Former Cleveland Browns running back William Green addressed Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School students Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the school’s auditorium to send a message of encouragement and motivate them to make decisions leading to success in life. Green participates in the Bill Glass Champions for Life program and visited the school on behalf of the organization.
Green was born in Atlantic City, N.J. He went to Boston College where he played football and where he is the all-time leading rusher. In 2002, he was a first-round draft pick for the Cleveland Browns, initiating his NFL career. According to Green, he was the MVP for the Browns and the leading rusher his first year on the team. He is 6-feet-2 at 230 pounds and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. A big man with a big heart, Green said after he retired from football he wanted to do something he enjoyed and the Champions for Life program reached out to him.
“I really love it,” Green said of the program. “I was one of those kids. My father was addicted to drugs, heroin. …Drugs and alcohol ruined my father’s entire life. … He died of HIV and a year later my mother died. … It was really difficult, especially with my mother. When my father died, she was there standing beside me with her arm around me telling everything would be OK, but when she died there was no one there to do that.”
Green said he struggled for years to make the right decisions in life. He was separated from his siblings after his parents’ deaths. He told the students he just kept telling himself and his siblings that once he got into the NFL, everything would be better. He said after being drafted by the Browns, he realized he had not found a permanent solution to his problems.
“What does NFL stand for?” Green asked students.
“National Football League,” the students shouted.
“Well, the other players and I realized what it really stands for and that’s ‘not for long,’” Green responded.
Green said he retired due to injury and was lucky to have his college degree when his NFL career ended. He told the students that after he awakened from his dream of playing football, it was his education that saved him.
“The degree I got from this university,” Green said holding up a Boston College jersey, “is something no one can take away from me. Success in life can only be earned through hard work and dedication. Education is so important!”
Green told the students to set goals and aim high. He said it is important to look at the larger goals in the distance while working to accomplish the small goals. Green, who can bench press 415 pounds, illustrated his point by performing pushups while four different students took turns standing on his back. He had the smallest of the four step onto his back first. Then, he lifted each them into the air with the largest student in the group going last. Green also bent a steel bar over his head. He said the bar represented obstacles, like prison bars or depression students may face in their lives.
“It’s time to get rid of the bars,” Green told the crowd. “No one’s born a winner or a loser. You’re all born choosers! It is so important to have a vision in your heart — a big dream. … Look at the larger goal in the distance.”
Green said he is proud to participate in the Champions for Life program, which also includes prison ministry. He said he has the platform to help guide the students, and they listen to him.
“When I put that jersey on, they pay attention,” Green asserted. “It’s a responsibility I was given, and I want to try to make the most of it.”
It seems to be working if the LC-M students were any indication. They sat and listened raptly and several were called on to participate in the interactive part of the program. Green said he hopes they got the message.
“No matter where they are, kids have struggles,” Green said. “They need to be willing to persevere and push to reach their goals.”