About all that “Mean” Joe Greene wants people to know about him these days is that he’s not mean at all and he didn’t grow up as a mean guy in Temple either.

As far as Greene’s concerned, he’s simply “Dad” or “Papa Joe” and the fellow who had one of the greatest nicknames in all of sports history.

Nevertheless, Greene is enjoying renewed interest in his life and his Hall of Fame football career this season. The NFL Network opened its “A Football Life” fall series last week with a documentary of Greene, whose Pittsburgh teammates consider to be the greatest of all the Steelers and best embodied the spirit of their 1970s dynasty.

Greene will have his No. 75 jersey retired by the organization prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 2 in this the 40th anniversary season of the Steelers’ first Super Bowl title. His will be the first number retired of any of the great Steelers of those glory years. Only Ernie Stautner from the 1950s era has had his Steeler number retired. No one has worn Greene’s No. 75, Terry Bradshaw’s No. 12 or Franco Harris’ No. 32 since their careers ended.

While it’s been 40 years since the Steelers won Super Bowl IX over Minnesota, it also marks the 50th anniversary of his senior season at Temple Dunbar, where he was a two-way tackle for the Panthers of coach Curtis Elliott.

The documentary is an hour and leaves some of us desiring to know a great deal more about Greene’s youth in Temple. So much more was likely left on the cutting room floor. We don’t hear about school life in the final years of segregation or much about his beginnings as a Dunbar football player. The thing about producing films is that there has to be film and there probably wasn’t much of it lying around.

It also would have been interesting to hear about the recruiting process, or lack thereof, at the time. The Southwest Conference was on the verge of integrating with Jerry Levias at SMU and John Westbrook at Baylor. Instead, Greene went to North Texas State where he was literally the big man on campus, so much so that the school adopted the “Mean Green” moniker to match its primary color and the nickname of its star player.

However, there is enough of a glimpse recorded to glean insight on teen-aged Greene.

Greene — whose given name was Charles Edward but his aunt decided he was big and burly like boxing legend Joe Louis and so he became Joe — declined his selection as senior class president because he was shy and didn’t want to speak in front of an audience. We also learned that as an underclassman, he was routinely picked on and bullied, particularly by an older student described only as “Speedy.”

As classmate Charles Myers recalled, Speedy took $5 from Greene that his mother had given him. Greene had his fill of being taken advantage of and pummeled Speedy. “Joe never had another problem with Speedy,” Myers said.

That incident appears to have helped change his persona as he began playing football. “I grew up having to fight,” Greene said. “I wasn’t playing football. I was fighting.”

The 1964 Dunbar team was a break-even squad featuring Henry Milton, Leroy James President, James Shaw, Morgan Dawns, Charles Atkinson, James Granderson and Leroy Coleman, who played the opposite tackle from Greene on the offensive line and went on to become the head coach at Waco University for 27 years. They played their games on Woodson Field on nights that didn’t conflict with Temple High games.

After not winning their first two games, Elliott moved Greene and Elmer Venable from linebacker to tackle on defense, which appeared to inject some toughness along the line as the Panthers’ defense became more difficult to deal with. That subtle move may have opened wider a door to Greene’s long-term future as one of the most dominating defensive tackles in the history of the game.

The film reveals Greene’s humanity, beginning with the iconic Coca Cola commercial that softened his image and continuing with his being named Steelers’ team captain, which forced him to take seriously his responsibility as a leader.

There is also a tender moment in which Greene is barely able to speak when asked about the other members of the Steelers’ vaunted Steel Curtain — L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. Greene is the lone survivor. He was also a pallbearer at coach Chuck Noll’s funeral last summer. “I’ll keep them alive,” he states. “I miss them a lot.”

The film is a reminder to those of us who watched Greene play and to those who didn’t about what a tremendous, franchise-changing player he was. He was the first building block in the Steelers’ rise to immortality.

Greene softly says, “That guy that played football is gone.”

Perhaps, but the film and the subsequent retirement of his jersey ensures that the football player who got his start at Dunbar won’t be forgotten. Thanks, Mean Joe.