The Players’ Tribune is nothing new to wide receiver A.J. Green by now. In the past year he wrote about the five toughest cornerbacks he’s faced in the NFL and went on a live interview a few months later on the website’s twitter account.
A few days before his eight year begins, he took the time to answer some fan questions in the website’s latest mailbag session. His answers were quite revealing.
Do you have any superstitions?
I don’t know if you’d call them superstitions, but I have a few routines I do before every game.
I always leave for the stadium on the second bus. Never the first. And I have to have new shoes — brand new shoes — for every game. Same with gloves. But I don’t use my gloves in pregame, so the first football I catch with my new gloves each game is the first ball I catch in the game.
The glove thing started in college. I had two pairs of gloves for every game — one for pregame and one for the actual game.
If you want to really get Green out of his mind, all you have to do is make sure he only has one pair of gloves to use. Defensive backs, take note.
5 words to describe Andy Dalton?
Let’s see … he’s funny. Competitive. Honest. Blunt.
The fifth would be … let’s see …
Really riveting revelations and descriptions there. I personally have no idea what Green means by “Red”. Maybe he’s always mad or something and his face turns into a tomato. Your guess is as good as mine.
What is your daily routine?
Now that I have my son, Easton, I wake up every morning at 6:30, because that’s when he wakes up. He’s about to turn two, and every morning he comes into Mommy and Daddy’s room and wants to play. See, he has these little toy animals — like these little rubber lions and bears and moose — and he takes them in the bathtub with him … he takes them everywhere. So when he comes into our room in the morning, he wants to go grab his animals and play fight with them. That’s his favorite, and that’s something I never miss. No matter what I have going on that day, I always wake up with him.
...Oh i’m sorry I was just trying to avoid crying on my keyboard like a normal human being would do after reading that.
Best coverage corner in the game?
I think the best cover corner I’ve faced is Patrick Peterson. He’s been great so long that people really overlook him. He’s just out there doing his thing, being consistent. But he’s a big corner that can run — he’s like six foot one, 215 pounds and can run a 4.3. His ball skills are great, too. I think it’s very hard to find a big corner who can run and who also can play the ball very well. But he’s the whole package.
Green stays consistent here and keeps the same answer he had last year. Peterson truly is a freak of an athlete, and praise directed towards him has come from plenty more than just Green.
What career will you pursue after your NFL days are over?
You know, crazy thing … I was just talking to my financial advisor about this the other day. You know, the life after football talk. And honestly, I have no idea what I’ll want to do. I’ll probably have some opportunities back at Georgia. They want me to come shadow the receivers coach one off-season. But I haven’t really thought about it too much yet because I feel like I’m still so young. I still got a lot left in tank and a lot of years left in the NFL.
Whatever it is, it’ll be something close to the game. Coaching my son, definitely. But whatever I do, I don’t think I’ll ever get too far away from football.
It should come as no surprise that Green, who is always family and football, wants both of his main interests to be the center of his life after he retires. He’s been adamant about playing for a considerable amount of time beyond this year, and there’s no reason to think why that won’t happen.
Your top 3 best WRs in the league?
I look at a lot of other receivers like Michael Thomas and Mike Evans and all the top receivers in the game — especially in the off-season. I don’t really study them, but I watch them a little and just kind of see what they do. And the three best are probably Julio Jones, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Julio is big and physical, and he can run all the routes. For Odell, he’s got the great hands with the one-handed catches and all, but what he can do after the catch is crazy. And AB, he can run every route. He can run after the catch, too, but his ability to get in and out of breaks is probably the best in the league.
If you polled 100 football fans off the street and asked them who are the best three receivers in the league, the top three answers would be the three Green mentioned. Humble as ever, Green fails to mention him as one of the three, but that’s okay. Because we know he is.
What is your biggest fear?
Failure. Failure in life. I think what pushes me every day is that I’m so afraid to fail.
I think it comes from what I went through in school growing up and not being great in the classroom and having to work harder than everybody else. From a young age, I had trouble with reading comprehension. I would have to read things multiple times to really get a grasp of what I was reading.
Like, I remember when I took my ACT, I was in the school cafeteria with a bunch of other kids. And I was like halfway done with the test, and one by one the other kids started getting up because they had already finished.
And I was still sitting there, reading the questions over and over and over to make sure I understood.
My scores were good, it just took me forever to finish. And I was ashamed of it because I didn’t understand why I had to work harder in the classroom than other kids.
Eventually I understood that God gave me this gift — the ability to play football — that a lot of people don’t have. So I just thought, Well, God didn’t bless me in the classroom, but that’s O.K. He’s blessed me in other ways.
Once I began to understand that, I felt comfortable sharing the story with other kids who are going through the same things, to let them know it’s O.K., they’re not alone.
Not all football players had the easiest time in the classroom. Sports in general can serve as an escape from troubles in school or at home. Green’s openness about his struggles with reading is extremely admirable, and his fear of failure has lead him to accomplish things not many on this earth can say they have done.
How hard was making a college decision?
It wasn’t hard at all because growing up in South Carolina, it was always, “A.J., are you going to South Carolina or Clemson?” And I guess I just wanted to go somewhere different. I committed to Georgia my sophomore year and never wavered after that. There wasn’t even a second place school. It was still close enough to home that my parents could drive down, but it was far enough that people from home couldn’t just pop up on me, you know?
And I loved Coach Richt. He used to come to my basketball games. We would be in the layup line or whatever, and Coach Richt would randomly walk into the gym, completely unannounced. So I was like, O.K., don’t give him a reason to not like you. Gotta play your best game!
He never told me not to play basketball, though. And I appreciated that, because a lot of coaches would. They’d tell me to focus on football. But Coach Richt never did that. He was always very supportive, and he always focused on helping me become a good man off the field before even talking about football. I really liked that about him.
The bolded part of the answer I think applies to 95% of college students.
Green’s comments regarding his former coach Mark Richt really gives you a sense of how Green came into the league so mentally prepared. The impact our mentors can have on us at such a pivotal time in our lives can truly shape us into the people we become.
There is no second place.
Acceptable answer, but fruity pebbles would like a word.
Who is the biggest prankster on the team?
Prankster? Gotta be Tyler Eifert.
If you put your bag down somewhere, he’ll hide it — he’ll take it and put it in somebody’s locker or something and then blame it on them. Tyler’s always got something up his sleeve.
You know tight ends.
They’re all crazy.
Let’s just hope no one puts anything heavy in their bag so Eifert’s back won’t be the one that’s being pranked.