Knee Not Source Of Ache For Texans' Green
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Everybody knew Ahman Green, the football player, was hurting.
But few people outside his immediate family and the Texans' locker room realized Green's lingering knee bruise has been the least of his burdens during his first Houston season.
The man who raised the veteran tailback, Edward Kenneth Scott, came to Houston in late August to find a place to live after Green had signed with the Texans as a free agent during the offseason. When Green changed teams, Scott and Green's mother always changed cities to be near him. They'd lived in Seattle when he broke into the NFL as a Seahawk. They moved on to Wisconsin two years later when he became a Packer.
But Scott's only home in Houston turned out to be a room at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where a virulent, fast-spreading cancer that started in his liver killed him at the age of 70 on Tuesday evening. Green received the news his stepfather was in a bad way as soon as he stepped off a plane from Omaha, where he'd spent the players' weekly day off taking care of other family business.
"When I heard the message from my mom," Green said, "it didn't sound too good."
Scott had beaten back the disease once before. This time, attacking again with a vengeance not long after he arrived here, it overwhelmed his defenses. And his final days weren't good ones, leaving Green with conflicting emotions — and seemingly near tears — as he spoke about his loss after the Texans' practice Wednesday.
"We knew it was coming," Green said, "but it's still tough to handle."
However, he added: "I feel like a lot of stress is off my back, because I didn't want to see him suffer no more. ... When you see somebody you love like that, going through so much pain every day, you almost say, 'Let's get this over.' It was torture watching him go.
"He'd been fighting the cancer for five years. When they told him (he was sick) the first time, they said he had three years tops, so at least he outlived that."
'He made me who I am'
The 30-year-old Green, a 10-year NFL veteran, had known Scott since he was 6.
"He's my stepdad, so he basically raised somebody else's seed, and I'm proud of the fact that he took that responsibility," Green said. "He did an awesome job of taking care of my mom and me when I was growing up."
Scott was there as Green flowered into a high school All-American in Omaha, then saw him lead the Nebraska Cornhuskers to a national championship in 1997, rushing for 206 yards in the title game against Tennessee.
"He made me who I am," Green said. "I've played with a lot of stuff — emotional things, physical injuries, stuff people don't know about. He helped build that confidence and pride to give it all for my team on the field."
A game-time decision
Getting back on the field as soon as possible is certain to be Green's best therapy. He realizes how badly the Texans need his churning legs. And he insists that's what Scott would want him focusing on in these sad days ahead.
"The way my dad raised me," Green said, "he basically said you've got to roll with the punches, whether it's pitty-pat punches or the big ones like my family had (Tuesday). I've got to focus on what's in front of me. If he was standing here right now, he'd say, 'Don't worry about me. Go play football.' He told us to let the tears flow ... and then let it be."
Although Green participated in Wednesday's practice, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said no decision on whether he'll play against Miami will be made until just before the game Sunday.
For the moment, Kubiak says he's not concerned about Green's physical readiness, insisting, "His family comes first, then football. We'll do right by Ahman. We'll have 45 guys to go play a football game. He needs to take care of his family."
Scott's funeral probably will be Tuesday. In the interim, Kubiak's perspective notwithstanding, Green said he'll do what he can to work the soreness out of his knee sufficiently to contribute against Miami. The injury, although not a serious one, is frustrating because he never thought it was anything.
Twinge only tip of iceberg
Worse, the Texans have lost two in a row without Green. After being forced out of the Indianapolis game early in the second quarter, he wasn't an option in Atlanta, where the Texans again struggled terribly on the ground.
"It was like, 'When did that happen?' " Green said of the original twinge, which he noticed in the locker room after the Texans beat the Chiefs in the season opener. "I've bumped knees before, but it never felt like this. It kind of snuck up on me."
Green sounds optimistic the ache in his knee will disappear soon. The ache in his heart? He predicts that will stay awhile.
"I'll never take him off my mind," Green said of his stepfather. "But (playing) will ease the pain a little bit. My dad told me a lot of great things, and that's what I'm going to be thinking about every day."
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