Commentary

Former Jet Green makes play of his life

Green Bay's larger-than-life defensive lineman hits Big Ben, turns pass into pick six

Updated: February 7, 2011, 6:34 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Three months ago, Howard Green was released by the New York Jets because he was too fat. Maybe he was, but the big man ended his improbable season Sunday night as a Super Bowl champion.

Not only that, but Green -- a 350-pound defensive lineman -- made a key play in the Green Bay Packers' 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

[+] EnlargeHoward Green
Al Bello/Getty ImagesHoward Green gets props from Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers after the Packers beat the Steelers.

A bull-rushing Green hit Ben Roethlisberger's throwing arm in the first quarter, resulting in a wobbly pass that was intercepted and returned 37 yards for a touchdown by Nick Collins. It was a storybook ending to Green's season.

"One simple word: perseverance," Green said nearly an hour after the game, still in full uniform as he walked on the field at Cowboys Stadium. "I had to deal with some tough things, some ups and downs. The Jets cut me for whatever reason. That's not an issue anymore.

"I appreciate them for giving me the opportunity, but I'm a Packer now and we just won the Super Bowl. That's all I need to say about that."

That's saying plenty.

When Green was released in late October, he was so distraught that he felt he needed time to clear his head. So instead of flying back to his home in Louisiana, he got in his Ford truck and made the 18-hour drive from New Jersey. When he crossed the Mississippi border, he received a call from his agent, informing him he had been claimed on waivers by the Packers.

[+] EnlargeHoward Green
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)Green got to Ben Roethlisberger to help force a first-quarter interception return.

Turns out the Packers were playing the Jets that weekend. Green played in the game and ended up making a key play, tackling Jerricho Cotchery for a loss on a reverse. He became an important part of the Packers' defensive-line rotation.

With 3:34 left in the first quarter Sunday, Green made the play of his life. He used a power rush on left guard Chris Kemoeatu, pushing the 344-pound lineman backward. It was a mountain moving a mountain, but Green got close enough to take a whack at Roethlisberger's arm.

"Yeah, he got ahold of my arm," Roethlisberger said, "but I don't make excuses."

Green studied Kemoeatu on film and noticed that he tends to sit back in his pass-protection stance. The big fella attacked.

"I had a good get-off and I saw him leaning back in his stance," Green said. "I got into him and bulled him. I thought I sacked him, but he got rid of the ball. Actually, it worked out better that I didn't get the sack."

All things considered, it couldn't have worked out any better -- the play, the game and his season.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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