- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

Even Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green can't outrun the calendar. Green, an expected shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, will announce in coming days his retirement following his team-record 19th season.

According to sources close to Green, the cornerback wants to use a farewell tour as a fundraiser for the Youth Life Foundation that helps troubled children through educational centers. Green expanded the District-based foundation to several states earlier this year and a fundraising tour in coming months could possibly net $10 million.

Green couldn't be reached for comment yesterday. However, sources close to Green said the cornerback is ready to move on to "his life's work."

"Darrell still feels he can compete at the NFL level," said a source, "but this lets him leave on his own terms. He knows he can contribute on the field, but announcing his retirement now is part of a long-term strategy to maximize the financial backing of the foundation."

Green, 41, is still vying for a starting role over rookie Fred Smoot. Coach Marty Schottenheimer said the decision will be made by Tuesday. However, the outcome has no influence on Green's decision. Green considered revealing his plan shortly before training camp's July 29 opening but decided it would be a distraction as he tried to regain his starting job.

Green has started a team-record 250 of 263 games since he was drafted in the first round in 1983. He was benched last season for the first time when the Redskins signed cornerback Deion Sanders, who retired in July. Green played nearly 40 percent of the defensive snaps last year, but underwent an increased conditioning program during the offseason in hopes of returning to the starting lineup. Green rested in fewer training camp practices than he had last year.

Chafing over recent questions on whether he has outperformed Smoot, Green clearly has been challenged by Schottenheimer's new system which seeks a more disciplined approach when playing farther off the line of scrimmage. Green, four times the NFL's Fastest Man winner, long has relied more on his speed and instinct than a systematic approach. After playing for three defensive coordinators in the past three seasons, Green has tired of newcomers trying to change him.

After all, the seven-time Pro Bowler holds a gaggle of NFL and team marks. Green has intercepted at least one pass in a record 18 straight seasons and was the oldest cornerback (37) ever to return one for a touchdown. His 53 interceptions off 41 quarterbacks are tied for third among active players. His six interception returns for touchdowns are a team record.

But Green's 19 seasons as a Redskin are what made him a Washington sports icon. He'll join Jim Marshall (Minnesota) and Bruce Matthews (Tennessee) as second only to Jackie Slater (Los Angeles-St. Louis) for most seasons (21) with one team. Green will rank seventh in career seasons.

"I haven't been here just because I'm the best player or the fastest or the most handsome guy around," Green said on July 30. "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."

Green created the Youth Life Foundation in 1988 and opened his first center in 1993. He was named NFL Man of the Year and received the Bart Starr and Ken Houston humanitarian awards in 1996. Green recently said he would prefer his legacy come from the educational centers than football achievements.

"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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