PITTSBURGH — Greg Lloyd’s journey to the NFL was never an easy one. Coming from an unheralded Division II school in Fort Valley State University, Lloyd may have come from nowhere.
However, like other guys who are underlooked at smaller schools, Lloyd knew the chip of his shoulder would only grow to try and prove everyone wrong. In fact, the chip is so large that it still may be there to this day, over twenty years since Lloyd retired. Coming from an HBCU gave Lloyd a special kind of pride and edge to his chip. however.
“See, when I hear people say I come from nowhere, the chip stays on my shoulder,” Lloyd said. “You know, when people say I came from a small university, it kept that chip there. They said I came from nowhere, from an HBCU. Then, I look around and see Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, and more. They’re all Historically Black College players and are in the Hall of Fame. So, when I hear that word ‘nowhere,’ it leaves something. I look around and there are great players from similar places.”
Chuck Noll and the Steelers never doubted the talented Lloyd. Despite coming from a Division II school during a time when HBCUs were still to a degree unheralded. Lloyd knows that with that identity comes the grounds of proving yourself to everyone at the NFL level. However, he says HBCU culture allowed him to seamlessly make the transition to that mindset because he had to do that every week in college.
“To know you came from somewhere you know is proven and then coming from somewhere where you know you’re going to have to prove yourself is another,” Lloyd said of the treatment he got coming out of an HBCU. “Coming from college, going to the NFL wasn’t anything. It wasn’t a thing. You know, people go out and see guys, but that was not the goal for most. Where I come from, and they don’t mention this, if you have heart, they can make you a good football player….the last thing you want to be is the guy who is causing them to lose. You want to be the guy who is setting the standard. I believe I did that.”
Chuck Noll never had a problem with finding out if Lloyd was going to be a player. Not only did he absolutely know that Lloyd would be an outstanding player, but he also guaranteed it to former Steelers player Jon Kolb when Lloyd was drafted.
“I was at practice one day and Chuck Noll came over to me and points at Greg and says, “See that guy right there, he is going to be a player,” Kolb said. “Greg never knew that story, but I know he was going to be special from that.”
When it comes to HBCU football, however, Lloyd is thankful a key member of the Steelers’ organization in Bill Nunn. While Nunn opened the doors for HBCU football to be recognized with legitimacy in the NFL, Lloyd hopes that HBCU football continues to be recognized with legitimacy.
“Bill Nunn is probably one of the most instrumental if not the guy who was instrumental in getting Black colleges recognized by the NFL,” Lloyd said. “It’s a shame we didn’t have one HBCU player drafted last year, and it won’t happen again.”
Steelers Hall of Famer Donnie Shell echoed similar sentiments during his Hall of Fame process. He was thankful to enter into the Hall of Fame after being from an HBCU in South Carolina State. Lloyd follows in his footsteps, into the Steelers Hall of Honor from an HBCU.