Thanks for the memories, Ahman

PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh provides one final view, in the second person, of former Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green.

Thanks, Ahman. Though you left Green Bay this week for Houston, you are one of the greatest Packers ever. Considering the NFL Packers have been around since 1921 and have 21 players in the Hall of Fame, you are in select company.

Still, you had to leave the Packers. During your peak years in Green Bay, you were not compensated as well as you could have been and now you had the chance. Everybody wants to be compensated fairly for what they do, so you are no different. You just make the type of money unimaginable to the common man.

You scored big with the Texans, probably bigger than you should have, but your work ethic earned you a hefty payday and still gives you a chance to prove your doubters. Good luck running behind that offensive line in Houston, though. Players like Mike Wahle, Marco Rivera, Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher do not play there.

Departures in the NFL can be a messy thing. You left this week, though, on seemingly good terms, and though most Packers' fans are sad to see you go, they seem to be at peace with your decision to move on. Should you be fortunate enough to be considered for the NFL Hall of Fame someday, you will go in as a Packer – regardless of what you do in Houston. At the least, there is most certainly a spot available for you in the Packer Hall of Fame.

So what makes you one of the greatest Packers of all-time? Well, to start, your humbleness and effortless running style should be two items at the top of the list.

You were soft-spoken in interviews, yet usually faced the media when constantly hounded about fumbling. You never got too big when you became the top back in the NFL and never publicly made a stink about your contract like some of your ex-teammates, though you could have. And when you had personal problems that became public, those problems did not affect your professionalism on the field. You kept working hard and succeeding.

You had so many runs that were memorable and so many that seemed so easy. Eight runs over 50 yards with the Packers is an incredible total. At the top of that list was the 98-yard TD run against the Broncos during your monster year of 2003. Though it was essentially meaningless to the outcome of the game, it was still sheer beauty and grace. It was blocked perfectly and you found the open hole on the right side like you have done so many times. This time, though, the entire football field was in front of you. For the first, say about 50 yards, it looked like you might be caught, but running with that trademark upright style and consistent stride, there was really no chance of a defender catching you. Not many regarded you as one of the fastest backs in the league, but at 218 pounds you were just that.

Though you pounded tacklers with effort, it never seemed like it was that hard for you. You just lowered your shoulder and made running with a lean look natural. You mastered the intricacies of power running when nobody really thinks such a style has a technique to it. As a result, third-and-one became a synonym for first-and-ten when you got the ball in such situations. It was automatic.

After your first few years in Green Bay, head coach Mike Sherman and offensive coordinator Tom Rossley even changed their offensive philosophy for you and your offensive line. So good were you together that they really had no choice. The evolution brought you 1,883 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns in 2003, two single-season marks which are among the best in NFL history. When Wahle or Rivera pulled from their guard position that year, it was like being taken back to the 1960's when the old power sweeps dominated the Packers' ground game. For the first time in a long time, the Packers were regarded as a running team. The pass was just a complement, even with Brett Favre at the controls.

It would have been a fitting honor to see you pass Jim Taylor for No. 1 on the team's all-time rushing list next year, but falling just 45 yards short is nothing to be disappointed about. Only a handful of running backs in NFL history can match your rushing and receiving total of 10,870 yards with one team. Included in that group are Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Jim Brown.

In the end, unlike any time in your career Ahman, it came down to money. That is the sometimes sad reality of the NFL, but it also the ultimate equalizer for many teams. Still, you were the perfect fit in Green Bay. You were humble, straight-forward, and embraced the small-town environment. Your trade from Seattle in 2000 was destiny, and though you never got to a Super Bowl, your years in Green Bay will not soon be forgotten.


Matt Tevsh

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.


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