What's Next For Trent Green?

On Friday afternoon the Kansas City Chiefs received some very good news. Green has been cleared by doctors to return to practice. Though he's not been cleared to play in a game, this sets the table for his eventual return to the starting lineup.

It's been six weeks since Green was knocked unconscious. Since then there has been a whirlwind of speculation that he would hang up his cleats once and for all. Another hit like the one that was delivered by Bengals defensive end Robert Geathers, and that might very well be the case for Green.

Now that he's been cleared, what can we expect out of him when he does return?

Common sense dictates that he's going to struggle to get back into the flow. Consider the fact that Green had been working out at Arrowhead since March.

Since then, Green has tried to keep in shape as best as he can. He's done some light workouts, but more importantly, there appears to be no ill effects from his sabbatical. He's coherent, driving again and joking with his teammates in the locker room.

The last two weeks, Green has traveled with the team and has been chomping at the bit to get back on the field. He's been bending the ear of his head coach about plays, formations and ideas he has for the offense when he returns.

That might be a good thing for an offense that has struggled to find the end zone. That should change under Green, but there is no guarantee that he can do any better than Damon Huard if the offensive line doesn't improve.

But that's not the issue at hand, at least not for me. I haven't spent much one-on-one time with Green over the last four years, but I can say without a doubt that there is no more loyal member in the organization..

I've made comparisons in the past likening Green to Hall-of-Fame quarterback Len Dawson. There is no doubt their two careers mirror each other, including this season where Green has missed nearly half the games due to an injury. Dawson missed the same amount of games in 1969, only to return and lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory.

Could that happen again in 2006?

It's debatable, and as a realist, it's not likely that history can repeat itself. But as a fan, you have to ask yourself: why not?

That would be great, but the bigger picture in all of this is how Green will treat the remainder of the season.

For me personally, I can't see Green playing another season in the NFL. He has a great family with three young children, he has a promising broadcast career and he's found a home in Kansas City. He has everything a man could ever want and his intense loyalty to the Chiefs should not determine if he plays another season or two.

Instead, he should give everything he has into turning around the 2006 season and going out in a blaze of glory by playing in the big game in February.

Green's career has been a testimony to perseverance, but the NFL can be cruel. Injuries, cheap shots and bad timing generally have a way of beating down the best of men who have strapped on their helmets through the decades.

Despite that, sometimes the good guys win out.

It's hard for some to imagine that Green's career will end this season but it's quite possible. The Chiefs drafted Brodie Croyle last April and Herm Edwards is on record that he is the future.

Loyalty and pride are everything to Green. That's what makes him such a special human being.

But when he's thrown his last pass in the NFL, regardless if it comes at the end of the regular season or in the post season, he needs to look back at his entire career and make the decision to return in 2007 based on nothing more than what's in his heart.

Yes, he owes the organization loyalty for giving him a chance to be a starter again after safety Rodney Harrison nearly ended his career six years ago. But in the end he's given everything that one man can give back to an NFL franchise, and if he doesn't return for another season, we should all wish him luck and appreciate the last five-plus seasons and bid him a heartfelt adieu.

If he does return in 2007, then the Chiefs need to return that loyalty by rebuilding their offensive line so Green has all the weapons he needs to make another run at excellence.

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