For Bears' Greene, NFL a necessity

For Chicago Bears fourth-round linebacker Khaseem Greene, achieving his NFL dream puts him in a position to continue supporting his family, which includes 11 younger siblings.

What is the NFL Draft process really? A compilation of numbers that predict how a player might perform at the next level? Or is there something more buried deep in the process?

For Chicago Bears fourth-round pick, linebacker Khaseem Greene, it's as much about the emotion of the moment as it is about where in the draft he was chosen.

Greene, a standout at Rutgers, has all the tools for success. After a 2012 season in which he had 136 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 interceptions, its easy to see why Greene was selected Big East Defensive Player of the Year and was projected by most experts as a second-round pick.

But there is much more to this young player, something only hinted at in his shaking voice as he spoke with the media shortly after being selected. Football isn't only a sport to Greene, it's everything. Most importantly, the NFL will offer a path to an easier life for Greene and his 11 siblings.

When asked if he was disappointed not to have been selected earlier, Greene immediately responded:

"All I wanted was to hear my name called. I am so blessed to be in this position. My family is blessed. We'd talked about this possibility a lot. It's something I worked so hard for. It's something that we need as a family. Now it's a reality. I am truly living my dream. It's surreal, unbelievable, a testament to my hard work and dedication and to the hard work and support of my family and my coaches. None of us ever gave up."

From an early age, Greene assumed the role of the man of the house while his father, Big Ray, served time in prison. Visits to his father were brief and intense, with Greene's father demanding his son follow a path far from what he himself had chosen.

Greene's mother worked seven days a week trying to keep food on the table while Greene kept track of his siblings. He and his brothers and sisters all stayed in school and avoided the temptations of the streets. Greene's younger brother, Ray Graham, is now a tailback for the University of Pittsburgh, a position Big Ray once played at Purdue.

Greene mentioned an immediate connection with Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, formed during the scouting combine and reinforced during Greene's recent visit to Halas Hall.

"I love him," Greene said. "He told me that I reminded him of a player he'd coached before. That was important to me. I felt I belonged. Coach Tucker made me feel confident and excited to work for him. I want to justify his faith that I deserve to be with the Bears."

For Greene, it was all about the emotion of achieving a lifelong dream.

"I've played football since I was five, always hoping my skills would take me someplace good. I felt an immediate connection when I came to Chicago. It seemed like the place I was meant to be. I don't know what to say. This means so much that I can't put what I'm feeling into words. I'm thinking it's wonderful to be a part of something so special."


Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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