Erk Russell, incomparable legend, once told me that Steve Greer was the toughest player he ever coached.
Tenacious, physical, incredibly athletic, lightning-fast and yes, titanium tough, Greer, who weighed less than 200 pounds, and was an All-American Defensive Guard. One of the greatest players in Georgia’s storied football history, he was a vital part of the Bulldogs Southeastern Conference championship team of 1968 and was voted Team Captain while earning All-American honors in 1969.
Football was an enormous part of his incredible life.
After playing professional football in Canada, he went into coaching, and had a stupendous career, primarily at his beloved alma mater, primarily coaching the position he played – the defensive line. Greer was a key member of the Bulldogs coaching staff that led Georgia to the 1980 national championship and three consecutive SEC titles from 1980-1982. Along with on-field coaching, Greer served in several roles, including recruiting coordinator and director of football operations.
He was universally adored, admired, respected and revered by all of his players, teammates, coaches, fans and everyone associated with Georgia football.
Steve Greer passed away at the age of 74 on December 13, 2021. Stricken with ALS, he fought a courageous and inspirational battle.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Susan, three sons Stephen, Jeff and Michael, and six grandchildren.
Tremendous as he was as a player and coach, Greer was an even better husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend.
“Steve was a great player, a great coach, a great husband (Susan was the devoted coach’s wife), and a great father (they were the best hunting and fishing family),” says iconic Bulldogs head coach and athletic director Vince Dooley. “He was an inspiration to us all the way he handled his affliction. God Bless him and his family.”
In 2014, Greer was inducted into the University of Georgia’s Circle of Honor, the highest distinction a Bulldog athlete or coach can receive. A prep All-American at Greer High School, he was inducted into the state of South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
At both ceremonies, he was surrounded by his family, friends, former players, coaches and teammates.
“He was an inspiration to us all,” says his longtime friend, teammate and fellow Bulldog assistant coach Charlie Whittemore, All-SEC wide receiver. The bonds of the 1968 SEC championship team have run deep since those glorious days.
“Without a doubt, Steve Greer was the best friend, teammate and person that I had the privilege to know,” says his longtime friend, teammate and fellow Bulldog assistant coach Mike Cavan, All-SEC quarterback. “We go back a long way and he was always there for me. He will be missed by many! I truly loved him like a brother!”
Greer’s influence spanned numerous generations of Georgia football.
Greer was a member of the Georgia football staff when Kirby Smart played in the 1990s. Greer’s son Michael, a terrific wide receiver, was a teammate of Smart’s. The Bulldogs current Head Football Coach posted this tribute on Twitter following the news of Greer’s death:
“Rest In Peace Steve Greer – thank you for everything you’ve done for UGA and me personally. Great coach and mentor! But an even better man and father!! You will be missed terribly.”
Georgia’s J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks paid tribute to Greer with the following message:
“Coach Steve Greer will go down as one of the greatest to ever wear the G. My first boss and mentor at UGA. I will forever be grateful to your guidance, love, and wisdom you shared with me and my family! He embodied everything it means to be a Bulldog! Rest in Peace Coach.”
There were hundreds and hundreds of tributes the day Coach Greer passed away.
Here are but a few from some great Bulldogs:
“Great player, Coach and friend. I will miss him. RIP Coach.” Frank Ros – Captain, 1980 national champions.
“Fighter! God Bless Steve Greer.” – Chris Welton, starting Rover 1980 national champions.
“Very sad, but glad he is at rest. Rest In Peace Coach.” – Rex Robinson, All-American 1980 national champions.
“A loving coach. They don’t get any better than Steve Greer.” – Lon Buckler, starting wide receiver 1981 SEC champions.
“Sad, sad day. We have lost a great one in Coach Steve Greer.” – David Dukes, four-year letterman 1984-1987.
“So sad. A great man who is in a better place, no longer suffering.” – John Lastinger, starting quarterback 1982 and 1983.
As an avid, loyal, die-hard Bulldog since my early days growing up in Statesboro, I read, watched, and listened to every single thing I could about Georgia. Coach Russell was kind enough to let me hang around and inundate him with questions about the Bulldogs, and I sure realized how special that was. I loved hearing about those players from the 1960s and ‘70s, and Steve Greer was one of Coach Russell’s favorites.
When I started school at Georgia in the Fall of 1991, he quickly became one of mine.
He was tough on the field, intimidating for sure. But his heart was big, and he always lifted you up.
In 1993, I had a very difficult job. I was asked to be on the selection committee to choose the “Georgia Girls” recruiting hostesses. When the process was done, Coach Greer took me to dinner at the famous Charlie Williams Pinecrest Lodge. He also had a cold beer waiting on me. Talk about living the dream. I was with the great Steve Greer, drinking a beer, at Charlie Williams eating a lot of fried shrimp, fried chicken and hush puppies.
That was a great night.
As I got older, he offered constant encouragement rich with compliments. Like his family, his players, his coaches, and his teammates, he made me feel great. When I went through a hard time, he called. He was always gracious and appreciative when hearing the numerous times I would talk and write about what a great Bulldog he was.
Living with that terrible disease, he never complained. He was always upbeat. The last time I got to interview him, it was in the Autumn of 2020 as part of the University’s 40-For-80 podcast tribute to the 1980 national champions. He was with his old friend Coach Whittemore, and it was wonderful.
I always cherished seeing him. Like so many, I loved the man.
Steve Greer is running in heaven, now an even richer place. He’s with Coach Russell, Kent Lawrence, Jake Scott, and all his teammates, friends and family members lost throughout the years. His legacy and influence at the University of Georgia will live forever.
Steve Greer, Georgia legend and a Damn Great Dawg.