The big Greene

ATHENS — There's probably never going to be a David Greene Pass in Athens.

David Greene knows that.

Barring disaster, the Georgia senior will become the winningest quarterback in collegiate history if not by the end of the week, then by the end of the season, but it seems he'll never reach the legend or lore of the man he's about to displace.

With a victory Saturday against a hapless Kentucky team in Lexington, Greene will become the first quarterback ever to win 40 Division I-A games. He and former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning now share the career wins record at 39.

"I don't brag about many records, but I do like to brag about that one because it's a team record," Coach Mark Richt said. "Without question, he has an awful lot to do with those victories, but that really is a team record."

"That's a credit to (Greene)," quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said. "I know it's a team game, but it's a credit to him that he's such a team guy."

But where Manning was memorialized in Knoxville, Greene is nitpicked in Athens.

Manning has a street through the UT campus named for him. Greene can walk down many of Athens streets without being recognized.

Manning has a life-sized statue near Neyland Stadium. Greene can watch his popularity peak and plummet on the Internet from week to week and game to game if he wants.

Manning is remembered as one of the best college quarterbacks ever. And Greene shares playing time on his own team.

"He really hasn't gotten a lot of credit for what he's done here over four years," Bobo said. "I think he's just been playing for so long a lot of people take him for granted. Everybody expects him to go out there and complete every pass."

Greene either holds or will hold every meaningful Georgia passing record, and he will be the SEC's all-time passing leader if he averages just 109 yards per game the rest of the season. He's never embarrassed the Bulldogs off the field. And he's one of 15 national members of the 2004 National Scholar-Athlete Class thanks to his play on the field and a GPA north of 3.0 in risk management and insurance.

This season, he has completed 121 of 208 passes for 1,746 yards. More impressively, he has 15 touchdowns and just one interception.

Still, he's perpetually one drive away from hearing a segment of the team's fans call for more playing time for backup D.J. Shockley.

"A guy wins 39 games for you and then he doesn't hit a couple passes in a game and people want to pull him out," fullback Jeremy Thomas said. "I think he does get taken for granted. People don't realize how special he is."

Greene's an easy target. He's affable, hard to rile and rolls with just about any punch; which he proved in 2003 by playing through more than 40 sacks and dozens more hits and knockdowns without once blasting his offensive linemen. He shares an Athens house with defensive end David Pollack, who, according to Thomas, "can be pretty agitating."

"Even he doesn't agitate David, and they live together," Thomas said. "David's a cool customer."

Greene even graciously takes flack from members of the media who cover the team. Asked this week to name his five favorite victories, he started with, "Florida."

More than one reporter quickly asked, "Which year?," knowing, of course, that Greene only beat the Gators once in his career.

"Funny, funny," he said with a laugh. "I've always been one that doesn't let a lot bother me," Greene said.

"I don't get all bent out of shape over little things. It helps me in football, really. Playing the position I do, you get criticized a good bit. I don't take it too seriously.

"It really comes with the position. You're always judged on your last performance. It doesn't matter what you've done in the past. As long as you understand that, you can deal with it."

Greene deflects the credit for his milestone to his teammates and the program, and he also is going to leave the question of his legacy to others.

"That's something you'd have to ask the fans," he said.

Although Greene may not get his due in Athens, coaches around the league have a tremendous amount of respect for him.

"In just my experience in playing against him, regardless of the circumstances in any of the game, he showed tremendous leadership for his team," LSU's Nick Saban said. "He affects his teammates in a positive way. I can't say enough about the guy in terms of the amount of respect we have for him and what he's accomplished."

South Carolina coach Lou Holtz is most impressed by how Greene has reacted to sharing time with Shockley.

"I see them on TV and when Shockley comes in there, (Greene) is always encouraging him," Holtz said. "He's about team, and that's the ultimate compliment that can be paid to a quarterback."

A street sign or a statue wouldn't be bad, though.


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