After NFL Europe, Green hopes to latch on in Denver
Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2003
LORMAN &045; When the news came that the Baltimore Ravens no longer needed his services, Louis Green could have spiraled off into a state of depression.
Let’s face it: getting cut is never easy, and it doesn’t matter if it’s NFL or junior high. And here was Green, the former Alcorn State and Jefferson County standout, walking out of training camp last August with an idea of what he did wrong and what he had done right up until that point &045; no NFL job but a college degree.
He returned to Alcorn, landed a job there as academic advisor and kept working for another shot. Then back earlier in the year his cell phone rang.
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It was the Denver Broncos.
He signed, accepted an offer to play for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe and now heads into camp polished, wiser and confident of what he needs to do.
Green and the rest of the Broncos open camp Friday.
&uot;It was a learning experience for me,&uot; said Green, who went undrafted after his senior season at ASU in 2001. &uot;At the time I was very hurt. But when I look back on it, it was a learning experience for me. I’m trying to not make the same mistakes as I did there. When you get to the NFL, it’s a business. It’s just like a job. Hopefully everything will work out this time.&uot;
He feels better the second time around, and credit much of that to a productive spring in Amsterdam as the team’s starting outside linebacker and his roles on special teams. The fit, too, may be better since the Ravens are plenty more stable on defense than the Broncos.
Europe, it’s worth noting, has been the start of several players who currently hold starting jobs in the NFL.
&uot;I think really it’s about opportunity,&uot; said Admirals defensive coordinator Larry Owens, whose regular job is head coach at the College of San Mateo (Calif.). &uot;I think the best thing about Louis is he knows what he can do. He’s got great straight-forward speed. The biggest thing is guys have to make it through special teams. They’re looking for guys to start on special teams. If he can do that, I think it’ll benefit him big time.&uot;
Welcome to Amsterdam
Green really didn’t hesitate to answer the question from the Denver coaches of whether he would accept the offer to play in NFL Europe. The league’s purpose is development, and a player of his caliber with potential is worth the investment to play the 10-week schedule in preparation for the big league.
Here was Green, in his second year of pro ball from a school in rural southwest Mississippi smack in the middle of a foreign country where everyone &045; even his new teammates and coaches &045; were strangers.
&uot;He was very quiet,&uot; Owens said. &uot;I think he loosened up after a while. We had a real good group of guys, and he opened up a lot more as he went. It’s definitely an adjustment living in a foreign country for three months and all your family and what you have is over there. It’s definitely difficult because you’re in a foreign country. But it’s always nice when you’re around good guys.&uot;
And of all places to wind up in Europe, Green landed in Amsterdam &045; where soccer is the sport, lamb is a delicacy and the weather is just plain bizarre.
&uot;A lot of lamb &045; lamb, lamb, lamb,&uot; Green said. &uot;I look at lamb totally different now. You know how we have steak? That’s lamb to them. You know how people raise chickens in the country? People raise lamb like that. They have a lot of rainfall, and it hailed on us in practice once &045; golf-ball-sized hail.
&uot;When I first got there, they were real shy about us being there. Everyone is kicking a soccer ball. They look at American football as being real violent.&uot;
When the Admirals got out their own football, that’s when Green and the others started to shine. He played in all 10 games &045; the defense was decimated by injuries &045; and finished tied for second on the team in tackles (31), the team leader in sacks (10) and tied for third in forced fumbles (five) while lining up on kickoffs and punts.
He went down in the last game of the season &045; a 31-14 loss to the Scottish Claymores &045; with back spasms but is over it now.
&uot;I think everything went well,&uot; Owens said. &uot;We were real impressed with him when we watched film on him during the draft. I got a good recommendation on him by (Ravens coordinator) Mike Nolan. Mike had a lot of good things to say about him. I think he did a real good job on special teams. He made some big plays.&uot;
Some of the linemen went down with injuries midway through after the Admirals started 2-2, and things just got worse. The team lost three of their next four &045; yielding 30 points or more in the three losses and 24 in the win &045; before losing the next game 31-20 to the Claymores and taking a 51-43 win over Berlin.
With the injuries, the Admirals did the best they could.
&uot;When you’re in NFL Europe, you don’t have a lot of players,&uot; Green said. &uot;You may have guys on your practice squad. We got a guy from Barcelona. Football is a rough game, and when you’re playing you’re all out. One thing I can say about going to Europe &045; it was a nice experience, and I made a lot of new friends.&uot;
Life in the NFL
Green can take this positive from his time in the Ravens’ camp: Ray Lewis is definitely someone to use as a mentor. The All-Pro linebacker is one of the NFL’s best and certainly someone a young, ambitious linebacker can watch and take a few mental notes.
&uot;Ray Lewis is an animal,&uot; Green said. &uot;He practices so hard. He works so hard he almost works himself to exhaustion. He loves the game of football. He studies game films religiously.&uot;
There are no superstar linebackers in the Broncos’ camp this fall, but nine will compete for jobs as camp opens. Three of the four starters from last year are back &045; outside linebacker Kavika Pittman signed with Carolina.
Now it’s a matter of taking lessons learned and applying them.
&uot;I made a lot of mental mistakes at Baltimore,&uot; Green said. &uot;I had no idea what to expect when I was with the Ravens. They give you plays in the morning, and at 1 o’clock you have to know it. I have to limit my mistakes and make plays. They’ll find a place to put you if you make plays.&uot;
If things don’t work out, however, Green won’t go off into the doldrums of rejection wondering what to do next. He got that degree in industrial technology &045; just like his mom kept pestering him to do &045; and is taking the GRE today to enter grad school.
He wants to be a teacher and a coach after it’s all over, and he’s glad he’s got options if things don’t work out in the NFL.
&uot;I’ve always had confidence in myself,&uot; he said. &uot;I didn’t feel the world was at an end (last August) because I had graduated from college. When I got out, I picked up where I left off. Football is not the end of my life. I think after I got out it shocked me a little bit and made me realize how precious it is to have a well-paying job. It made me a better person.&uot;