Harold Green had brief, but memorable success with the Bengals in the early 90s.
If you're like me, you appreciate it when, at the end of a movie, you’re told what happens to all the principal characters in the future of that particular fictional world. I'm oddly gratified feeling as though those make-believe people have a life beyond the story I just witnessed. For example, it gives me immense comfort to know that in The Sandlot universe "Squints" Palledorous goes on to marry Wendy Peffercorn and they get it on repeatedly to the tune of nine kids (in case you haven't seen the movie in awhile, or never -- for shame! -- here ya go).
With that in mind, we're going to start turning a retrospective/"where are they now?" spotlight on some former Bengal players. We've been reporting lately on what some of them are up to, like David Fulcher (now head coach at Cincinnati Christian Schools) and Cris Collinsworth (who is using his broadcasting hiatus to coach at his son's high school football program), but we'd like to add to the character arc of other guys who've worn the stripes and talk about what they've done and what they're doing.
Since we've spilled so much electronic ink lately talking up the potential of rookie wide receiver A. J. Green, it's only fair and sensible to begin this series by spotlighting the last famous Green to suit up for the Bengals: fullback/running back Harold Green, who played nine seasons in the NFL, six of them with the Bengals (1990-95).
In point of fact, the Bengals have had four Greens in their roster history. Other than A. J. and Harold, there was a Dave and a Skyler, both of whom made fairly forgettable cameos in Cincinnati. Dave Green, an Ohio University alum, was a punter for the team in 1974 and punter/kicker in '75, when the team went 11-3.
That team, the last one coached by Paul Brown, finished second to the Steelers in the AFC North and entered the playoffs as the wildcard (despite Green's 47.6% field goal conversion rate), losing 31-28 to the Oakland Raiders. Green was then selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 expansion draft, playing three seasons there before retiring. Following his football career, Dave got into broadcasting high school football, peddling memorabilia on a show called "Sports Collectables," and he opened a business in Tampa called Green's Screens, dealing with pool and patio enclosures (by the way, I was the 31st person to view this remarkable marketing video. Let's see if we can't get that number up to 1,000, shall we?).
Skyler Green was a more recent actor on the Bengal stage (as some of you with Will Hunting-esque photographic memories will recall). Sklyer, first cousin of New England Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis, was drafted by the Cowboys in the fourth round of 2006, moved to their practice squad, and then was picked up by the Bengals after his release two months later.
Promoted from the Bengals practice squad in 2007 (and wearing the #18, soon to be made immortal by A. J. Green), Sklyer caught three passes for 33 yards and returned nine punts for 38 yards before being released (he must have enjoyed his time with the Bengals because his flashy website, skylergreen.net, still boasts images of him in his stripes on the splash page). After stints with the Saints and the Edmonton Eskimoes of the CFL, Skyler is currently on the roster of the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League. (Incidentally, the VooDoo cheerleaders are cleverly called the VooDoo Dolls. I wanted to point this out as a contrast to the awkward-sounding "Ben-gals," which has always suggested to me that they've all had sex reassignment surgery. How about "Lady Cats" or something else less gender bending?).
But the Green most remembered in Bengal history is Harold. Born in Ladson, South Carolina to a military family, Harold Green II spent much of his childhood abroad, living in Japan, the Philippines, and Panama before his father retired from service and the family settled back in South Carolina, where Green excelled at Stratford High School (they called him the "Ladson Laser"). Green went on to attend the University of South Carolina, where he was a teammate of future Packers Pro Bowl receiver Sterling Sharpe. As a Gamecock, Green rushed for 3,005 yards on 702 carries and scored 33 TDs. He was eventually elected to the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.
The Bengals then knabbed Green with the 38th pick in the 1990 draft. He spent his first year in Cincinnati as the fullback for James Brooks's last effective season in the NFL (Brooks collected 1,004 yards to Green's 353). But the following season Green proved to be the more productive runner, picking up 731 yards to Brooks's 571 in only six extra carries, for a terrible Bengals team that finished 3-13. This was the season, you might remember, after which Boomer Esiason demanded a trade, only to be cajoled by Mike Brown, in his first year of team ownership, to come back one more season and ease the transition into the David Klingler era.
In light of that transitional period, coupled with the departure of the aging Brooks and the injury-forced retirement of Ickey Woods, Green became the feature back for the team in 1992, which proved to be by far his best season. His number of carries spiked from 158 to 265,and with a 4.4 YPC average he racked up 1,170 yards, as well as 41 catches for 214 yards. Those stats are all the more impressive considering the decline of Esiason, the ineptitude of Kilngler, and the fact that all-world tackle Anthony Munoz missed the bulk of the season, his last, with knee and shoulder injuries.
But Munoz was able to get on the field for Green's biggest day as a Bengal, which came on 20 December 1992 against the New England Patriots when he rushed for 190 yards, at the time second only to Brooks's 201 yards on 23 December 1990. It was an effort that the Los Angeles Times called "a career day during an otherwise unimpressive performance by two of the NFL's most inept teams." But Green, noted for his reticence, downplayed the affair.
"I'm excited about it, but it's not a big deal," Green said. "It's not all for Harold Green. It's for everybody that's been a part of this throughout the season."
Backup QB Don Hollas, who replaced an injured Klingler, put it better when he said, with unintentional humor, "We were fortunate today that we didn't have to throw it." In fact, Green had five one hundred yard games, which were soon to become relics as no other Bengal runner would reach the 100 yard mark until Ki-Jana Carter in 1997...68 flippin' games later!
After making the '92 Pro Bowl, Green held out for a bigger contract in the off season. On 21 August 1993, he ended his 28 holdout by signing a three year deal for around 4.1 million, but because hadn't signed on time he missed the season opener against Cleveland.
He may have been better off missing the whole season, as he was only able to produce 589 yards on his 215 carries, an abysmal YPC average of 2.7. And the team continued to falter, slipping from 5-11 back to 3-13, a record it would repeat the following year. In many ways, Green ascended at the absolute worst time. Mike Brown had control of the organization and the gears that moved those more competitive 80s teams -- Esiason, Munoz, Collinsworth, coach Sam Wyche, and even the healthy versions of Woods and Brooks -- were gone. And by the end of '95 so was Green, passing the torch to rookie RB Corey Dillon. Green went on to have a decent season with the Rams, splitting carries with Lawrence Phillips, and two retread seasons with the Falcons, with whom he made it to the Super Bowl in 1998, before retiring.
After football, Green worked for four years with the University of South Carolina's Academic Enrichment Center as a Career Development Coordinator. He also put his Bachelor of Science degree in Retail Management to use by teaming up with three of his former Gamecock teammates -- Otis Morris, Gerald Dixon, and Sterling Sharpe -- to create Pro Bowl Motors, an auto dealership in Columbia, South Carolina, where he currently serves as Vice President.
Green has also been a prolific philanthropist, which is noted in his company bio. In 1993, he established the "Green Team Foundation," which serves to provide college scholarships for underprivileged high school seniors. He has also served on the board of directors for the "South Carolina Children's Home" and the "National Retail Advisory Board" for the department of Retailing at the University of South Carolina, as well as being a current board member for the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families.
And as if he doesn't have his hands in enough pies, Green is available as a motivational speaker for the small fee range of 3,000 to 5,000 smackers per appearance. Maybe the team should hire him to fire up the rookies with horror stories of what life can really be like for a team that fails to pull together during a period of transition.