This week’s Average Joe William Green is hailed for his legendary Forest Gump-like scamper that clinched a playoff berth and is more widely known for a love triangle involving a DUI, weed, a stabbing, and one shoe and one sock. Say hello to a man who was supposed to let his athletic ability be the future of the Cleveland Browns, but let his lack of brains get in the way.
Some say his troubles started early as both his parents passed away from AIDS by the time he was 13. So what to do in Atlantic City? Become an all American on the grass in football and the sticky green. Green smoked both the competition and the hash pipe at Boston College, twice being suspended for marijuana but was still the highest ranked running back in the 2002 NFL draft. Green must have slipped then Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis a dime bag as he thought Green would be the future and agreed to select him ahead of future All Pro’s Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, and just ahead of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed. Thanks for setting us up for the future and shaping the franchise Butch, appreciate it.
Green was just what the Browns needed as he came on strong in the second half of his rookie year, leading the Browns to the cusp of its first playoff birth since 1994 and the team being ripped to Baltimore. He rushed for 887 yards and six scores his rookie campaign that had Cleveland fans thinking shades Earnest Byner. On the final day of the season with the Browns needing a win to get into the playoffs, leading by one late in the fourth quarter he took a handoff 64 yards to the house in a raucous blue-collar Cleveland Browns stadium to all but seal the win and sending Cleveland to the playoffs. The studder-step scamper influenced Browns play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan to yell “Run William Run” as Green went Forest Gump and ran like a robot into the end zone. This was the start of a special career and multiple Browns playoff runs. Wrong!
The now Cleveland celebrity decided like Tiger Woods he could have anything he wanted. Instead of resting his separated shoulder during the 2004 bye week, he decided to channel Axl Rose and go Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll on a Tuesday morning. Green was hit with a DUI blowing a .165 at 10:30AM making Lindsay Lohan’s weekend benders seem like a glass of wine with dinner. The real story here is that he was getting his goose on at TGI Fridays and then headed to teammate WR Kevin Johnson’s house to make relations with his wife. Caught red handed he broke free like Chris Johnson but unfortunately did not have his getting away from the cops speed and was pulled over and busted for DUI-wearing one shoe and one sock as if he was leaving Michael Jackson’s house. You can’t even be mad, take a bow for that fine performance sir.
Later on that month, Green was admitted to the hospital with a knife wound. Hmmm. First it was accidental, then it was Green stabbing himself while running upstairs with a knife, but finally it was his fiance taking the knife out to scare him and she got too close and stabbed him in the shoulder. So let’s recap. Hero, then DUI, then the stabbing plus NFL suspension. Instead of settling down and figuring it out, Green walked on water for an encore. He showed up at a Cleveland sports talk show live event at the Hard Rock Cafe and proceeded to have a few beverages. Smart. Spotted by multiple people including the talk show host, the NFL found out and grounded Green like he stole liquor from his parents cabinet. Smart. That ended his sophomore year.
His final straw came before a critical bout with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. Prior to the game Green got in yinzer favorite and hated line backer Joey Porter’s face and a brawl ensued like the posse at a Tyson fight. Green was ejected and fined $10k. Between that and some final injuries the following year, his time as a Cleveland Brown and in the NFL was over. His Average Joe career goes to the tune of 2,109 yards and 9 touchdowns over 46 games. Right on point with your average three year shelf life of an NFL player. He attempted a comeback in 2008 claiming to be in good shape but ran a 4.85 40 yard dash that made Cincinnati Bengal offensive lineman Andre Smith running the 40 shirtless at the combine looking like Usain Bolt coasting to the finish line.
William Green was an Average Joe who was suppose to be the face of the Cleveland Browns for 10 years. He was anything but average off the field, leading a lifestyle that Michael Irvin would endorse. Most impressive is that he did this in the mean streets of Cleveland. Next time you see the cops or your fiance with a knife, Run William, Run!
-Written by Tom Hamm