Greenert, along with Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno, will be honored along with veterans and wounded warriors on the field pregame when the Steelers take on the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium as a part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” campaign in conjunction with the upcoming Veteran’s Day.
“It’s everything to do this,” said Greenert. “As a lifelong Steelers fan in Washington and the Navy, I follow them everywhere. I have all kinds of paraphernalia, a Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger jersey and many Terrible Towels. To be there in person is wonderful.
“But I get a two-for, I get to see sailors and our servicemen and women at the same time and thank both teams for what they do for our military members.”
Greenert, who is originally from Butler, Pa., has been a Steelers fan since birth, something that just naturally happened in his family.
“What happens is right after we are baptized there is a blood transfusion of black and gold,” said Greenert. “My dad followed the Steelers so I picked it up on television. Myron Cope became a voice I recognized. There are things you can remember, like the first step on the moon, unfortunately the assassination of (President) John F. Kennedy and the Immaculate Reception, when I was sitting in the kitchen huddled around the radio with my dad.”
More recently he has had the opportunity to meet Steelers chairman and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, Sr., first in 2005 and then spending time with him when Navy played Notre Dame in Ireland this year.
“When I first met him it was a game in Philadelphia and we were walking outside the locker room and there was Mr. Rooney,” said Greenert. “I introduced myself and he was so gracious thanking me for my service.
“Our paths have crossed a lot since then. Recently we went to Dublin and Mr. Rooney was the host. He is a magnificent representative for the Steelers and our country.”
Greenert has seen firsthand what sports means to those who serve in the military, serving as a diversion and something that can lift the spirits of those who are deployed far from home.
“Having been deployed when you have Sunday come around and you have Armed Forces Network and they cover sports and you see people gather together it’s great,” said Greenert. “You have a team like the Steelers with a big following and you look at the person next to you and they are a Steelers fan and they are from all over the place. It’s a way to gather together and talk about home while serving overseas. Franchises like the Steelers are a drawing card that pulls people together away from home.
“When I meet sailors I ask where you are from and talk about what fan they are. Word gets out that I am a Steelers fan and they will proudly say I am a Steelers fan. They will show me Terrible Towels, things like that. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a wonderful way to strike up a conversation and get a connection started.”