Green: thirtysomething and still something else Redskins cornerback dismisses age myth

July 03, 1991|By Vito Stellino

Darrell Green can't understand why it's taken for granted that he should be starting to slow down at age 31.

"I think about that quite a bit. Am I supposed to be slower? I'm not saying that sarcastically. What is it from, physics? What is it from, medicine? Should I not run this fast at this point?

"I think somebody needs to look at that seriously and break the myth [that athletes slow down in their 30s]. I think 28 to 35 would be where you'd run your best as opposed to 19 to 26," Green said.

Green certainly is doing his best to explode that myth.

The Washington Redskins cornerback became known for his speed in his first NFL game, when he ran down Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys from behind on a Monday night in 1983. And he doesn't appear to have lost a step as he prepares for his ninth season.

He proved it last Saturday when he beat Ron Brown of the Los Angeles Raiders in a photo finish in the 6th annual DHL/NFL's Fastest Man contest. He's won the event all four years he's entered it.

Green said he ran 4.3 in the 40-yard run for the Redskins as a rookie, got it down to 4.1 at one point, was clocked in 4.2 at minicamp this year and thinks he can maintain this speed for another five years.

Green does have one theory to explain why many athletes seem to lose a step in their 30s.

"Unfortunately, most athletes don't take care of themselves. It's partying, it's drinking and not really training to a top level," he said.

Green said he doesn't drink, take drugs or smoke and trains hard all year.

"Maybe that comes from me being so thankful for my talents. I'm always pushing it. I'm trying to get better," he said.

Green, though, wants to be remembered for more than simply being fast.

"I've always dreamed of being recognized more as a great cover corner, and I think that's really been coming over the last few years," he said.

Green's ability to cover the best receiver on the opposing team one-on-one is the key to the Redskins' defense because it enables them to double-cover other receivers.

Green said one of his goals is to make the Pro Bowl at least 50 percent of the time and he's right on target, with four Pro Bowl appearances in eight years. He might have made it in 1989, but he broke his wrist in the seventh game.

"I'm not mad, but I'm disappointed if I don't make the Pro Bowl. I desire to be the best corner. I desire to cover [San Francisco's] Jerry Rice," he said.

That Green shows no sign of losing a step means the Redskins should have the defense to be a contender again this year.

Green is optimistic because he thinks it was important for the young players that the Redskins played in two playoff games last year.

"We had a lot of team meetings down the stretch and I personally made one note: 'If we can just get in, we will mature all of our young guys." The whole cast got an opportunity to get a feel for this," he said.

Although Green has played in three Super Bowls, some of the young defensive backs, such as A.J. Johnson and Martin Mayhew, never had played in a playoff game.

The big question for the Redskins is whether they finally can figure out a way to beat the New York Giants. They've lost six straight to the Giants, and haven't beaten them since 1987, the last time the Giants were defending champions.

That Bill Parcells has departed as head coach could help the Redskins.

"We can't say we haven't seen them," Green said. "We pretty much know them. We've got no excuses. I don't think the lack of Parcells or anything else is going to be the difference. The players have to get out and get the job done."

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