Ernie Green the Consumate Pro

Ernie Green is living the good life as the head of Ernie Green Industries in Dayton, Ohio. It was a long and twisting road that took Green from Columbus GA to the University of Louisville to the Cleveland Browns to president of Ernie Green Industries.

Green arrived at the U of L through an odd set of circumstances.

" My football coach in high school received a telephone call from Coach Wood," Green recalled. Coach Wood was on Coach Camp's staff at Louisville and he had called because four years prior to that a young man had been recruited from Parker HS in Birmingham - Andy Walker. Andy played at Louisville and when he was about to graduate Coach Wood was interested in talking with Andy's high school coach to determine if their were any other athletes that the coach thought were capable of playing at Louisville.

"They (Parker High) didn't have a very good team that year - in fact we had played them. The Parker coach suggested that Coach Wood talk to my coach Otis Spencer at Spencer HS in Columbus GA. My coach recommended that they take a look at me and the story developed from there."

In those days there weren't a lot of Southern schools giving scholarships to black players.

"I had had conversations with the coach from Florida A&M, Tuskegee and other black schools," Green said. "But at Louisville and other schools like that no one knew I existed."

Ernie played at Louisville from 1958 through 1961 under the legendary Frank Camp and gained 1,584 yards on the ground.

"A great coach," Green said. "A great disciplinarian, someone who would work your tail off to make you better, he was a good man."

The experience a U of L benefited Green because it made him a well-rounded player.

"Back then we were just trying to do what we were asked to do," Green explained. "When I learned to play the game we were taught to do it all - block, run, kick, tackle the whole thing and this followed me to Cleveland when you were in a situation whatever I was asked to do I was capable of doing it."

When Green graduated from Louisville Green Bay drafted him, but fate stepped in again.

"I was traded over to Cleveland," Green said. "Back then Ernie Davis had been traded to Cleveland after being drafted by the Redskins and he became ill and never had an opportunity to play and Vince Lombardi had a great relationship with Paul Brown and made the trade and I went over to the Browns."

Green played for the Browns from 1962-68 and rushed for 3,204 yards and also had 2,036 receiving yards. He had the opportunity to play along side two of the greatest running backs in NFL history Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly.

"No doubt about that," Green mused. " A great experience - Jim (Brown) is the greatest runner in my opinion that ever played and I adored Kelly and of course Paul Warfield was on that team - Frank Ryan, Gary Collins and Wooten, Hickerson, Schafrath. A great ball club, great human beings.

"A lot of people knew the game very well and they had sense enough to figure things out themselves. The coach didn't have to draw a diagram for these guys because they had been around long enough that they could figure out on the field what to do and we did that a number of times in some very crucial ballgames."

Green was an outstanding blocker and a good receiver.

"I had pretty good hands," Green remarked. "I was a baseball player too and took an awful lot of pride in my ability to catch the ball and I did catch a lot of balls coming out of the backfield and loved to do that."

Green made the Pro Bowl in 1967, but the highlight of his career in Cleveland was winning the NFL championship in 1964 defeating the Baltimore Colts 27-0.

"That was one of the big ones," Green said. " Because when you walk off the field when it's over and you look in a mirror and you say to yourself - wow you're part of the best team in the NFL this year and that's pretty special."

Looking back at that championship game Green recalls that it was quite a surprise to lot of people.

"If you go back, Green said. "They (Baltimore) finished early - they had won their division maybe two or three games before the season ended and we didn't win until the last game of the season. We won late and had a little momentum going into the championship game and Baltimore was a little sluggish and we came out and held them the first half and came back in the second half and just beat them real good ."

Green lives in Dayton, OH and is head of Ernie Green industries, which makes parts for the automobile industry.

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