As a player, Redskins cornerback Darrell Green built his Hall of Fame resume on gritty determination, blinding speed and excellent ball skills.
As a person, Green was the consummate teammate, combining his good character with a desire to lead and mentor those who asked.
Since his retirement in 2002, Green has remained a fixture in Redskins Nation and still cares deeply about the team. He told Redskins Nation host Larry Michael that he likes what he sees from the Redskins so far in 2012, particularly the way they conduct themselves off the field.
"They still want to talk about Charles Mann and Darrell Green and Art Monk and all those guys, but I think we do have some solid young men here today."
This past summer, Green made himself available to the players, and got to spend some time with the leaders of the new-look squad.
"I spent time with [wide receiver] Pierre [Garcon] this summer and got to know him," Green said. "I really like that young man. One of my favorites is [cornerback] Josh [Wilson]. Josh is another little guy like me. Chris [Chester]--just so many of them; so many guys."
One of the most intriguing players this year for any Redskins' fan is the man under center,
Even for a man that was once the fastest player in the NFL, Green considers Griffin III to be a dynamic athlete.
“I think [Griffin III]’s an exciting guy, but what I think I’m starting to see in him is the maturity it takes to play the whole game and not just the exciting plays," Green said. "The mundane plays of dropping back, staying in there, delivering the ball and checking off.
"He’s doing all of those things that I think sometimes can get overlooked because he is so dynamic and that one dynamic play can take some of the attention."
Green acknowledged that on-the-field performance must be balanced with character for a team to succeed. Teams with too little character or too little talent are doomed to failure.
"They have to perform on the field--that’s how you got here and that’s how you’ll stay here," he said. "But at the end of the day, these are some solid young men that I’ve spent some time with."
Green will be spending more time with current players at his foundation's 23rd Annual 'Christmas with the Redskins' event, set to take place tonight at the Hilton in McLean.
The event is a Christmas party for more than 150 children from underserved communities throughout Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
This is an event that touches many lives each year, not the least of which is Darrell Green.
"About 25 years ago I was invited by Brig Owens to a Christmas event at RFK Stadium," Green told Michael. "We were upstairs and they had about 100 kids and I’ll never forget that day. I didn’t grow up so economically privileged, so I thought to myself, 'Even if I just got one gift when I was a kid, it had my name on it. It was for me.'"
"That’s what birthed this in my heart. Let’s get people who care about kids and have them go shopping specifically for that kid. When he’s at the event, he gets a gift that you went and picked out. You give it to him, he sits at the table with you."
More than two dozen Redskins players and staff are scheduled to attend the event and sponsor a child with clothing items to present in time for the holidays.
At the party, the children will enjoy dinner, entertainment and games; then end the night in the toy room where they are welcome to select any toys they want.
“As a pro football player, it was a great job. It provided for my family; it was a means to an end, obviously," Green explained. "But fortunately for us, in this country you can have greater means to meet greater ends.
"Over these years we’ve used the medium of the Redskins, and the players have been very responsive each year. They’re always there for us and I really appreciate that. It’s bigger than us, it’s bigger than the Redskins. It’s bigger than all of the individuals. It’s about the children."
For more information on Christmas With the Redskins and other initiatives by the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, visit the foundation website.