the Eagles' 2-18 victory in London on Oct. 28.
Chicago's Tarik Cohen (29) returns a punt against the New York Jets on Oct. 28. The host Bears won 24-10.
Seattle's David Moore, left, catches a 15-yard pass for a touchdown against Detroit on Oct. 28. The visiting Seahawks won 28-14.
The New York Giants' Eli Manning (10) is sacked by Washington's Matthew Ioannidis (98) on Oct. 28. The visiting Redskins won 20-13.
Carolina's Greg Olsen (88) catches a touchdown pass against Baltimore on Oct. 28. The host Panthers won 36-21.
Tampa Bay's Adarius Taylor, left, tackles Cincinnati's Joe Mixon on Oct. 28. The host Bengals won 37-34.
The New York Giants' Odell Beckham (13) makes a catch against Washington on Oct. 28.
Denver's Justin Simmons, right, attempts to tackle Kansas City's Tyreek Hill on Oct. 28. The host Chiefs won 30-23.
Carolina's Christian McCaffrey, left, catches a deflected pass for a touchdown against Baltimore on Oct. 28.
DeAndre Hopkins (10) of the Texans catches a pass defended by Xavien Howard of the Dolphins on Oct. 25, in Houston. The play was disallowed because of offsetting penalties.
The Dolphins' Mike Gesicki (86) is upended by the Texans' Kareem Jackson (25) after a catch as Tyrann Mathieu (32) looks on, on Oct. 25.
The Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is lifted by teammate Nick Martin (66) as they celebrate a touchdown against the Dolphins on Oct. 25.
The Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler (8) is hit by the Texans' Josh Keyes (49) as he tries to throw on Oct. 25.
Tevin Coleman (26) of the Atlanta Falcons runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the New York Giants on Oct. 22, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 23-20.
Running back Saquon Barkley (26) of the New York Giants is tackled by DeVondre Campbell, left, Desmond Trufant (21) and Grady Jarrett of the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 22 in Atlanta.
Sterling Shepard, left, of the New York Giants catches a pass against Robert Alford of the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 22 in Atlanta.
Takkarist McKinley (98) of the Atlanta Falcons sacks New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) on Oct. 22 in Atlanta.
Kansas City's Kareem Hunt, left, dives for the pylon to score a touchdown against Cincinnati on Oct. 21. The host Chiefs won 45-10.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley II (30) runs past San Francisco linebacker Reuben Foster (56) to score a touchdown during the visiting Rams' 39-10 victory on Oct. 21.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass during the visiting Saints' 24-23 win over Baltimore on Oct. 21.
Washington wide receiver Josh Doctson (18) is unable to catch a pass during the host Redskins' 20-17 victory over Dallas on Oct. 21.
Cincinnati's Tyler Boyd, center, is tackled by Kansas City's' Steven Nelson, right, on Oct. 21.
San Francisco tight end George Kittle (85) gives a stiff-arm to Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters (22) on Oct. 21.
Los Angeles Chargers' Denzel Perryman, center, celebrates his interception during a 20-19 victory over Tennessee in London on Oct. 21.
Detroit tight end Michael Roberts (80) scores a touchdown against Miami on Oct. 21. The visiting Lions won 32-21.
Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz, right, makes a catch despite coverage from Carolina free safety Mike Adams on Oct. 21. The visiting Panthers won 21-17.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, top, dives over Cleveland outside linebacker Jamie Collins on to complete a 14-yard touchdown run during the host Buccaneers' 26-23 overtime victory on Oct. 21.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30), right, is tackled by Tennessee strong safety Kendrick Lewis (28) on Oct. 21.
Minnesota's Adam Thielen, left, catches a touchdown pass during the visiting Vikings' 37-17 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 21.
Buffalo tight end Charles Clay (85) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Indianapolis defensive back Mike Mitchell (34) on Oct. 21. The host Colts won 37-5.
Tampa Bay wide receiver DeSean Jackson scores a touchdown against Cleveland on Oct. 21.
Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, bottom, fumbles the ball as Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus dives to make the recovery during the visiting Texans' 20-7 win on Oct. 21.
Chicago wide receiver Kevin White, right, and New England defensive back J.C. Jackson jump to try and catch the ball during the visiting Patriots' 38-31 victory on Oct. 21.
Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy (25) is tackled by Indianapolis cornerback Kenny Moore (23) and linebacker Anthony Walker (50)on Oct. 21.
Phillip Lindsay (30) of the Broncos scores a 28-yard touchdown over Bene' Benwikere of the Cardinals on Oct. 18 in Glendale, Arizona. Denver won 45-10.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) scores his 111th career touchdown, tying former NFL player Tony Gonzalez, as Broncos defensive back Shamarko Thomas defends on Oct. 18.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders of the Broncos flips in to the end zone after catching a 64-yard pass against the Cardinals on Oct. 18.
Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen (3) gets the throw off as Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) makes the hit on Oct. 18.
49ers defensive end Ronald Blair (98) sacks the Packers' Aaron Rodgers (12) on Oct. 15in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 33-30.
The 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin celebrates a touchdown during the first half on Oct. 15, in Green Bay, Wis.
The 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward tackles the Packers tight end Jimmy Graham during the first half on Oct. 15 in Green Bay.
C.J. Beathard of the 49ers runs with the ball against Kentrell Brice of the Packers on Oct. 15 in Green Bay.
Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill catches a pass before running it in for a touchdown against New England on Oct. 14. The host Patriots won 43-40.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, throws an interception in the end zone under pressure from New England linebacker Dont'a Hightower on Oct. 14.
New England running back Sony Michel (26) scores the second of his two touchdowns against Kansas City on Oct. 14.
New England's Stephen Gostkowski, right, kicks the game-ending field goal as time expired against Kansas City on Oct. 14.
Houston's Jadeveon Clowney, left, pulls Buffalo's Chris Ivory down by his dreadlocks during the host Texans' 20-13 victory on Oct. 14.
Dallas' Cole Beasley, right, dives between Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey, left, and Barry Church during the host Cowboys' 40-7 victory on Oct. 14.
The New York Jets' Darron Lee (58) intercepts a pass against Indianapolis on Oct. 14. The host Jets won 42-34.
The Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley II (30) runs for a gain against Denver on Oct. 14. Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards in the visiting Rams' 23-20 victory.
Tennessee's Corey Davis, center, is tackled by Baltimore's Eric Weddle, left, and Jimmy Smith during the visiting Ravens' 21-0 win Oct. 14.
Atlanta's Julio Jones, center, is tackled after making a catch against Tampa Bay on Oct. 14. The host Falcons won 34-29.
Carolina's Christian McCaffrey (22) is upended by Washington's Mason Foster (54) on Oct. 14. The host Redskins won 23-17.
Cleveland's Antonio Callaway, left, is unable to make a catch against the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 14. The visiting Chargers won 38-14.
Seattle's David Moore (83) scores a touchdown against Oakland during the Seahawks' 27-3 victory in London on Oct. 14.
Arizona's David Johnson (31) breaks a tackle attempt by Minnesota's Trae Waynes during the host Vikings' 27-17 victory on Oct. 14.
Miami's Danny Amendola, center, is flipped by Chicago's Roquan Smith, left, and Leonard Floyd during the host Dolphins' 31-28 overtime victory on Oct. 14.
Cincinnati's Tyler Boyd catches a touchdown pass against Pittsburgh on Oct. 14. The visiting Steelers won 28-21.
Washington's Paul Richardson celebrates his touchdown against Carolina on Oct. 14.
The Eagles' Fletcher Cox (91) tackles the Giants' Saquon Barkley on Oct. 11, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Eagles won 34-13.
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz celebrates with quarterback Carson Wentz (11) and running back Corey Clement (30) after making a touchdown catch against the Giants on Oct. 11.