The Inside Slant

The emotions have piled up inside Darrell Green as the end nears. No one expects to play forever, but certainly the fans wanted to believe Green could. They've chanted his name at nearly every home game and he's taken a moment in every game to soak in the atmosphere. He's also had broadcaster Frank Herzog take a picture of him at every stadium this season, with players from the past--and in some cases fans. Here are Green's thoughts as his final game nears.

''The last two weeks it's been tough to sleep thinking about this. My mind goes everywhere. I think about the past and this year, about where I'm going, what I'm doing next. But I don't think about it with some kind of fear. I think about it with excitement about the reality. This has been great. I can say that humbly. It's a miracle.

''When I was sitting at old Redskin Park as a rookie, I wasn't talking about playing 20 years. It was, 'Am I going to make the team? Will I start?' I look out the window today and I can't believe it. I can barely believe it myself. It's amazing, it really is.

''I had a conversation yesterday with my two daughters who are 12 and 16, saying, 'Your whole life has been inside of the Darrell Green thing. Have you thought about that?' It was always a struggle for my oldest daughter trying to find true friends. She said there's beena lot of great things she's enjoyed. My little one would prefer I keep playing. My son, I haven't talked a lot to him about it. Last year he was like, 'Why are you retiring?' He still thinks I'm the best corner in the league.

''But this is going to be fun because we have a lifetime now of reflection and a lifetime to build a new world. It's great--and I wouldn't want to play again, not beyond this year.

''I've thought a lot about the introductions. I haven't had a butterfly in my stomach for eight or 10 years. I would imagine Sunday I'll have butterflies, but I anticipate it with a lot of joy. My mother is not well and I talked to her last night. She was crying, saying she's sorry she can't come. She's just not well. But all my siblings should be here--there were eight of us total. This is what I wanted. This isn't going to be done again--even if it is, it won't be me. This is a special moment and I want my family and everyone in our community that could be there and pack the stadium, put 50 million people in there. It's a special moment for me and my family and our community. I'm going to be pretty hyped.

''The first time in my career that I didn't touch the field on defense was in the [first Dallas game]. That really hurt. Marvin had a tough job here, bringing all these new guys in and the expectations on him. The thing that hurt the most was I wasn't aware that this was a possibility. Even now the nickel spot basically belongs to Bauman, but they've never officially told me. I asked Marvin a couple times, 'Are we making the switch?' It wasn't like I was saying don't do it. But just tell me. He never did and I struggled with that a lot, but the rest of it I was prepared for. Fortunately that was four or five games ago so I'm very comfortable as we land this plane.

''I leave with zero regrets, no hard feelings. Nothing. It's all joy. It's been a joyous career, including this year. All the experiences I've had, winning and losing. It's second to none.''


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