I had grown attached to Elvis Grbac. Now he had left the building at One Arrowhead Drive, and I was acting like a jilted lover. What would I do with my #11 and #18 jerseys? Why had the Chiefs dumped a quarterback who was just starting to pay dividends (fun fact: Green never matched Grbac's best single-season touchdown output) on the field ?
I had zero respect for Green. I thought the Chiefs had given up a first-round pick for a downgrade at quarterback and Dick Vermeil had never given Grbac a chance to be his starter.
I guess you could say I learned my lesson. I sold my Grbac jerseys on Ebay years ago. I'll hold onto my red #10 until it comes apart at the seams, just like the defenses Green used to torch.
He won me over in 2002. I remember the very moment I became a Trent Green fan.
It's third and goal against the Buffalo Bills on November 17 at Arrowhead Stadium. Buffalo's defense has stopped the normally prolific KC offense all day long, and the Chiefs trail by six points with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. They need a touchdown.
Green drops back to pass and scans the field. There's no one open, and the pass rush is closing in, but he doesn't concede a sack. He tucks the ball and runs out of the pocket toward a trio of oncoming Bills, eager to take his head off. Sliding is not an option.
Green lowers his head as if he's a 250-pound fullback. He closes his eyes and dives for the goal line and the lead as defenders sandwich him, knocking him to the ground.
While this play was happening, Grbac was probably sitting on a couch somewhere, perhaps watching, perhaps not. Wherever he was, he had become the complete opposite of Green - a quitter. He washed out of the league after one horrid season in Baltimore.
This is what we can learn from Trent Green – never quit.
Just like that play against the Bills, Green never quit on himself or his NFL career, when it would have been quite easy to do just that. He's certainly had more opportunities to give up his dreams than the average NFL player.
Small school. Barely drafted. Closest friend was the water boy for the better part of his NFL career. Attempted assassination by Rodney Harrison. Twenty-four interceptions. Playing twice a year against Rodney Harrison. Retirement of Willie Roaf, personal bodyguard and protection against Rodney-Harrison like players. Concussion. Herm Edwards running his offense.
Green never quit. How many of us would throw in the towel after suffering major injury to a part of our body vital to our career?
What if my hand was severed by an angry Sheik in a cultural misunderstanding while on vacation in the Middle East? Would I continue to write with my remaining appendage? Would I start using that awful "you talk it types" software?
What if I was abducted by aliens who took out my brain in order to harvest the secrets of great sportswriting? Would I join NASA in order to hunt them down, or would I quit?
Trent Green didn't quit. He still hasn't quit. He's in Miami, against all odds, trying to teach another bad football team how to play good offense and thinking about becoming the next George Blanda.
Earlier this offseason I suggested Green should retire. I'm holding my ground on that opinion, but it's hard to see it coming to fruition.
What will Green face in Miami that he hasn't already overcome? A bad offensive line? Been there, Roaf'd that. An injury? I'm convinced he has superhuman healing powers (remember the stent?). Dave Barry? He's a puppy compared to Jason Whitlock. Hurricanes? We might have found his kryptonite, but that's not the point.
Green won't retire. He won't quit. It's not in his blood. I'm guessing if you traced his lineage, it probably includes Edmond Dantès, Sisyphus and Job.
In the NFL world of today where players like Randy Moss, Junior Siavii and Barry Sanders all quit, Green is a rare diamond, cut from the hardest of character (Siavii was Cubic Zirconia). I can't think of a better role model for young fans.
Fare thee well, Trent. I'll miss your pinpoint accuracy, superlative command of the offense and outstanding leadership. You never gave me a reason to hate you, and for that, I thank you.
I won't miss your photographs. Have you ever seen a photograph of Trent Green throwing the football? In 99 percent of them, his eyes are as big as dinner plates. Either that's his "big play" look, or the pass rush is really getting to him.
But that's an awfully vain criticism. Here's the truth.
I buckle up every time I step into an automobile because of the late Derrick Thomas. His death taught me a lesson. Because of Trent Green, no matter what I do in life, I resolve to never quit. His time in Kansas City taught me that.
Our previous quarterback taught me that no matter what you own, someone out there is willing to buy it. The Miami Dolphins, for instance. If you ask me, they got a hell of a deal.
What We Can Learn From Trent Green
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