Conference Call Transcript: Darrell Green

Darrell Green held an extensive Q & A today with the media. Here is the full transcript.

Q. Congratulations on your entrance into the Hall of Fame. I enjoyed reading your blog and how you described your emotions when you found out you had been elected, almost like an out of body experience, and how nervous you were leading up to that announcement. Would you please just talk about that?

DARRELL GREEN: Yeah, I told the story, I was talking about how we woke up Saturday morning and my son, I guess he had just had enough of it. He said, "Man, why are you so nervous, you know you're a shoe-in."

I said, "Man, are you crazy?"

We got into this conversation, he says, "Ever since I was a kid I heard this and I heard that and then I saw it for myself; you're first ballot."

And I said, "You know what, it just hit me. You're seeing my career from your perspective. I'm seeing it from mine." I was JV (junior varsity) in 11th grade, walked on in college, dropped out of school, went back and always told me I was too small, blah, blah, blah. And so we kind of realized, you know what, you can respect what I'm feeling and I can respect what you're feeling. But now you understand why I'm not a shoe-in when I'm looking from my vantage point and where I am from your vantage point as my son from a kid who has heard it all his life, seen it, everybody told you. So it was really interesting.

But I think I am in my own heart -- you know, matter of fact when I received the NFL's Man of the Year, I got up there and actually started crying and said: I don't feel like I deserve this." I said to myself, "Well, if you feel like you deserve it, you'll probably act like you deserve it; and if you act like you deserve it, you won't deserve it and they won't give it to you."

So I think the real heart and real character of a man does present itself in moments like that, and I'm grateful for the character that's in me that has a genuine humility about those type of things, and with that, when you do get it, I think it brings with it an incredible amount of appreciation.

Q. The longevity that you enjoyed in the NFL and the character of the men you spoke about, how much of that work ethic came from your father? I understand he worked many years in a coffee factory and pretty much did the same job for 30 years. How much did you take from your father from things like that?

DARRELL GREEN: Everything. My dad was actually a lab technician for Maxwell House Coffee, General Mills, and he was a pretty sharp guy and he was a guy who went to work every day, taught us, came home; we cut the yard, we washed his car. We were from the days of when kids did what their dads and parents said do and obey them and respect them and got to work and see all sides of them and looked at their examples.

I think that's everything. I think that's where I was mostly influenced, you know, as a child and I think that's good, serving the community. My mom would say go and take this over to these people and we would go over kicking and screaming, and that's what I did as an adult.

I think we learned a lot from my parents just by what they did and what they said, and it absolutely I think carried over to my success. When I got drafted, I was like the other kid. I came out of college and got a job. I just happened to be a football player and I worked for the Washington Redskins, Incorporated, or whatever. It was my approach and I think it carried me 20 years. I think the way my parents trained us; our Christian faith certainly made us to a point where we kept things in perspective all the time, and it just was awesome.

I think everybody can say this, but I can say that this has to be the most appreciative Hall of Fame inductee in the history of the Hall of Fame from so many different vantage points, with a wholistic vantage point, and not just football.

Q. I wanted to ask you, you were the defensive back of the Washington Redskins for 20 years, and you carry not only your legacy to the Hall of Fame, but also Sean Taylor, the defensive back of the Washington Redskins.

DARRELL GREEN: You know, I can't really carry Sean Taylor's legacy. Obviously we were with the same team and we will always be forever associated with that team. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the fullness of this man's capability but we saw a few glimpses and it would not be too far out of line to say he could have potentially been a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

I knew Sean on a very brief two or three handshakes in the hallways there, but I didn't know him super well, but from what I saw and what I heard, he certainly was a solid young man and growing in that perspective and just a solid, solid football player.

Q. Speaking with Mike Haynes he said he enjoyed watching you play and he always challenged guys on his team, wide receivers or offensive players to see if they could take you and he said no one ever could. Who were the receivers that gave you the toughest time as you look back on your career? Who is the handful of guys that you knew your plate was going to be full on that Sunday?

DARRELL GREEN: I think my perspective was such that I looked at them all in such a way that all of them would be giving me a fit that day, that particular day; When I'm facing Michael Irvin and I'm facing Jerry Rice, fortunately for me, the majority of my career, I was always covering the Michael Jordan of the team so, I don't really have to shuffle guys. You name the team and I'll tell you -- you'll know who I was probably covering.

And so, with that, it was a built-in level of respect. Do you remember the game, the Championship Game where fourth down and goal, Anthony Carter? Well, the ball, actually wasn't thrown to Anthony, but they tried to clear that area out with Anthony and knew he would take a lot of attention.

So I always felt that every play, the guy that I'm playing, the ball will most likely go through him; the ball will go through this guy. So every play during that game is the play, and so I had -- everybody was a threat to me all the time, because I wasn't covering the B and C guy. I was covering the guy that brought them to the dance.

So with that said, let's name them: Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, Mike Quick, Roy Green, Tony Hill -- help me out here, you can just continue to name the guys, and that was my world on a week-in and week-out basis. And so there was none of them that I go, wow, got a cool day today. I got Jordan this week and I got Barkley the next week; that's kind of the way it was.

That's a great thrill to me. I really do appreciate that.

Q. You mention on the day that you were elected last February, the significance of Emmitt Thomas also be elected. Can you talk about how you took from him his Hall of Fame skills? How did he translate what he did to you?

DARRELL GREEN: Well, I can't really speak to that. I didn't really see Emmitt play. I don't have a lot of visuals of his playing years. Really, what he brought to me is when I met him when he became my coach, and it's ironic, you know he coached Art first before he transferred over to defense and coached me; now you talk about something interesting.

But when we sat down, I just said he could have -- I knew him now, like: "Coach, what do you have, what are you going to do about me?"

And he said: "Nothing about you. Just do what you've been doing." So what he brought to me was an appreciation and a knowledge of what I was doing and not to begin to try and adjust that, but saying, you're doing it; you're doing what you need to do because I know what it takes at that position.

And so I really did appreciate that from that standpoint.

Q. What was the high point of your playing career in Texas? Do you play youth football, and if you did, what did it teach you and how did it help you get to where you are today?

DARRELL GREEN: They didn't teach me nothing (laughing). I only played -- and I'm actually writing a book right now. In middle school, I actually played for my elementary school, instead of playing with the guys my age, I played with the guys my size.

So I ran home about a mile and a half every day, and when I was in middle school and played with the elementary team and in eighth grade, I wasn't able to do that, obviously I got too old and in eighth grade I didn't play and I was a little afraid, a little small.

Tenth grade, I ran track and 11th grade I walked on and walked out there to be put on the Junior Varsity. Wasn't my plan, but that's what happened, and I made the Varsity my senior year.

So I really don't have any coaches that gave me, you know, that I could say this or that; I could say they gave me an opportunity when I did try. But it didn't teach me anything when I first started; just taught me that I could play, and that I needed some help getting over the fear and insecurity of being told how little I was and how I can't play, and all of those other things.

And so it didn't help me much. You know, I had my own internal issues to deal with to become a player, which again, I think goes back to my dad, who said: Boy, you can really play that ball and that was encouraging. But that, against all of the voices of, man, you're too little or get out of here little guy you're too small, you're scared.

So his voice eventually prevailed, but really early on, I was -- you know, I can't say anything benefitted me. I was struggling trying to just stand up out there and face the guys on a day-to-day basis. I was a little fella and I was scared.

Q. Can you talk about talking to Steve about this and is it rewarding to know that today's players still view you as a model of athletic excellence?

DARRELL GREEN: You're talking about Steve Smith?

Q. Correct.

DARRELL GREEN: Steve Smith called my office and got in touch with me or -- through a punter I was with, I can't remember his name; called my office and asked me to call him back and I did. And he said: "You know, I just admire what you've done and spoke to this guy about you. I want to make the most out of my career."

I was so impressed about that. I very much wonder about my teammates and others as I got older, and I was like, man, I could still cover, I could still run, I was in better shape than them; I was faster. I used to say: Wow, I wonder why these guys don't come to me and say, hey, look, what's your secret.

So when Steve did that, I was so impressed with that, because that's what I would have done as a kid, as a young man. And so we never did get to hook up just based on schedule, but it was a most impressive thing to me. It just impressed me of his character and a guy who is thinking outside of the box and not thinking that he knows everything and that he's God's gift, but had enough wisdom and humility to say, I want to get more out of you.

So that's all I could speak about that. We didn't get to hook up and we didn't get to see each other at the Super Bowl when I was there prior to the induction and just could not work schedules, but that's class to me, real class.

I apologize, this gentleman was saying, how did I get over the fear and the little bitty guy and struggles that I mentioned. In the eighth grade, I came up with a plan and I said, when I get to high school, which at that time was tenth grade, I'm going to go on the track team. I was running with all of the track kids in P.E. (physical eduation), anyway, so I knew I could run.

So I said: I'm going to go and get on the track team and become an athlete, in the State of Texas, football is huge. If you're coming in competing with three high schools and one middle schools, those coaches know everybody, but I was a nobody and didn't do anything in middle school.

So I said I better go and run track and at least get on the athletic radar, and that's what I did. I had a plan to go out there in the 11th grade and ironically enough by the time I went out there, they had a game in about two or three games and I was three vacillating.

They said: Well, we'll put you on the Junior Varsity we'll go with that.

So I said thank you, at least I get to play, so I did.

So I can't say that -- I think I overcame it with wisdom and just maturity and growing confidence in time and age, and again, that voice in my head from my dad saying, "you can really play"; not saying, you're going to be great or whatever, but at least he was a voice saying, you know, I believe in you. Not even telling me to go play, just saying, "hey, I think you can play."

Q. I'm sure you remember when you tracked down Tony Dorsett on the Monday night game, a lot of guys said that that was a turning point in that rivalry and that prior to that, Dallas had the best of you guys because they were faster. But when you tracked him down, it was like a light bulb went off in everyone's head that the Redskins had just as much athleticism and speed as Dallas did, if not more, and you lost that game but after that, you ended up beating Dallas more than they beat you. Did you look at that play as maybe a turning point for that rivalry, and perhaps even the franchise?

DARRELL GREEN: No, I didn't. I never seen thought about that. First of all, that play was not that big to me. That was a bad play, if anything, the guy just ran 450 yards on us and down in the red area. So it became famous in retrospect, but in that moment, it was a bad play. It was nothing to be honored and happy about.

But I had never thought about it in any regard, but I'm going to -- because what you just said; because I did not know that. All I've heard in my latter years is when they beat us like eight or ten in a row, and actually we beat them for my last game to beat some drought, but that's interesting. You guys know everything. You gave me some information.

Then again, with me being a kid, I didn't know anything about the rivalry and what the numbers were, and nobody ever said that like you just said it. That's certainly something worth looking at it, and if it is, I'd be very happy to hear that.

I think that yes, potentially a lot of teams do do this, and I don't know if they did, but a lot of teams in the east, they drafted to match up. You drafted to match up against each other. Bobby Best (ph) could only answer that, but if he drafted me to sort of match the speed of Philadelphia and the Giants and Dallas and so forth, that's a great honor, but I never heard that.

Q. That came from Rich Pettibone.

DARRELL GREEN: Well, if he's saying it, it's legit I guess, but I don't know, that's very interesting. I'm very proud to hear that, that I brought our speed up to a different level. I was the fastest guy in the league, so I guess we did get one up on them.

Q. How does the departure of head coach Joe Gibbs affect the Washington Redskins for this season?

DARRELL GREEN: I don't think it will be an issue. I think that they had been playing generally, you know, right at the line football, and you know, so they wasn't killing the league when he was here for the second session, and I would imagine they will at the minimum stay right in the middle of the pack as they are and hopefully grow from there. So I don't think his impact, as opposed to the impact of ten years ago or whatever years ago; it will be nowhere near that impact.

So I think that this is a great time for Zorn, for him to take it, hopefully he can be the new young Joe Gibbs and the guy that just puts his head and feet to the grind and go for it.

Q. Who will be presenting you at the Hall and why did you present ask that person to present you?

DARRELL GREEN: I've got Crystal, Jerrell and Joi, those are my three daughters. I've got one son, Jared Paul Green. He's a sophomore at the University of Virginia, scholarship wide receiver, my only boy, my best friend and that was a no-brainer. He is my boy, my best buddy, and no one else ever crossed my mind.

Q. Who is faster, you or him?

DARRELL GREEN: Well, I tell you what, he just told me today that he's been burning them up, man, so I would have to say he is. From what I'm understanding, I think I'm officially second-fastest guy in the family, and there's only two of us in here, so I'm No. 2.


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