- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2001

The Washington Redskins' Darrell Green hasn't slowed down a bit, especially as retirement approaches. Green ran from the media yesterday, evading questions about whether this will be his final season.

Green is expected to announce his retirement Tuesday, according to sources close to him. Yesterday, he wouldn't comment directly on reports that he told team officials of his plan to quit at the end of this season a team-record 19th.

"I don't know anything about that," Green said. "I was very surprised. I enjoyed watching it on the news. SportsTalk [radio] may have mentioned it, and I would say I'm under contract with them and I didn't even tell them."

Green wants to spend the final months of a farewell tour fund raising for his Youth Life Foundation that educates at-risk children through learning centers. Sources close to Green say he hopes to raise $10 million to fund the nationally expanding centers that opened in several states earlier this year.

The 13-year program has been credited with helping many youngsters avoid negative lifestyles. Green has often spoke of the centers being more important than his career. Indeed, he hopes to be remembered more for the Youth Life Foundation than for his football accomplishments.

"He's a person you hold in the highest regards," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "You think of him not only as part of the Redskins but of the whole Washington, Maryland and Virginia community."

Green, a first-round draft pick in 1983, is considered a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. At the end of the season, the 41-year-old will rank seventh in career years among NFL players and tied for second for the longest stretch with one team. Teammates and coach Marty Schottenheimer have been more impressed with his consistently high level of play over his latter years than they are with any particular standout plays.

"To have done it at such a high quality of performance is the dramatic thing," Schottenheimer said. "I think man-to-man coverage, a guy who had the speed [but] more than just the speed, the understanding of how to play it. I think he played it in a style unlike others but obviously an extremely good player and a guy that when the time comes and the eligibility is fulfilled he's in Canton."

A four-time NFL Fastest Man winner, Green lost his starting job to cornerback Deion Sanders last season. He is expected to back up rookie Fred Smoot when Schottenheimer announces the starters Tuesday.

"I know we're counting on him this year," Schottenheimer said.

Players know Green's skills haven't greatly deteriorated and that he can still make big contributions in nickel packages. Last year as a reserve, Green played nearly 40 percent of the snaps.

"The last couple years I didn't know what to expect," cornerback Champ Bailey. "You would think he would start winding down, but he starts winding it up."

Green has been a mentor to many players during his career, teaching them how to read quarterbacks as well as how to read people. A devout Christian, Green often talks to young players about being role models.

"He taught me everything I know from how to play, study, live life off the field," Bailey said.

Said Smoot: "Point blank: a mentor. His first conversation with me was not about football but life. He's introducing me to be a man, how to be somebody besides a football player."

Added linebacker Shawn Barber: "If he can do half as good a job with Fred Smoot as he did with Champ, our corners will be [solid] for many years to come."

Smoot is still hopeful of learning from Green over the remaining months. The gregarious rookie believes he can be a rightful successor to Green's legacy.

"I have time [still] to soak it in," Smoot said. "I hope I can meet him in the Hall of Fame."


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