Trent Green Playing with Heavy Heart

Later today Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green will put on his game face. He'll put on his pads and helmet, warm up and head into a hostile environment at Qualcomm stadium in San Diego. He'll be expected to play one of his better games of the season as Kansas City can make a statement today with a win against the Chargers. But for Green, he'll have to do all that just days after losing his father.

When we first heard the news of the sudden death of Jim Green early Friday morning my heart sank a bit. Though I never met Jim Green, I'd like to think I can vouch for his son. Trent Green signifies what we all want our sons to be like. He's persevered through incredible odds to be one of the top and I might add one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the National Football League. Today none of that matters. Most Chiefs fans all ready know the size of his heart. Today every fan who's ever watched one down of Kansas City Chiefs football will be saying a prayer for Trent Green and his family.

I'm not going to pretend to understand what he's even going through hours before the game starts. I still have my father though I lost a Grandfather who to this day is as much a part of my heart and soul as the day he passed away some thirty years ago. From that prospective I understand his loss.

Trent Green will play a football game against the San Diego Chargers that is as important to the future of the 2005 season as any other game this team will play over the next 10 outings. If Kansas City can somehow win today, they'll be in the drivers' seat in the AFC West division. This is the Chiefs last road game in the division and they'll be able to return serve the remainder of the season at Arrowhead. That's a huge plus for this team and a clear advantage for the Chiefs.

But how will Green truly respond to playing today?

Let's face it no matter how strong Green will have to be on Sunday, he has to carry not only the weight of his teammates but also his family. That in itself is something that will have Head Coach Dick Vermeil watching him closely. No doubt Vermeil has talked to Green and given him the option to be with his family at home or his family in the locker room. No doubt Jim Green would want his son to play football today. And that's what Green will do.

As hard as death is for everyone to deal with, the most important aspect and the reality of the tragedy that hit the Green family on Thursday is that life does move on for those who are left behind when a treasured loved one passes away. As a distraction, Trent Green gets to play football. Ready or not he'll have line up in front of his teammates and try to lead them to victory. There is little doubt in my mind that Green will be ready. He'll set the tone based on the examples and principles that were instilled in him by his father.

Green is one of those unique players who just does a great job on the football field. He started his career in Kansas City in 2001. He took an absolute beating that first season. But Green was not going to complain. He'd worked too hard to make it as a starting NFL quarterback to let one difficult season get him down. The next three seasons he was at the helm of the most prolific offense in the NFL. He set one record after another as he began to re-write Kansas City Chiefs history. In the league only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning were his equals in most offensive categories. Not bad for a player who had to wait his turn while other less talented quarterbacks started in front of him.

In 1999, he was all set to lead the St. Louis Rams but his season was derailed when Safety Rodney Harrison blew out Green's knee in the preseason. That low strike ended Green's dreams and everyone knows that Kurt Warner led the Rams to a Super Bowl title later that season. None of that would have happened if not for the sacrifice that Green made. And to his credit, nobody was more of a cheerleader for Warner than Trent Green.

Still that had to be a time of bitter disappointment for Green. But those are things that are supposed to build character and Green's was in tact. After the Super Bowl win, then Rams Head Coach Dick Vermeil retired. Mike Martz took over and Green was relegated to back-up. He took it in stride. A year later everything would change as Vermeil came out of retirement and the Chiefs gave up a first round draft pick for Green as he traveled down I-70 and became Kansas City's new starting quarterback.

Nothing that has happened since the day Green arrived in our great city has teetered anyone's confidence in a man who should remind us all of Hall of Fame Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson. Both men disregarded their age and were very productive quarterbacks in their middle 30's.

Dawson led his generation to a Super Bowl victory and Green hopes to do the same someday with his. But none of that matters with kick-off just hours away. It might mean something next week or the week after but today is all about getting through the day with as much pride, spirit and composure as Green can muster.

No doubt his teammates are behind them. No doubt they feel for their leader. And there is no doubt that they'll be fired up to put a whipping on the Chargers to pay homage to Trent and his father Jim. That's what great teammates and friends do in times like these. I'm sure that when Trent Green clutches the ball for the first time in the game he'll have a lump in his throat the size of the state of California. He won't be alone.

Today is a spot in time that will probably define Trent Green win or lose. This game is not about winning but surviving. In fact, I couldn't care less if the Chiefs win today.

Instead it's more important that the Chiefs team leader gets through the first game in his life that he his father won't be watching from his home in Arkansas or at Arrowhead. Oh I'm sure Jim Green will be looking down on the game. In fact, I suspect that Hank Stram is sitting next to him as they cheer on their favorite NFL team.

Before the game today every single Chiefs fan should take a moment and say a prayer in support of Trent Green and his family. On Thursday, the family lost more than a father. They also lost a husband, a brother, an uncle, a grandfather and a friend. That's far more important to remember and honor than a win at Qualcomm stadium; though a win would be sweet and fitting for Trent Green.

Now that would be an ending that would make his father proud. It would also make his Chiefs family equally as proud.

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