Sometimes in life you need more than an initial chance to reach your full potential. For various reasons, some incomprehendable in an individuals background; there’s an underlying reason for why things do not workout. Some have faith that ‘everything happens for a reason’.
For the former troubled running back of the Cleveland Browns, the 17th overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Boston College, things never came to the fruition of what they should have with his first stint in the NFL. That said, William Green has his mind set on a return to the NFL.
“I wasn’t prepared to play in the NFL the first time around,” Green said. Both he and his wife say he doesn’t have to play. He invested wisely enough and still has real estate holdings in New Jersey.
“We can live comfortably on what we have, that’s not it,” said Asia, who is raising five children with Green. “William was smart with his money. He’s not desperate to get back in the NFL.”
Green is famously known throughout Cleveland as single-handedly carrying an underdog Cleveland Browns team to the playoffs down the stretch run that saw the Browns go 6-2 during the 2002 season. During five of those games, the rookie Green ran for over 100 yards, including his pinnacle of his career which was a 78-yard touchdown run that clinched a season ending win at Cleveland Browns stadium against the heavily favored Atlanta Falcons (with then a very good Mike Vick under center).
Fans remember the famous on-air call of Jim Donovan as William Green broke away from several Falcons tacklers in the Atlanta secondary. “RUN WILLIAM! RUN!” as Green galloped into the end zone and put the Browns into the playoffs. I am told by those who were at the stadium live that day that this was the loudest that the new Cleveland Browns stadium has ever been.
From there, it was all downhill for Green who came from a troubled past. Many Browns fans wanted Green to make a great start in the NFL because he came from an upbringing where both parents died of AIDS during his childhood. Green struggled with Marijuana and was subject to the substance abuse policy during the 2003 season, marking the beginning of the end of his NFL career.
“I feel fast, I feel quick, I feel strong. My body feels phenomenal. Most important, I’m confident again and my head is in a good place,” Green said. “When I was with the Browns, I didn’t know how to be focused on what I was supposed to do … For so long when I was a kid and I was going through so many problems, I just kept thinking, ‘I’ll be in the NFL one day.’
“I thought being in the NFL would make me happy but it didn’t. I got to the NFL and I didn’t make better decisions. I didn’t find the kind of life I really wanted. Instead, I was more focused on going out and partying, not on what I had to do to be successful.”
Since his first exit from the NFL, Green has found Christ and became a family man, saying his days of chasing women and partying with substances are long gone.
“When you think you have arrived at the answer, it sometimes takes awhile to figure out that you don’t have a real answer. That’s the hardest part, when you work your way through and then discover that this, making the NFL, isn’t the answer,” he said. “I’m at peace with myself now. I come home and my kids are waiting for me and they love me. That’s what I wanted. That’s what I didn’t have when I was a kid.”
I was a huge fan of William Green when he was with the Browns and I still hope he catches on and gets his shot to do great things with another NFL franchise. Like Tim Couch before him, he showed flashes of brilliance but because of perhaps the circumstances or wrong situations, he failed to capitalize on opportunities to become a star in Cleveland.
Green’s answering machine says it best: “All things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose”.