His decision to sign with Houston in free agency was the worst.
"Yeah, I'm not going to deny that," Green, a four-time Pro Bowl running back, said in announcing his retirement on Thursday night. "When that decision came down in March 2007, it was something that I honestly thought I was dreaming. I thought I was half out of it. I was literally sick to my stomach. To this day, I don't know why that decision was made. But, I'm a man. I made that decision and I have to live with my decision. I went down there and represented myself and played as hard as I could play."
Playing hard was a hallmark of Green's superlative career. After rushing for merely 329 yards in his first two seasons with Seattle, he was dealt to the Packers on April 15, 2000, in one of the more lopsided trades in franchise history. In a masterstroke by Ron Wolf, the Packers got Green and a fifth-round pick in that weekend's draft in exchange for cornerback Fred Vinson, a second-round washout in 1999, and a sixth-round pick.
"It was really a surprise," said Green, who remains in the area as a student-teacher at De Pere High School while he works toward a master's degree in hopes of becoming a coach or athletic director. "I had talked with Mike Holmgren, who was the GM/head coach in Seattle, a month (or) two months prior. He was excited about my development. We talked about how I could push Ricky Watters (for the starting job). Lo and behold, a couple months later, I'm a Packer. I took it as a blessing in disguise. I didn't put my head down and say, ‘Oh, man, what's going on?'"
Green thanked a lot of people during his news conference, including the fans, former teammates and former coach Mike Sherman, but singled out Dorsey Levens a couple of times. When Green was acquired, Levens was coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns. Though he was the undisputed top dog in the backfield, Levens graciously welcomed Green to the team.
"I'm sitting over there at the Midway Hotel," Green recalled, "just off a plane from Seattle and here for the minicamp. (Levens) sent me a text message saying, ‘Whatcha doing?' I'm like, ‘Sitting here watching the NBA playoffs.' They said, ‘Come to The Bar,' which is basically a two-minute walk from the Midway Hotel. ‘We're having wings and watching the game. Why don't you come and join us?' I walked over there and hung out and that's where our friendships began. I sat there with Dorsey and William (Henderson), Basil (Mitchell), De'mond (Parker). That right there brought me back to my college days. It was that family-oriented atmosphere. When you have that camaraderie, that's when you have good teams. We had a lot of good teams."
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
His 2003 season was one for the ages. His 1,883 rushing yards, 2,250 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns set franchise records. Twice he set the team's single-game record, including a 218-yard game against Denver in which he set a team record with a 98-yard touchdown.
"What I remember from that year is that in any other year, I would have led the NFL in rushing, but my buddy Jamal Lewis had 2,000 yards," Green said. "I know how effective we were. If it was third-and-8, we were going to run the ball and most likely get a first down. That's how confident we were as an offensive unit. Running the ball was our bread-and-butter stuff. Any team that put eight or nine in the box, we weren't scared of that. We were going to run the ball right at them."
After his 2005 season was cut down by a torn tendon in his thigh, he returned to rush for 1,059 yards in 2006. After two injury-plagued seasons in Houston in which he started just six games and scored five touchdowns, Packers general manager Ted Thompson brought Green back at midseason in 2009. Green's impact was minimal but his 160 yards gave him 8,322 yards for his career to break Hall of Famer Jim Taylor's franchise-record 8,207.
"Ahman was a special player, no question about it," coach Mike McCarthy said. "His numbers speak for themselves. The thing I always appreciated was his running style — just the forward lean and explosion that he had as an in-line runner, and he also had the unique ability and speed to finish long runs. He's a Packer for life and that's the way it should be. I was proud to have the opportunity to work with Ahman."
Green, who is planning to open a D1 Sports Training franchise in Green Bay, is thankful to close the book on his career on his terms and with the team he loves.
"I was given a great opportunity to come back here," Green said. "Ted gave me that opportunity in 2009 to come back here and to take some weight off my shoulders from that decision and break Jim Taylor's record, which stood for 43 years. That opportunity alone took a ton of weight off my back and gave me a chance to exhale and breathe and, at this point, look back on my career and know I did something special as part of a great organization."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.