Green good for long haul
Wednesday, September 26, 2001
Green Bay Press Gazette

Article By Chris Havel
Green Bay Press Gazette

The first time Ahman Green touched the football in a Packers game, the reaction in the Green Bay’s little corner of press row was a collective, “Oh, brother!”

Green fumbled the kickoff.

Given the former Seahawk’s penchant for coughing it up, a certain columnist drew a rather hasty conclusion: The guy’s a fumbler.

Always was. Always will be. Case closed.

That was 1,448 rushing yards, 79 receptions and 15 touchdowns ago, which proves that columnists as well as halfbacks occasionally drop the ball.

The Packers are 8-2 since coach Mike Sherman named Green the running game’s designated driver. Certainly there have been a few crashes along the way, several of which have forced fumbles, but the overwhelming consensus is this: The Packers might’ve hit the jackpot here.

Fred Vinson for Ahman Green? Are you kidding me?

Talent was there

With Green, the question was never, “What’s to like?” His talent was readily apparent, but his hands tended to get in the way.

In Seattle, his first coach (Dennis Erickson) lost confidence in him and his second coach (Mike Holmgren) probably never had it. In turn, Sherman saw something in the kid that made him jump at the chance to acquire the former Nebraska star.

Obviously, the NFL’s current rushing leader hasn’t disappointed. In fact, Green is so much better than advertised there should be an investigation. He is powerful enough to be effective between the tackles, and fast enough to get outside if necessary. He is running the old “lead play” to perfection.

It’s the play that Dorsey Levens made famous: The strong, young offensive linemen and tight end zone block, while the halfback picks the most promising hole and explodes through.

When the play works to perfection, it’s almost as if Green is kicking down the defense’s front door, helmet first and at full speed, no less.

The 24-year-old husband and father also has a few intangibles going his way.

He wants to be good

First, and perhaps foremost, he wants to be good. The same can’t be said for everyone in the NFL, and that includes a dwindling few in the Packers’ locker room, although that’s a column for another day.

This is Green’s day, and apparently, his time.

When he incurred a groin injury earlier this season, he treated Pepper Burruss’ training room as if it was the house of miracles. He invariably arrived early for treatment in order to hasten his return to action. Again, the same can’t be said for every player.

In practice, he runs out every play. Not just one or two out of every three, but EVERY play. He sprints the extra 20 or 30 yards downfield, and the habit has paid off.

Here’s a bonus: He seems to be a decent guy off the field. He takes his wife and child to almost all his appearances in town and out.

“He’s proud of them,” said Mike Counter, who co-hosts a local radio show with Green. “They’re in it together.”

Just as Green appears to be in the NFL for the long haul.

Chris Havel can be reached by voice mail at 431-8586.

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