Hail to the Green ... or Greenes


(Photos courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and to honor the Irish we wear green.

Except not here we don’t. To honor the Irish, we honor the green, and by that I mean everything green – from Green Bay to green jerseys to greenbacks to anyone with Green … or Greene … as last names. Anyway, I think you get the idea. We’re here to celebrate the Few, the Proud, the Green, with a countdown of 10 of our favorites.

So sound the bagpipes, and let the roll call begin:

10. Chip Kelly. He’s the modern-day equivalent of Jimmy Johnson, unafraid to make a move and always willing to listen to the next offer. So he trades away LeSean McCoy. He gains Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray in return. I’ll take that. Critics say he doesn’t have a plan, but I find him refreshing. Reason: He’s shaking up a league not accustomed to taking risks.

9. Ndamukong Suh’s contract. There are 60 million reasons to like the green in this deal, and they’re all guaranteed, no questions asked. Only now comes the tough part: Living up to the contract.

8. Kevin Greene. He has more sacks than everyone in NFL history but Bruce Smith and Reggie White. They’re in the Hall of Fame. Greene is not, and what’s wrong with this picture? Greene doesn’t know, either, but here’s what I like: He’s not whining about it. He knows he has no choice but to sit and wait. He also must know his time is coming, and hallelujah.

7.Darrell Green. I remember then-general manager Bobby Beathard saying one thing he liked about the 1983 draft was that he didn’t have to answer why he passed on Dan Marino. That’s because Washington drafted one spot behind Miami. The other, of course, is that with the 28th pick, the Redskins chose Green, and if there’s one guy you want defending Marino it might be “the Ageless Wonder” – a guy who went on to produce 19 seasons with at least one interception in each.

6. Million Dollar Backfield. No, it’s not the 1947 Chicago Cardinals I’m talking about. It’s the backfield of the 1954 San Francisco 49ers, one that produced four Hall of Famers – Joe Perry, Hugh McIlhenny, John Henry Johnson and Y.A. Tittle. It’s the only full-house backfield to have all its members enshrined in Canton, and, yep, I call that the money shot.

5. Brett Favre. Admit it. There are few quarterbacks you’d rather watch. He took chances others wouldn’t. He made throws others wouldn’t. He made mistakes others wouldn’t. And he played when others wouldn’t. Yeah, OK, so he was flawed. But that made him more real; someone you could care about. Because, in the end, he exuded the enthusiasm and unbridled joy others could – or would – not, and that made it easy to root for the guy.

4. Joe Namath. This is all you need to know about Broadway Joe: Nearly 40 years after he left the Jets for L.A. the club is still looking for his successor. That’s not unusual. It’s downright unimaginable. I mean, after Unitas, there was Jones, Manning and Luck. After Montana, Steve Young. After Starr, Favre and Rodgers. But after Namath? Zippity-do-dah. No wonder Firearm Ed gave up on Gang Green.

3. Reggie White. It’s not just that the guy was a Hall of Famer. It’s that he played for Green Bay AND Philadelphia. So his name was White. He’ll always be associated with Green … including that four-year, $17 million contract he signed that in 1993 made him the richest defensive player in NFL history. Maybe God did tell him to go to Green Bay. But so did Reggie’s banker.

2. Mean Joe Greene. When Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney joined our show last year, we asked him which player was the most instrumental in making the Steelers the Team of the 70s. His answer: Joe Greene. An eight-time All-Pro, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team, Greene could do everything – including sell Cokes. His 1979 “Hey, kid. Catch!” Coca-Cola commercial won a Clio and proved that maybe Charles Edward Greene wasn’t so Mean after all.

1. Vince Lombardi. I don’t know if he was the greatest coach ever. I just know he turned Green Bay into Titletown, won five league championships in seven years (including the first two Super Bowls) and was so good at what he did they named the Super Bowl trophy, schools in Green Bay and Brooklyn and a street in Green Bay after him … as well as stage a Broadway play about him, put his face on a U.S. postage stamp, erect a 14-foot statue of him outside Lambeau Field and induct him into the Knights of Malta at – where else – St Patrick’s.