Ahman Green was born to be a Packers running back
The team's all-time leading rusher details his rise to stardom, from a virus that could've killed him to a broken jaw to leaving defenders in the dust at Lambeau Field.
We have declared this “Old School Week” at Go Long and nothing screams old school football like a good ‘ol fashioned sweep at muddy Lambeau Field.
So, it seems like a perfect time to check in with the franchise’s all-time leading rusher: Ahman Green.
Nobody — not Jim Taylor, not Paul Hornung, not John Brockington — ran for more yards than Green. His stretch from 2000 to 2004 is right up there with the best in NFL history. The 2003 season was particularly special with Green rushing for 1,883 yards and 15 touchdowns. You may remember that Packers team losing to Philadelphia on a fourth and 26 in the divisional round of the postseason but, of course, first came the Packers’ decision to punt on fourth and 1.
In this conversation, we relive that moment, what made the Packers’ running game special and bring it all back to Green’s childhood, too. Long ago, a near-death experience and a broken jaw set the course for his life.
These days, Green is taking on a completely new challenge as an Esports coach at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wisc.
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What is your day-to-day really like now?
Green: Coaching Esports down in Lakeland. So I wake up in the morning, get a bite to eat, and then work out and then get on the road to Lakeland to talk to my players. We’re in the offseason right now, getting ready for spring season, so I’m making sure they’re staying on top of their mechanics with the game. A lot of games are first-person shooters so we work on their aim and accuracy, dynamic of strategy, and basically get to know their teammates. Also, recruiting players. I’m online reaching out to players at different high schools across the country — here in Wisconsin, Illinois, all the way out to California, Texas and Florida — to recruit players into our university for Esports.
I unwind with my wife and two dogs. We’re empty-nesters so all of the kids are out on their own living their own lives.
Where does it really start for you? Is it right in Omaha? How far back does your memory go when you first picked up a football and what made you who you are?
Green: When I was just walking and talking around two, three years old, I remember going to my first football game as a toddler watching one of my brothers, who played running back at Omaha Central High School. I remember coming onto the field, the game was over, and I’m amongst the crowd just trying to get to my brother to tell him “Good game.” My Mom is carrying me. And he picks me up and puts me on his shoulder pads and walks me off the field.
Those memories stayed in my head as I grew up. My stepdad, him raising me, he played football. He was an offensive lineman. So, I kind of learned from an offensive lineman point of view. The battle in the trenches is how I learned. That’s where my mentality came from. I knew it was going to be a grind. It was going to be tough. It was going to be a fight. And I was ready for it. My stepdad taught me that you have to fight for four quarters and battle for every little inch you get, for a touchdown or a tackle or to break tackles. It’s not an easy sport to play but if you learn how to play the sport the way it’s supposed to be played, you can be very good at it and you can be very successful at it.
I read at one point that you looked up to Walter Payton. Is that true? Did you have any other influences when you were consuming this as a fan?
Green: Yeah, he’s definitely one. He’s one of many who influenced me. Walter was the guy my brother directed me to right away. Between 10 and 15, he said, “If you want to be a running back, you watch this guy. That’s how you run the ball.” So, I did. Whenever I could watch highlight films or NFL films or anything that had “Walter Payton” in the caption, I would watch it. Once I got to college and then to the NFL, there were DVDs and VHS tapes — “Pure Payton.” The ’85 Bears and what they did to win the Super Bowl. I was able to watch a lot of his content. I used it just like reading a book. When you’re told to read a block, you can learn “How to do this.” I watched those videos and I read his book, too, to learn how to become a really good running back, but also a human being. Because he was a guy who actually helped the community he lived in, in the Chicago area, by doing foundation work. Creating the Walter Payton Foundation. I learned how to be, not only a fantastic running back, by watching what he did but also a fantastic human being. Him being a running back was just part of his life.
Him, Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, Steve Largent, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Marcus Allen. They were some of the other few athletes. Ken Griffey Jr., Kirk Gibson, Magic Johnson, were the bevy of athletes I followed and I watched what they did. And I try to mimic it basically and say, “You know what? I could do that.” I see them doing it and know I can do it.
I don’t know if many people know about your childhood. Anything you went through — even outside of the game — that shaped your world view? Or made you who you are?
Green: Definitely. I remember my first real physical trial, I was probably around six or seven years old. About six. We were living in Glendale, Calif., at the time. Me and my Mom. She had met my stepdad. I was outside playing with friends and being a kid, messing around, I had this little gob of silly puddy. I was playing with it and bouncing it around like a ball in my neighborhood, and I threw it up on this balcony. It got stuck up there. And instead of just going up the staircase to get it off the ledge, I decided to climb up the railing. I slipped and fell off the railing, and I broke my jaw. I actually landed on the top part of the railing that basically went through the bottom part of my chin and into my mouth. So, I’m yelling and screaming in pain. I know I blacked out a few times because I don’t remember how I got to certain places. I just remember when I came to, I noticed I was still bleeding. And my sister was standing next to me. My Mom. I think they had called the ambulance and the ambulance picked me up and rushed me to the ER. I remember all the doctors over me patching me up and getting me fixed. As a kid going through the excruciating pain, some of it I remember and some of it I don’t.
When I look back at it, I’ve been through things like that physically where, as football came around, my pain threshold was — because of that — on a different level. Hitting and running into guys, I can flash back to that moment and think, “Wait a minute, this is not that bad. You had worse.”
Another one, when I was 1 ½ half, two years old, I remember my Mom telling me a story where if she didn’t do what she did at the right time, I would not be talking on the phone right now. We’re taking a Greyhound to California. Between Nebraska and getting to Arizona where we had to stop basically. On a Greyhound, you stop at every other state to pick up people and go on to the next state. By the time we got to Arizona, I had caught a virus that had dehydrated me and basically ate away all of my baby fat. So, she rushed me and said, “Something ain’t right with my baby.” She took me to a local hospital, even though we’re on a Greyhound in a foreign state at the time. She had a feeling something wasn’t right. The doctor said, “He has this virus that is somehow eating away at his baby fat. It’s dehydrating him. If you didn’t bring him in, he would’ve died of dehydration. So, they plugged me with a bunch of IVs. I didn’t even hear that story until I was a freshman in high school. I was like, “Really?!” Something clicked in my head on endurance and putting up with things and my pain threshold, like “Wow.” I didn’t realize that, before I was 10 years old, I had been through a lot of things where a lot of people were like, “That’s rough. I don’t know how you got past that.”
As an adult, I kind of roll with the punches with a lot of the things that’ve happened to me in my life. I had things, once I got older in life that happened to me, I’ve had people tell me, “Man, I probably would’ve killed myself. How did you get through that?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. I just did. I just kept pushing hard and working hard and telling myself it’s going to get better.” There’s always a silver lining somewhere. And it always goes back to those two moments, as a kid, where I didn’t understand everything.
Your Mom had to be horrified. As a father of a 2-year-old and 5-month-old now, I cannot fathom seeing something’s wrong, seeing you wither away, and she doesn’t know what the problem is.
Green: She took it as, “I’m going to be a parent and go with my intuition and take you to the doctor. I don’t know what it is. I’m not a doctor. But something’s not right with you.” If you can find anything from it, my two older brothers who were with us, they were 14 or 15 years older than me and in high school. They’re teenagers. They’re looking at me — once I came out of the hospital, with the IV fluids — and now I’m back to normal health, as close as possible. My two brothers looked at me, “Our little brother doesn’t have any baby fat!” I had all these muscles popping out everywhere. And that’s what they were excited about. I’m like, “What!? I almost died and all you were excited about was that I was yoked at two, 1 ½ years old?”
So, once you got to the hospital, you were OK?
Green: Yeah, they pumped like three or four bags of IVs into me overnight. My Mom said it took like 48 hours for the doctors to feel comfortable with me leaving the hospital.
And with the jaw, you just blacked out. That’s instilling a threshold of pain that you didn’t know you had. That’s what you’re born into and what made you?
Green: Correct, and the parts I remember after that — while I was healing, as a kid — I’m five, six years old and in first grade and obviously I’m out of school for the time I was injured. But when I got to the point I could go back to school, my mouth was wired shut. The doctor did that because my body was growing and he wanted to make sure my jaw healed up perfectly because of my age. He said to me, I remember in the doctor’s office, “I have to wire your jaw shut buddy.” And I kind of asked him through my wires, and I had my Mom translate to him, “So he can’t eat foods?” And he said, “No, he can eat food. He just has to eat it through a blender.” I’m like, “A blender? I’ve never done that before.” And I’m mumbling this through my wired-shut mouth. It was six weeks that my mouth was wired shut. I would say about two to three weeks in, I’m eating protein shakes, all these other supplement things, because I’m a growing kid and I need vitamins and minerals to grow. Before that, I’m used to what my Mom made in the kitchen. From spaghetti to lasagna to burgers to fried chicken and turkey for Thanksgiving. About 2 ½, three weeks in, I’m like, “Mom” — talking through my mouth that’s wired shut — “Mom, can you go to McDonalds, get me a Happy Meal and put it in a blender for me, please?” … I was like on the brink of tears. Like, “I can’t take these protein shakes anymore!” They all taste the same and I’m used to this. She was like, “You know what? I’ll go do it.” And she did. She went to McDonalds, got me a Happy Meal, put it in a blender and I didn’t care how it tasted. I drank it. I drank it and was happy. I was like the happiest kid on the planet at that time.
It sounds disgusting.
Green: It does. But when you’re six years old? At that moment? Nothing matters. I’ve got to have it.
You also said that people go up to you and have said, “If I went through what you did, I would’ve killed myself?” What other stuff have you been through?
Green: My first wife and me being married to her, the good thing out of that was I had two beautiful daughters. … As a kid and a young adult when we were dating and engaged, I was kind of aware of them but I didn’t really know the mental health issues that she really had. They were put on me. She was very manipulative. She was toxic toward me. What brought it out of her, unfortunately, was my success. We started dating in high school. She was pretty much my high school sweetheart, and from the moment of my junior year when I started getting recruited for football from schools around the country, I remember her attitude started to change. She thought I was doing things — “Are you cheating on me? Are you talking to this person?” I’m like, “We’re together every day.” We’re in high school. I have school. I have work. I’m playing football. I’m running track. I barely have time for myself. So, it was like six months of being accused of things I wasn’t doing. I’m between the age of 16 and 17 and basically getting mentally abused, and didn’t understand it. I would talk to my friends and occasionally talk to my Mom about it. But you’re a teenager trying to talk to your parents about somebody that you’re dating, that’s all one-sided. They’re saying, “Leave her. Don’t talk to her again.” Which, as an adult, I understand it. As a kid, I was like, “Help me through this. I don’t want to leave her. I know she can get better.”
For years, I tried to stay with her and fight through it. But her trust was broken. Mental things when she was a kid that I found out later, that she never addressed in her life.
Me wanting to be the father I wanted to be, the husband I wanted to be didn’t work out the way I wanted it to because of that first marriage. And then from the damage I incurred from that first relationship, it damaged me in ways I didn’t see until later. It mentally damaged me, in terms of my trust in people and how I looked at people differently. And how I needed to find belief or trust in somebody else. It was tough for me because of the mental pain she put me through. Every day, I’m still working on it now. The hardest part was seeing my kids go through what she did. She would use my kids against me in so many different situations that it made me feel terrible. By the time I got to the NFL and I’m a Seahawk and a Packer, people see that, and they just look at it. “He’s another football player doing what football players do.” Abusing or not taking care of their family. It wasn’t that. I was trying to play football and then obviously manage something I had known for years but didn’t have the answer for it. Some of it was kind of twisted around on me in ways. But in other ways, I was just trying to survive and play football and be a Dad and be a husband.
What my Dad would say all the time is, “You’re trying to do the right thing with the wrong person.” It made sense then and it makes sense now. The hardest part was, I didn’t want to leave my daughters without me around. I dealt with this as an adult and it bothered me. I can’t believe how hurt they were growing up as young children. Now that they’re adults, we talk about it. And I can feel the hurt and the pain from their conversations of what they saw and what they thought of me as a Dad because of what their Mom was telling them. Which a lot of it wasn’t true at all. It was her trying to manipulate them to think I was this evil, bad guy.
Obviously, you Google your name and a lot comes up. So, there is more to it, is what you’re saying?
Green: Yes. There’s definitely a lot more to it. There’s a lot of job opportunities I didn’t get the chance to do because of that situation, and other situations similar to that because of what my daughters believed. As I told my co-worker, “as a pro athlete, an entertainer, someone who’s famous, when everybody knows you but you don’t know everybody, we are at a disadvantage.” So when we walk in the room, everybody knows who we are. When we walk into a room, we may know one person. Maybe none. So with everybody knowing who we are, the stereotypes are out there for us. That we’re full of ourselves. That we think we’re better than everybody. That we’re privileged. That we feel we can get away with things. The majority of us don’t think that way. For me, I’ll speak on myself, I just want to have a simple life. I just wanted to raise my kids, be successful at whatever I did, and grow and die. That’s what the majority of people on this planet want. When I meet people, I want to be treated how I would treat people.
When you look at 2000 to 2004, that window, that’s one of the best stretches in NFL history, at least in this generation, for a running back. It almost gets lost in time. How did things come together for you when the Packers trade Fred Vinson for Ahman Green and you finally get that opportunity? Your speed. Your power. There was a lot that we hadn’t seen at that point.
Green: It started in Seattle when Mike Holmgren came in. I was excited because I knew of Mike Holmgren. He was a Super Bowl-winning coach coming from Green Bay in ’96, a game that I watched in college. So, in 1999, he becomes our head coach. I knew the coaching tree he was from. He coached under Bill Walsh and George Seifert. He coached quarterbacks like Joe Montana, Steve Young. I grew up a 49ers fan living in California. Now, in 1999, I’m like, “Man, I’m getting a coach who was connected with the 49ers. Now, he’s bringing that offense to Seattle. The West Coast Offense.” It started off easy learning the playbook and then it got rough into preseason play because everything sped up faster. It was like me learning the option offense at Nebraska and then trying to unlearn that, to my first year in Seattle with Dennis Erickson who ran a number offense where a play was “978.” Then, I had to unlearn that to the West Coast which was a lot of words and numbers… “Fox 2 XY Hook.” It wasn’t easy but I eventually got it. At the same time, I’m trying to learn something new and keep my same skill as a running back at a high level. Now, being at the pro level, in my second year, it was tough. In the preseason, I had average games. I missed plays. I made mistakes on a few plays here and there. I know I fumbled the ball once or twice in preseason ball, just because my brain was processing everything at the same time.
I got through the season and re-proved myself to Coach Holmgren. But at the time, he mentioned that I’m a fumbler and I’m in his doghouse and that stuck with me more than anything else that he commented on as I grew as a young player. For me, it was water off of a duck’s back because I knew that the fumbling wasn’t a thing. But the mass media, that was always a talking point. I remember back then, and even through my career, I would get asked in Green Bay even in 2000 through 2004… the first question in any press conference is, “What’s your problem with the fumbling?” I’m like, “I don’t even know the last time I fumbled and I thought we were talking about this?” And it’s because that comment came from a Super Bowl-winning coach. Obviously he had a lot more respect than a second-year running back from Nebraska.
I get traded to Green Bay and a guy like Dorsey Levens welcomes me in like a teammate should. Like a brother. We still talk to this day. He helped me in my transition to Seattle. I was his backup and, unfortunately, he got hurt with an MCL but, in the back of my head, I never once thought now that he’s hurt, I’m the starter. I always thought I was his backup until he comes back or the coach makes the decision to say, “Ahman, you’re now the starter.” I just did my job until he returned and then Coach Sherman announced I’d be the starter the rest of the 2000 season which led into the ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04 run. Myself, my offensive linemen, my fullbacks, Brett at quarterback, Bubba Franks, Donald Driver, Javon Walker, Wesley Walls, Mike Wahle, Mike Flanagan, Mark Tauscher, Chad Clifton, Kevin Barry, all them guys, William Henderson were the reason why we had that production. Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher to add them in, too. Those guys were my rookie running backs that I made into my brothers. We’re still friends. That’s something I carried on with me because of what Dorsey did. LeRoy Butler, Gilbert, welcoming me into the locker room. It was all a team effort into that four- or five-year span.
How would you describe your running style? You were a big dude with your leg power but you had two 90-yard runs, too. You could go the distance as well.
Green: I was definitely stout from the waist down and I refer back to what I said as a child — that pain threshold. My brothers coaching me up. My stepdad coaching me up. And me finding that switch on my own and flipping it on as a young athlete to know this is football. It’s physical, and it’s going to be physical from the time the game starts to the time the game ends. I would have that conversation with myself every time before kickoff, like “Ahman, are you ready to play?” And, “Yeah, I’m ready to get hit for 3 ½ hours. Let’s go.” If you mentally say to yourself, “I can’t do this,” then your body won’t do it. But I put my mindset to myself, look, “I’m ready to do this for four hours if I need to. Let’s go.” That’s why I ran the way I did. That’s why it seemed like I became rejuvenated come the third and fourth quarter. I was not slowing down. I was actually speeding up. It was also the fact that the defenders were tired of trying to tackle me and trying to beat me up when I was beating them up.
What game comes to mind? What physical, old school game do you still treasure to this day from that run?
Green: Any of the games we played in our division. I remember going to Minneapolis, being beat up from the turf, on top of their linebackers who weighed 260. They had defensive backs who hit like linebackers, like Robert Griffith. To battle it out with them — if you go back and watch some of those films — it was a straight-up three yards and a cloud of dust. Smashmouth football. They were tough, brutal games but something mentally I was built for. And, physically, I built my body for the same thing. Because I knew if my body couldn’t withstand the hits, then my body wouldn’t last long. So, during the offseason and the regular season I maintained my strength. I recovered. I got a lot of sleep. I went to the chiropractor.
And I still cannot believe, on fourth and 1, that Mike Sherman doesn’t give you the ball. And you guys obviously get to the NFC Championship and win the Super Bowl that (2003) season, right?
Green: Yeah, that’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. That was the one and only moment I was not happy on-site with my head coach because I remember coming off the field and actually yelling at him that we should’ve went for it. It’s not a game where you’re hesitant. You go. I’d rather lose swinging than not swinging at all. I played baseball. The one thing I learned as a player that was also coached to me is if it’s a full count don’t go down watching the ball hit the catcher’s mitt. Swing at the ball.
In the moment, you were giving it to Mike?
Green: Yeah, yeah. I was telling him we needed to go for it. But the decision was already made by the time I got to the sideline so there wasn’t much I could do or say other than get my feelings out to him. I did. And then things went the way they went after that. It was another great learning experience. I was proud to go as far as we went that season.
You had 156 yards on 25 carries. Even Najeh Davenport was running hard that day. It was fourth and 1. Maybe even shorter than one.
Green: Yes, it was.
Fourth and 1 at Philly’s 41. So, you’re in their territory. Which you’d never see (a punt) today with analytics and everything.
Green: No, people are going for it for sure these days.
That season is the best in team history and one of the best in league history with you rushing for over 1,800 yards. How did it come together?
Green: Some of the stuff that happened behind the scenes for our running back group is, for one, that year we had Sylvester Croom and Edgar Bennett assisted with coaching us. An idea Edgar had for us, as well Coach Sly, we started meeting with the linemen. We went into the linemen meeting room and were actually watching our practices and game film with them. So that interaction took my game to a whole new level because we could actually talk to the people who worked with us face-to-face and say, “On this inside-zone, this is what I’m doing with my footwork to help you get to your blocks, and once I see your back flat or your back turn to the sideline or if I see it turn to the opposite sideline, I’m going to go this way or do that.” That right there, we got each other from the running back group to the linemen group. I’m like, “This needs to be done at every level.” Then when we get to the game field, they know “Ahman’s in the backfield. We’re running 96 Power. If I do this with my body, then Ahman’s going to go this way so I’ll make sure I do this. He’s going to be there because he sees this. He told me this in meetings.” And then, boom. We had that communication off the field to where we didn’t need communication on the field. That was the secret sauce for that season… the conversations we had Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday before kickoff. We had five days of communication. So for three hours, we didn’t have to talk.
You’ve got to have a best Brett Favre story, too. He played through some insane injuries then with the thumb and there was that Giants game where he gets concussed, misses a play and he’s back out there (to throw a touchdown). Obviously, the Raiders game trumps them all. Is there something that comes to mind for you?
Green: The New York Giants game, the ’04 season, I saw the play where his helmet hit the ground and we knew he was out. We’re like, “OK, Doug Pederson is about to come in.” So Doug does come in for a play and Brett’s right back in. I was one of the people who said to him, “Are you OK? Should you be out here?” He’s looking at me like, “AG, I’m good. I’m good.” After the game, one of the trainers came up to me and said, “Ahman, we were trying to take his helmet but he kept it.” When a guy gets concussed, the trainers take a player’s helmet because for us, back then, we would not come out. We should not be in the game. He knew that. So he was conscious enough to keep his helmet in his hand so they couldn’t keep him from running on the field, which is what he did. He kept his helmet with him and he ran on the field when the next play was up. He got the smelling salts in his nose and said, “I’m going back in. I got my helmet.”
The Raiders game, Monday Night Football, his Dad, Irv, passes away. For us, football was irrelevant for that reason. And we had to play a game. It was Sunday night when we found out. We had an emergency team meeting. … Right away, I was thinking of nothing but supporting my teammate and doing whatever I can do. I told him that: “Brett, whatever you need me to do, for tomorrow, I got your back. If you decide not to play this game, I support you.” He said, “Ahman, don’t worry about that. I’m playing.” I said, “OK, just let me know what I need to do on that football field tomorrow. I’ll do that, plus more.” Every player felt the same way. Everybody played their hearts out. Win or lose, we played that game to support him. If you watch that game, we did. He did what he knew his father would have him do. He played the way his Dad would want him to play football: You’re not going to come off that field unless you have a broke limb. I remember Brett said that several times on how his Dad raised him to play football. He’d say, “Son, you play that game until something’s broke. And you have to get carried off that field.” He basically did that. To me, I was very fortunate to be a part of record-setting, amazing game.
That’s what I love about football. People say it’s the ultimate team sport, and I believe it is. There are other team sports out there but with the physicality and things we go through, as men who play this game, it says a lot to our human side of ourselves to get through the physical and mental side of the game to get through what we did.
Is there any pain you played through? Physical, emotional? Like you started here, you went through some stuff when you were 2 and 5 years old. I’d hope you’re feeling good today but you did play a very violent position.
Green: Physically, I’m good. I was the hammer, not the nail. That was my gameplan, especially when I got to college. I said, “I’m going to hit the weights hard.” I figured I’d at least have my body in shape to play this physical game. Being at Nebraska, it was a great weightlifting program to have the tools to get stronger and it carried on. I mastered the knowledge of how to prepare my body mentally and physically to play the game of football.
Taking on the “Batman” persona, too.
Green: That was funny how that happened. I got into Batman when I was 12 years old, once the movie came out with Tim Burton directing, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Robert Wall, all those actors. You had the soundtrack that was outstanding. It was a movie that stuck in my head. The crazy thing about it is as a kid I knew he wasn’t a superhero. He’s in the same sentence as Superman and Wonder Woman and all those folks, but he’s not super. He’s a human being. Obviously, he has a ton of money. But he fought crime because of the tragedy that happened to his Mom and Dad. That was his motivation to make sure crime would not happen to other people. For him, to have that passion, not the “power.” He wasn’t from Planet Krypton and wasn’t from Themyscira Island and he wasn’t part of the Amazonian culture or bloodline — he was human. So, he made sure his body was physically and mentally ready to do what he needed to do to fight crime. That’s how I relayed it to myself, to make sure my body was ready to play football. It was not going to be easy a lot of days and I was going to get my butt kicked but the butt-kicking, I wanted to make sure I was doing a lot of that. Not receiving it.
On the Esports, I’m a Novice. I don’t think I’ve played a video game in at least 12 years. In Layman’s terms, how have you helped this all explode and what exactly do you do?
Green: Oh, what I do first is I’m the head coach of Esports at Lakeland University, a Division III school in Sheboygan, Wisc. I manage and coach players that play Call of Duty, Rocket League, Overwatch, League of Legends, Madden, FIFA, Super Smash Brothers, Brawlhalla and Valorant. What I love is the team dynamic of all those games because the majority of the games I mentioned are team-based games. So, it’s teaching these young adults at Lakeland the fact of understanding the team dynamic. How to have great communication. How to take criticism. It’s constructive criticism. It’s not to tear you down, it’s to build you up. But understand the difference. Usually, when you criticize most people want to take the negative connotation of it. They want to think you’re personally attacking them when you’re not. You’re trying to help them learn from their mistake and get better.
Also, teaching those other teammates that when I’m criticizing them, there’s a certain tone in my voice. I’m not yelling at them. I’m giving them a tone of understanding of “OK, he’s not mad at me. He’s not berating me. He’s actually helping me.” So, they understand that. And once they understand that, they can listen a lot better. They can take in the criticism. They can take notes, write it down, and get better.
Esports is so new that there are little leagues now for Esports. … Kids are starting to get that training of “This is how you play Fortnight,” on a team together. Overwatch, on a team together. You manage being on that team. You show up on time. You study your mechanics. You study your strategy. You talk to your coaches. You talk to your teammates to make sure everybody has the gameplan to win.
It’s wild that you can get those values out of a video game. I would think a four-time Pro Bowl running back would say, “Get off the damn sticks. Go cut the grass. Get outside.” You’re seeing the good in this all. Gaming is here to stay.
Green: It is. The part of Esports that relates to traditional sports is the competitiveness. Because the same reason people play football, basketball, baseball, track, hockey, Olympic stuff is because of the competition. It’s just an electronic world, a virtual world that you’re competing in. The competition is just as intense if not more in the Esports world.
This is a pretty AJ Dillon-friendly website. Any thoughts on the latest back bashing through people?
Green: I’m loving it. I’m loving his development right now. AJ is understanding his tools. He’s understanding he has a toolbox and part of that toolbox is his size and his weight and what he can bring to the game. He can bring an intimidation factor to defensive players. Especially, linebackers and defensive backs to the point where they have to make business decisions before they tackle him. They have to think about, “I want to do this? I don’t want to do it. I have to tackle this guy who’s 250, and that’s something I don’t really want to do right now.” You saw it last week. He dropped his shoulder pads and ran over DBs. He ran over linebackers and defensive linemen to pick up first downs and get short-yardage conversions.
You probably see a little bit of yourself in him, too, even though you had more breakaway speed.
Green: I had a little more speed than him but that’s OK. He makes up for it with the 25 more pounds he weighs than me running the rock. He does an excellent job catching the ball out of the backfield and picking up blitzes. He’s square in the hole. He drops his hips. That’s where Aaron Jones is sometimes at a disadvantage because of his body weight. He gets in there. He gets grimy. He gets into a fight in the middle of the A gap or B gap. You need your running backs to have that mentality to go in there and set the block for my quarterback.
Coming tomorrow for “Old School Week:” Why Wyatt Teller is the man-beast the NFL needs and our exclusive Zoom Happy Hour with longtime Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood.