All in the family

Once he determined that the Detroit Lions were not going to offer up enough money to keep him, Barrett Green decided he'd take several free agent visits before figuring out which suitor would gain his services. But after his very first visit, Green decided no more trips would be needed and he signed with the Giants. <BR><BR>

A rash move?

"I felt comfortable in this situation, that was more important to me than dollar signs,'' Green said.

Consider it a natural fit. Perhaps Green was destined to wear the Giants uniform. His father, Joe Green, was a defensive back for the Giants in 1970 and 1971. When it came time to picking a new team, the son unquestionably hearkened back on the positive experience his dad had with the Giants.

"My two favorite teams growing up were the Dolphins and the Giants,'' said Barrett Green, who says he speaks with his dad, who lives in West Palm Beach, every day. "I grew up watching the Giants, my dad used to play for ‘em; he was an avid Giants fan. He's enjoying the hell out of it. He got a good enough taste of New York where he enjoyed it thoroughly, he has great memories of it and he always reflects upon the positives.'' Now that he's here, Green hopes to stay longer than his father did and make more of an impact. Green moved in immediately as the starting weak side linebacker, replacing Dhani Jones, who replaced Jessie Armstead, a Pro Bowler who came to represent the ferocity of the once-feared Giants defense. That reputation took a beating in recent years and Green is on the scene to help stoke the fires once again.

"I look at it as being a helluva opportunity,'' Green said. "It's what I've been waiting for, something I worked for and something I think I deserve. I'm going to go out there and try to light it up. That's what I do.''

If Green can indeed "light it up'' the entire Giants defense will reap the rewards. At 26 years old, he's entering what should be the prime of his career after four solid seasons in Detroit. Almost forever, Green has heard he's too small to play so big, and indeed, at 6-0, 225, he's doesn't even qualify as a big safety. He's a tiny linebacker, well-built but short. Speed is his greatest asset and it's a physical attribute the Giants have been searching for and desperately need.

As part of a major renovation – for the first time since 1967, the Giants will start a completely new trio of linebackers – Green and strong side ‘backer Carlos Emmons are considered upgrades over Jones and Brandon Short, who started in those spots the past two seasons. "It's always odd to go to a new team,'' said Emmons, once a respected opponent with the Eagles. "Everybody was looking like 'We've seen him do this when we played against him but we want to see it first-hand.' When you get with a new team everybody's expecting to see you do something special and I look forward to giving that to them.''

Said Green, "It's a very exciting possibility. We're well aware of the things that have gone on here in the past and the inability of the defense to be productive and make big plays and we feel that's what we do very well.''

Emmons signed a five-year deal worth $16.5 million, while Green agreed to a five-year contract worth $13.25 million. Green, at least facially, bears a striking resemblance to Armstead, something he's heard (and is tired of hearing) since he arrived. The Giants hope he can in some way measure up to the standard Armstead set.

"He's short, but he packs a punch,'' Emmons said. "That's what people are going to see when the games start.''

From the very start of training camp, Green noticed a difference between the team he left and the team he joined. Detroit is not New York and the Lions are definitely not the Giants. "The buzz is definitely more intensified,'' Green said. "Maybe it's the fans, maybe it's all the media attention, but you can just tell this is very important to these surroundings. That's a good feeling.''

It helps Green that he's not in this alone, as he can share all the newness with Emmons. That they're in it together, two new 'backers in new surroundings, benefits both players.

"It kind of helps us adapt to a new situation, being that we're both first-timers in the Giants system and in this city, we can both help each other acclimate to the new environment, the new team and the new scheme,'' Green said. "We talk about it all the time, whenever something comes up we're always there to help each other, on the field or off the field.''

Both players were stung early in their Giants careers by injuries that held them back and attracted the ire of coach Tom Coughlin. Emmons, coming back from a broken left leg suffered in the final game of the 2003 season, started quickly in training camp and then needed to sit out the remainder of camp when his leg experienced a setback. Coughlin didn't like that. Green missed time with an assortment of injuries and Coughlin didn't hide his frustration.

The two seasoned pros, though, did not blink when Coughlin growled, knowing they are more valuable to the Giants when completely healthy. They made it to the regular season and were ready to show the Giants that they're worth the investment the team made to them.

"We do different things well but at the same time the one thing we have in common is we're both very versatile,'' Green said. "We can both stay on the field on all downs, we can both rush the passer, both play the run and both defend against the pass. I think those are rare qualities we both combine.''

As far as the adjustment, Green has settled in. "The first few days was kind of weird putting on the dark blue helmet,'' he said. "I'm getting more and more used to it and I'm happy to be a Giant now. I hope to finish my career here.''


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