Darrell Greens impact on the National Football League as a rookie
in 1983 was almost immediate, which is fitting for the man who became
known as the Worlds Fastest Athlete in 1991. He returned a punt
61 yards the first time he touched an NFL football during a preseason
game against the Atlanta Falcons, giving Washington Redskins fans a
glimpse of what was to come. Then during his regular-season debut on
Monday Night Football, Green seemed to come out of nowhere as he chased
down and tackled Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett who had broken
from the pack 70 yards earlier and was end zone bound.
Such playmaking has become Greens hallmark during his 19-year
career with the Redskins. He has more than 50 interceptions and has
earned numerous NFL and team records at cornerback. No doubt, his impressive
career totals and longevity make him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
But statistics, records and recognition only tell half of his story.
What really makes Green one of the greatest players to suit up in the
NFL is his faith and integrity. Look no further than his actions during
a ceremonial pre-game coin flip a few seasons ago as proof.
"I called heads, and the ref thought I called tails. [The ref]
was giving us the ball, because it was tails," the 41-year-old
Green recalls. "But I told him I called heads." The guys on
his team looked at him like he was crazy. Green wasnt fazed; hed
done the right thing.
That brand of spiritual integrity has driven Greens steps since
he committed his life to Christ during his sophomore year at Texas A&I
in 1981 after his good friend and athletic trainer Doug Taft invited
him repeatedly to several Bible studies.
"Those Bible studies were really my first experience worshiping
and hearing the truth of Jesus," he admits. "The Word in those
Bible studies brought about what the Scripture says is conviction. I
got on my knees in my dorm and asked God to forgive me like the unbelievers
in Acts 2."
After doing so, Green began leading a new life. When the Redskins drafted
him in 1983 as the 28th pick of the first round, his walk with God intensified
under the leadership of his pastor, Brett Fuller, who is also the chaplain
of the Redskins.
"My public life has been a reflection of me being a disciple,
which causes me to serve in my church as an elder, witness on the team
and lead Bible studies," Green states. "I think my NFL career
has given me somewhat of a stage to preach the gospel."
Green says life and ones relationship with Christ are not a sprint;
rather, they are an endurance race. "As a disciple, your whole
life is transformed," he says. "Its always being transformed
until the day you die."
Because Green has never lived his transformed life in obscurity, whether
he was enjoying the taste of victory in Super Bowls XXII and XXVI or
dealing with 1989s season-ending injury during week seven, the
seven-time Pro Bowler has constantly seized opportunities to let his
"Theres no way I can separate my relationship with the Lord
from my longevity and success," Green says, noting that God impressed
upon him to remain in Washington, D.C., to play with the Redskins for
his entire career. "God made provisions for me to stay and have
the favor here as well as to keep me safe and get me to extend my talents
into my 40s."
He indicates that obedience to Gods will has led to Gods
"I never cheated on my wife," says Green, who has three children,
Jerrell, Jared and Joi with his wife, Jewell. "I dont drink,
I dont smoke and I go home to my family every night. But people
expect me in my business and my environment to be a drinker, carouser,
have a chick on the side and not be responsible with my money."
By living according to Gods Word, Greens lifestyle has
served as his biggest testimony, on and off the field, and adds credence
to the message of everlasting hope he shares on an ongoing basis.
"More than anything, your Christian life is spoken nonverbally,"
he says. "People should see the light of Christ in you by your
behavior and your character. But Im also verbal. I preach the
gospel almost every day to somebody everywhere I go, whether Im
in a cab, walking down the street, on a plane or in the locker room.
You have to preach the gospel, but I think most of all you have to live
In 1988 Green founded the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation to create
opportunities for children living in insecure environments. The mission
of DGYLF is accomplished through community-based and values-driven learning
centers, which operate in urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods across
The Darrell Green Youth Life Learning Center is the centerpiece of
the foundation. Established in 1993 as the charter learning facility
in northeast Washington, D.C., the center operates after school and
offers summer programs. At the centers hundreds of children and young
people have been groomed into leaders with a cogent education, technical
training and moral standards.
Seeing people embrace Christ is Greens greatest thrill.
"What has been most exciting to me during my playing days is meeting
guys, once they leave the league, that have come back and said, Darrell,
Im living for Jesus, " says Green, who plans to cultivate
his foundation and spearhead its continued growth during his retirement.
"They didnt get right while they were [in the NFL], but we
planted a seed."
Having turned his Hall-of-Fame career in the NFL into a faith-planting
endeavor, Green will continue to do the same in the lives of young people
through his foundation. Though the fields he ministers on will change,
Greens mission to reach others with the love and hope of Jesus
Christ remains the same.