- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green was one of the first to reach Biddle Field yesterday. After all, he didn't want to be late for his homecoming.
The Redskins returned to Dickinson College after a seven-year absence, but Green remembered the small eastern Pennsylvania college as the place he opened his career in 1983. He is the only current Redskin who practiced in Carlisle during its first 31-year stint as the team's summer home, making it only fitting that his probable farewell tour began here, too.
Green took a different path to the field from the dorms and changed in a new locker room from in the past, but there were plenty of reminders of the days of coach Joe Gibbs and the three Super Bowl championship seasons that originated at Biddle. There were greetings from locals as he walked by their homes and a reunion with "Lucy," who worked at the college. Green even stopped in front of Massey's ice cream parlor, which was favored by coach George Allen.
"This is incredible," Green said. "This is like home. Just being familiar with something makes you more comfortable. A lot of great memories. In our days, all the great championships came through here."
And great careers. Green has started 250 of 263 games in 18 seasons all team records. Indeed, his single-team tenure is the third longest in NFL history. Green has caught at least one interception in an NFL-record 18 straight seasons, reached seven Pro Bowls, was named NFL Man of the Year and received two humanitarian awards.
But turning 41 years old over the offseason made Green reflect, especially because his newest teammates weren't born until after he graduated high school. Few, if any, of them can outrun the three-time NFL's Fastest Man.
"I'm competing against guys in their early 20s, and I'm in my early whatevers," Green said. "It's neat. There are no other guys [from my early days]. Everyone else is at home. It's a great honor to put myself in this position."
Green figures to beat the calendar. He wasn't just joking around in practice yesterday when he returned punts for the first time since the 1987 playoffs. His 52-yard touchdown return helped beat Chicago 21-17 in an eventual Super Bowl championship season. The Redskins are considering several players to replace the departed James Thrash with Green a serious candidate.
"It's like bringing me back to what I used to do," Green said. "I'm not just out there. I was pretty successful at it. Nothing's changed. If I can help the team be successful I'll be there."
And by the way, Green is the front-runner to regain the starting job that was given to Deion Sanders last season. Sanders retired Friday, and Green is eager to keep Donovan Greer out of the lineup. If this is his last season and Green won't say until near the end then he doesn't want to remain a role player. Green even worked out in Houston last month with former teammate Vernon Dean to gain an edge.
"I was a kid coming in, wild-eyed, and I didn't know anything about this business. Now I know everything about this business, and you approach it in a different way," he said. "I haven't been here just because I'm the best player or the fastest or the most handsome guy around. You know a team can get rid of a player if he's a star. It's not about that. I see it as God's sovereign hand over the years to say I want my boy in Washington D.C., and I just participated with that."
Coach Marty Schottenheimer is mindful of Green's meaning to the team and fans. However, he's not fearful of starting the man who became the oldest player to score on an interception return four years ago.
"I don't even think about his age. He will not be evaluated on the basis of his age," Schottenheimer said. "He's not guaranteed a starting spot, [but] I have not seen any evidence at this point that he's not capable of what we want him to do. I don't know if he'll be the punt returner, but I want him to be available."
A good year may cause Green to stay another. A bad year will bring his retirement. Either way, Green is expanding his Youth Life Foundation, which provides education and career training for children. He opened centers in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and the District earlier this year and plans for more in Oklahoma and Texas.
It's those classrooms Green wants to be best remembered. Football is only a game to him, but helping children is everything.
"The latter day should be greater than the former days in terms of Darrell Green the man and the impact on human lives," he said. "But in the meantime it's, 'Oh, by the way, I'm a football player.' There's a goal behind it."

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