Becoming a head coach never occurred to former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green. The Pro Football Hall of Famer has been too busy shaping young lives through his charitable endeavors.
But when he was presented with an opportunity to spend a week educating NFL prospects, Green leapt at the chance. He’ll coach the American Team in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl, which will be played Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
“They chose me for my leadership and character,” Green said. “I know the Xs and Os, but what we’re trying to accomplish is to elevate the man inside the player. It’s a real baptism into the National Football League.”
Green has spent three decades helping children with his Youth Life Foundation with after-school educational centers spanning from Washington and Richmond, Va., to Tennessee and North Carolina.
The two-time Super Bowl champion has long considered being a role model as a serious job. When children would scream “Darrell” for his autograph, he taught them manners by requiring them to call him, “Mr. Green.”
As a head coach, Green is most concerned with preparing players to meet with general managers and scouts. Last year, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl sent 35 players to the NFL Combine.
Former Redskins teammates Brian Mitchell and LaVar Arrington are on Green’s staff as the special teams and linebacker coaches. Former Rams coach Mike Martz leads the National Team.
You probably won’t see Green throwing a clipboard in frustration. He expects his calm demeanor as a player to carry over into coaching. Green said he’ll model his coaching style after former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and ex-defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon.
“I’m probably a good combination of both,” he said, citing his ability “to understand personalities” and the technical knowledge to make halftime adjustments.
Asked if a taste of coaching could lead him to leave his job as associate athletic director at George Mason, Green said that’s not his intention.
“I didn’t take this to be a steppingstone,” he said, “but I don’t know. I know more about character and men than I do about Xs and Os, but … you never know.”
Meanwhile, Green is happy mentoring athletes at George Mason while working with athletic director Brad Edwards, who played with Green in the Redskins’ secondary.
“I try to show the value of our students to the community,” Green said. “I didn’t get a degree there, but I feel like I went to school there. I felt like I was a student.”
And the former pro once known as the NFL’s fastest man has no intent of slowing down. Green was clocked at 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash as a rookie and claimed to run a 4.43 at age 50. Now 57, he said his goal is to run a 4.5-second 40 when he turns 60.
“I’m also embarrassed to say that,” he said, “but that would be a sober goal.”