PHILADELPHIA -- One of the biggest insults of Roy Green's distinguished NFL career came nine days ago, when he tried out for the Washington Redskins.
"I don't know if you can really call it a tryout," said Green, now playing wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1), who began practicing yesterday for Monday night's game against the Redskins (4-0). "They said, 'Run a few patterns. Let us see how you catch and see if you can catch while staying in bounds.' "
"I don't have any hard feelings toward the Redskins, because I understand the economics of this game, but I couldn't believe I had to do this basic stuff. I thought my record spoke for itself," Green said.
A day later, Green was heading north to sign with the Eagles. And, on Sunday, Green was his usual, graceful and fluid-striding self, catching six passes for 114 yards, as the Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-14.
Eagles tight end Keith Jackson, who spent most of last week tutoring Green in the Eagles offense, said: "It's fun to see a guy that's been in the league for a long time go out and make plays like that. If teams are going to start doubling on me or [wide receiver] Fred Barnett, Roy is going to kill them."
Green said: "Everybody talks about my age. Every time I see my name in the paper, it says Roy Green, 34. I started to believe my last name was 34.
"Sooner or later, people are going to stop putting emphasis on age. All they have to do is look at George Foreman, Nolan Ryan, O.J. Anderson and James Lofton. Look at the individual's track record. Maybe it's because the NFL has the biggest player turnover ratio in America, an average of four or five years. I took care of myself."
Green was one of the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals' most consistent players. In 12 seasons, he caught 522 passes for 8,497 yards, and he holds the Cardinals record for touchdowns (69), plus just about every club receiving record, including touchdowns (66), career catches, career yardage and yardage for a season (1,555). He ranks No. 19 all-time in NFL receptions.
If one Cardinal seemed to be untouchable, it was Green. Eight years ago, he was the league's only two-way player as a receiver and defensive back.
But NFL teams have trouble trusting players over 30. Green started losing playing time because of injuries.
And his salary (reportedly nearly $900,000 in 1991) kept increasing.
The Cardinals said goodbye.
"You may feel that you're immune to this type of thing, but you have to realize that this is a business," said Green, who was second on the team
in receptions with 53 for 797 yards and four touchdowns. "After about six years, they figure they can find somebody younger, who can do the same thing as you, but pay him less.
"When I came into the league, I could run a 4.2 40. Now, I run a 4.5. Maybe I have lost a step or two, but I had a few to lose. How many guys run a 4.5? It wasn't like I lost all my skills in a month. I knew I could still get deep. I knew I could still get loose. I knew I could still play."
The Cleveland Browns didn't think so. Neither did the San Diego Chargers.
The Browns cut Green at the end of training camp, though he was slowed by a hamstring injury. Next up for Green was about a month on the golf course before trying out with the Chargers, then the Redskins, who already have one of the NFL's best nTC group of receivers -- Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders.
"After I worked out for the Redskins, the Eagles called me later that day," said Green, who reportedly signed for half the amount he was making in Phoenix last year. "I knew I would get another chance. People kept saying I was finished, but my willingness to return wasn't about money. It was about Sundays in the fall. I enjoy playing against the best in the world."
"I was concerned he might get signed by Washington," said Eagles coach Rich Kotite, who used Green to replace injured starter Calvin Williams of Dunbar High, out at least a month with a dislocated shoulder. "But Roy is exactly what the doctor ordered."
Roy Green's receiving stats
Year.. No.. Yds.. Avg.. Long.. TD
1979.. 1 .. 15 .. 15.0. 15 .. 0
1981. 33 ..708 .. 21.4. 60 .. 4
32 ..454 .. 14.2. 42 .. 3
78 1,227 .. 15.7. 71t .. 14
78 1,555 .. 19.9. 83t .. 12
50 ..693 .. 13.9. 47 .. 5
42 ..517 .. 12.3. 48t .. 6
43 ..731 .. 17.0. 57 .. 4
68 1,097 .. 16.1. 52 .. 7
44 ..703 .. 16.0. 59t .. 7
53 ..797 .. 15.0. 54 .. 4
Totals522 .8,497.. 16.3. 83t ..66