Green Bay Packers' Ahman Green has plenty of football left in him
Friday, November 20, 2009
Green Bay Press Gazette
Ahman Green wasn’t ready to give up his career in the National Football League. But by the middle of October, 11 months had passed since the 32-year-old running back’s last game, and Green admits he was starting to think about another line of work.
“It was tough,” he said. “But in the back of my head was always (the thought), ‘Stay in shape, be ready to go at the drop of a dime and a phone call.’ ”
Nothing materialized following a tryout with the St. Louis Rams in August, but Green continued to work out while maintaining his residence in De Pere. When the phone finally rang again, Green Bay Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie was on the line offering a tryout.
“My number one goal was to get picked up by Green Bay,” said Green, who enjoyed a stellar seven-year career with the Packers before signing a lucrative free agent contract with the Houston Texans in 2007. “I knew I had a good shot because I was in shape.”
Green felt even better after seeing Packers officials react to his Oct. 19 workout. “I got those looks and nods of ‘OK, he’s still got it. He’s still the guy we thought he was when he left in ’06.’ ”
Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett confirms that Green was very impressive.
“He looked good, he looked healthy, he looked strong,” said Bennett. “You knew right then and there, he still had quickness, change of direction, still had burst. We already knew he was instinctive. And he did a very good job as far as catching the football.”
Green officially signed a contract on Oct. 21 and was in uniform 10 days later against the Minnesota Vikings. On Nov. 8 against Tampa Bay, he ran for 45 yards on six carries to break Jim Taylor’s coveted franchise record of 8,207 career rushing yards.
“It means a lot,” said Green.
Former Packers fullback William Henderson and ex-guard Marco Rivera were the first to send congratulatory texts after Green set the record.
“It’s more of a team accomplishment,” said Green. “I couldn’t have done it without William. I couldn’t have done it without Mike Flanagan, Mike Wahle, Mark Tauscher, Chad (Clifton), Scottie Wells. It’s a long list of guys that basically made my job easy.”
When Green left the Packers for Houston 2½ years ago he was 46 yards short of Taylor’s record and figured he was destined to remain No. 2 on the list, the same place he holds on Nebraska’s all-time rushing list behind Mike Rozier.
Green said he made a business decision but also hated the idea of leaving the Packers. His two injury-plagued years with the Texans only intensified those feelings.
Green never lost his affection for the Packers. He spent offseasons and bye weeks in the Green Bay area. “I always kept my home here,” he said. “I always liked Green Bay.”
The limited playing time in Houston was actually a blessing because Green now has unusually fresh legs for a back his age.
“I don’t put any limitations on that guy,” said Bennett.
Green gives the Packers a proven veteran to spell starter Ryan Grant. He also possesses some intangible assets that could prove valuable in the locker room.
“He brings an attitude with him when he comes to play out on the football field,” said Bennett. “It’s all about winning and competing at a high level.”
Green has a message for the skeptics who consider him washed up. “I’ve always beat the odds my entire life,” he said. “Just tell me I can’t do it, I’m going to go do it.”
Green just wanted another chance, and he’s happy to be home.
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