Packers' RB Green Outsmarts Bears
Thursday, December 13, 2001
Associated Press


GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- When Ahman Green was a boy, he had his barber shave the ``Batman'' symbol in the back of his head. When he got to Nebraska, he had the Caped Crusader tattooed on his left calf.

Now, it rests on his chest -- a necklace so studded with diamonds you get the feeling it could shine up to the heavens like the summoning spotlight in Gotham City.

Even as his NFL stardom grows, the Green Bay Packers' versatile 24-year-old running back remains a fan of Batman. And not just the big-screen bat, the beefy, lantern-jawed crook-thumper, but of the campy television series of the 1960s.

Green can relate to a superhero who's less than perfect.

``He got beat up every now and then,'' Green said. ``Batman does get his butt kicked. But you always see him popped back up and ready to go for the next villain.''

Kind of like Green, who sports a rare combination of speed and power for a running back his size -- 6-feet and 217 pounds.

On Sunday, the Chicago Bears stymied him for much of the day before Green helped lead the Packers to a 17-7 victory.

Green gained just 26 yards in his first 11 carries but the Packers kept pounding the ball and Green broke off runs of 11, 12, 15 and 29 yards in the second half and finished with 125 yards -- the first 100-yard day by a Bears opponent in 21 games.

``They were riled up in the first and second quarter, running their mouths, talking jibber-jabber,'' Green said. ``But we knew if we keep pounding the ball, they're eventually going to wear out and be quiet.''

Green scored the decisive touchdown and saved another as the Packers completed a sweep of the Bears to take control of the NFC Central. The teams are both 9-3 but Green Bay's two wins give it the tiebreaker.

Green also became the first rusher to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Green Bay since John Brockington in 1971-73.

``I didn't really know that,'' Green said, praising his offensive line. ``When you get 1,000 yards, it's not just one individual effort. It's the effort of 11 guys.''

But it's Green's presence that has made the Packers formidable.

Shipped out of Seattle two summers ago by Mike Holmgren, who grew tired of his fumbling, Green has turned into former general manager Ron Wolf's second-best steal, behind Brett Favre, whom he plucked out of Atlanta in 1992.

It could prove to be just as important.

Green leads the NFC with 1,094 yards rushing and 1,612 yards from scrimmage. He's been the Packers' leading rusher and receiver since replacing an injured Dorsey Levens last year, leading the Packers to victory in 13 of their last 16 games.

His best play Sunday came without the ball.

Just before halftime, he chased down Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher after an interception and pushed him out at the Packers' 17 to save a touchdown. The play loomed even larger after Paul Edinger shanked a 23-yard field goal as the first half expired.

With four games left, Green is just shy of the 1,175 yards he rushed for last year and within striking distance of Jim Taylor's club record 1,474 yards set in 1962.

Running backs coach Sylvester Croom, who was the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator during Barry Sanders' career, said in many ways Green could be better than Sanders.

``Barry was a more explosive runner, but as a complete back, Ahman Green is working into being one of the best ever,'' Croom said.

As the yards, accolades and praise pile up for Green, his wallet is about to become a little lighter -- and not because he'll be running out to catch the latest Batman film.

Green got off easy last year when he celebrated his 1,000-yard season by buying his offensive linemen dinner at Brett Favre's Steakhouse and the tab came out to $550.

``I've talked with Marco Rivera,'' Green said, ``And he said dinner ain't gonna cut it.''

Unless, of course, it's in a nice New Orleans restaurant in February.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved

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