- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2001

The voice of Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green never quivered. The words never stopped flowing and his eyes weren't misty.

The 41-year-old Green began his farewell tour yesterday planning for the future. The expected Hall of Famer will retire after a team-record 19th season to run his Youth Life Foundation, an organization that helps at-risk children. He wants to expand the District charitable center to another dozen states in the coming years.

Sometimes sounding more like a fundraising telethon than a farewell address, Green had more anticipation than regret in his voice. Even the discovery that he'll remain a backup to rookie Fred Smoot didn't dampen his outlook.

Green paraphrased Saturday Night Live character Chico Escuela when saying, "Football has been berry, berry good to me." He turned reflective when noting the NFL is "a kid's game we used to play touch on the cement, tackle on the grass."

"This is an exciting time. No crying or tears. Come on, I played a couple of other guy's careers," he said. "I'm not being run out of the league. I'm still a part of a vibrant effort to win a championship. I can play 20 years. I can play 22. But you know what? My time is now. And the great thing is I get to play this year."

Green, who is the last connection to coach Joe Gibbs' 11-year tenure that ended in 1993, wore one of two Super Bowl rings to the podium yesterday. The fact that the cornerback, who joined the Redskins one year after Gibbs' first title in 1982, is the last person remaining from one of the Redskins' greatest eras made it a somber event for some of Green's old friends.

Former teammates Art Monk, Tim Johnson, Charles Mann, Ken Harvey and Darryl Pounds plus coach Richie Petitbon watched from the packed auditorium at Redskin Park. Current teammates defensive end Bruce Smith and linebacker LaVar Arrington also were there.

"He's the Last of the Mohicans. It's a sad occasion," Monk said.

Petitbon remembered thinking Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard blew another first-round pick when the undersized rookie reported. And then Petitbon saw Green run. There was never any doubt afterward.

"I don't think anybody has had an impact on winning and losing as much as Darrell has," said Petitbon, who returned to Redskin Park for the first time since his 1993 dismissal. "He enabled us to take the opponent's No. 1 receiver out of the game by himself. I don't see how you get around the longevity. People don't realize how hard it is to play cornerback, and to do it for as many years as he has, he's a tribute to clean living."

Said former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly: "He was the point man of coverages for years. You put him on anybody in football. He did it in 1998 when he shut down [Minnesota receiver] Randy Moss at age 38. If Darrell had been a punt returner, he would have made it to the Hall as one too. He was the best [returner] I saw in 25 years."

Vice president Bobby Mitchell recalled some "teddy bear … 5-foot nothing, 120 pounds" with a squeaky voice offering to race the Hall of Famer who was once the team's fastest player some 20 years earlier. Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer remembered thinking Green was too small when meeting him before the 1983 draft. Now Schottenheimer marvels at how well Green played ever since.

"It goes beyond just beyond the performance level," Schottenheimer said. "Darrell set a standard very early in his career and, in my opinion, he has never missed a beat."

Green spoke of being a "hero" to his own three children. His wife Jewell looked ahead to summer vacations instead of training camp and Darrell helping their kids with homework. Certainly, retirement won't be leisurely.

"One great blessing in life is to know exactly what you like to do," Schottenheimer said. "Darrell is blessed… . I admire that."


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