Kind of incredible that Darrel Green only played one year of football in high school, walked on at Texas A&I and became a first round draft pick and is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
CANTON’S CLASS OF 2008
Ultimate kudos for corners
By JOHN McCLAIN Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 2, 2008, 12:29AM
Former cornerbacks Darrell Green and Emmitt Thomas should provide inspiration for every athlete who is told he’s not good enough to play the sport he loves.
Green, who grew up in Houston, walked on at Texas A&I in Kingsville.
Thomas, who grew up in Angleton, walked on at Bishop College in Dallas.
Today, Green and Thomas are part of the Class of 2008 that will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Being enshrined with the greatest players in history, including Art Monk, Gary Zimmerman, Andre Tippett and Fred Dean, is extra special for Green for two reasons. Thomas was his position coach at Washington for eight years, and Monk was his teammate with the Redskins for 13 years.
“It’s ironic because (Thomas) coached Art first before he transferred over to defense and coached me,” said Green, who’ll be presented at the ceremony on national television by his son, Jared. “When we first sat down, I said, ‘Coach, what are you going to do about me?’
“He said, ‘Nothing. Just do what you’ve been doing.’ So he brought to me an appreciation and knowledge of what I was doing. He told me I was doing what I needed to do because I know what it takes at that position.”
Thomas knew what it took to play the position because he played corner for 13 years with Kansas City, including two Super Bowls. He has been an assistant coach for 26 years, including his current job as defensive coordinator at Atlanta.
Thomas played a role in helping Green play 20 years — not bad for a player who played varsity football one year at Jones High School and worked hard enough to get the Redskins to select him in the first round of the 1983 draft.
Looked like a long shot
“There’s never been a cornerback like Darrell,” said former Texans general manager Charley Casserly, who was Washington’s assistant general manager at the time. “I mean, you can go to the Galleria, and just about everybody’s 5-8, 165, but Darrell played at a high level for 20 years.
“Before we drafted Darrell, there was some discussion, just like there is with every pick, but (general manager) Bobby (Beathard) never wavered.”
Green intercepted 54 passes, made the Pro Bowl seven times and won the NFL’s fastest-man competition four times.
“The thing that stands out to me is speed,” Casserly said. “Darrell was so explosive. He was at one level, and everybody else was at another level.
“We almost always put him on the opponent’s best wide receiver. That meant he covered some great ones in his career. I take a lot of pride in seeing Darrell and Art going in together. ”
Dan Riley, who is the Texans’ strength and rehabilitation coach, had the same position with the Redskins when Green was drafted.
“When Darrell came in for the first time,” Riley said, “I looked at him and told him, ‘You’re going to get killed.’ He told me he was going to play for a long time, and he was right.
“Darrell played with a lot of pride. He always took great care of himself. He didn’t drink or smoke. He was gifted genetically, but he never got out of shape.”
“He wasn’t just a teammate of mine; he’s a great friend, too,” Monk said . “Our families are like real family. His kids call me uncle. My kids called him uncle. We do things together. This makes it just that much more of a special event for us.”
A family thing
Green has family and friends coming from Houston and the Washington area, where he continues to reside.
Thomas, who intercepted 58 passes, had 50 family members and friends make the drive from Angleton to Canton on a bus.
“That means so much to me,” he said “You know, I only played one year of high school football.”
Thomas will be presented by his son, Derrick.
“After high school, I was going to play college ball at Tuskegee, but a cousin and I didn’t like it when we visited,” Thomas said. “Bishop College had been in Marshall, and it had moved to Dallas, so I walked on there the first year the school was in Dallas.”
So two of the greatest defensive backs in history played one year of high school football before they walked on to their college teams, and now both are receiving the greatest honor possible.
If that’s not inspiration for young players , nothing is.
Green wishes his parents, Leonard and Gloria Green, were still alive to witness his induction. He’s pretty sure he’s going to break down when he starts talking about them in his induction speech.
“My dad was actually a lab technician for Maxwell House Coffee, and he taught us (seven children) the value of hard work,” Green said. “We obeyed them and respected them and saw them set examples.
“We learned a lot from my parents, and it carried over to my success. Our Christian faith helped us keep things in perspective all the time.”