- Graham Bensinger, Contributing Writer, ESPN.com
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Editor's note: Each week during the season, Graham Bensinger talks with a high-profile NFL figure for ESPN.com's Weekly Conversation. This week, he checks in with Kansas City QB Trent Green, whose team is 8-7 and on the playoff bubble. The Chiefs can earn a wild-card berth with a win over Jacksonville on Sunday and a Cincinnati loss or tie and a Denver loss and a Tennessee loss or tie.
Graham Bensinger: How have your holidays been going?
Trent Green: They've been going great. It worked out well that we had a game on the 23rd, so we got to actually spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the day after [together]. We had a three-day break right around Christmas.
Bensinger: Did you get any presents?
Green: Oh, yeah. We keep it pretty low key though. We try to keep everything in perspective for the kids.
Bensinger: What are the Greens' plans for New Year's?
Green: We're playing the day before New Year's, so we'll have friends and family in for the game and probably just a little dinner afterwards. Nothing too crazy. It's not too eventful, but we have three kids, so we just try to do some family stuff.
Bensinger: How would you describe what this week is like leading up to your final game of the season against Jacksonville?
Green: There's obviously a lot going on. We're still trying to win a football game and hoping some things happen our way in terms of how other games finish. Our approach is to just do our best to try and win this game and then try and hope for the best. A lot of people around here begin the speculation game: the "what if" game. It's easy to get distracted during this week because so much of the attention is placed on other things that don't have to do with beating Jacksonville, but Coach Edwards, the staff, and the players are pretty focused on just trying to get this job done.
Bensinger: You always hear people say that the mentality in the locker room is different for certain games. Any truth to that?
Green: I think it depends on the player. I always get a kick out of reporters when they say "this is a must-win game" or "this game carries more weight than the other games." There are only 16 games, so week No. 2, week No. 7, week No. 16 -- they all count the same. If you're taking a different approach, that's always disappointing to me that people try and place more importance on one game than the other. The NFL is not like MLB or the NBA where you're playing so many games. Because things have been so defined these last few weeks in terms of postseason ramifications, I guess it does carry more weight because that's where the attention is being placed.
Bensinger: What do you think of the season that the Chiefs have had so far?
Green: I think it's one where we're learning. It's one where we are growing as a team. Coach Edwards has a much different approach than what Coach [Dick] Vermeil had the last few years. There have been some really high points and some low points. It's very typical of an NFL season in the roller coaster of emotions that you go through. It's one where we're definitely growing to understand what Coach Edwards expects in terms of our preparation and the way he wants to manage games.
Bensinger: Based on the talent the Chiefs have, has the team underachieved, overachieved, or is it right where you expected?
Green: If you look at how our games have played out, last year we were 10-6, hopefully we'll finish 9-7 this year. If you were to take a poll of a bunch of people, if you look at the way the division shaped out and our opponents in terms of scheduling, this may be where everybody predicted us. Personally, I would rather have a better record.
Bensinger: You've had the privilege of working with several talented running backs during your career. How would you describe the impact of a big-time running back?
Green: It's huge. In this offense, it's such an integral part of that. Being able to have balance between the run and the pass and being able to utilize play-action. I've been very fortunate to play with a number of very gifted backs over my career, so that's definitely an important part of it.
Bensinger: What's Priest Holmes like?
Green: I get along great with Priest. He just hasn't been around all year. He's kind of his own guy. He's going to give you a 100 percent effort every time on the field no matter what phase of the game it is, whether it be a protection, a run, or a route. He's a great teammate.
Bensinger: What are the biggest differences you notice in the actual style of play between him and Larry Johnson?
Green: Larry is more of a downhill runner and Priest is more of a slasher or someone that picks his spots and looks for cutbacks.
Bensinger: As a QB, what impact does that have on you?
Green: It impacts how we call the run game, but their style doesn't impact me a whole lot.
Bensinger: This is the Chiefs' first year under Herm Edwards. How would you compare him to other head coaches that you've had?
Green: Very similar to Coach Vermeil in their approach to players, relationships, and what they're trying to do in the best interest of players and the organization. Where they differ is their approach. Herm has a defensive background. Coach Vermeil had an offensive background. There's a different philosophy and game management style, but they're definitely very similar.
Bensinger: This past summer, I saw you and Coach Edwards in Lake Tahoe. You both were playing in the American Century Championship [a celebrity golf tournament]. Who's the better golfer?
Green: [laughs] I think he's the better golfer. He just didn't have a good experience out at Tahoe this year. He's going to be much more practiced and ready for this year's tournament. Based on handicaps and ability, I would say he is, but he just had a couple of bad rounds. That's just a growing experience as well.
Bensinger: The concussion. What do you remember from that day?
Green: I remember everything except about a 20- to 25-minute window. I remember leading up to the play. Then, when the play happened, I don't remember anything until 20-25 minutes later, when I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. From what everybody has told me, I probably won't ever regain that.
Bensinger: What was it like when you watched the videotape of it?
Green: It wasn't like an Earth-shattering kind of thing where it caused me a bunch of trauma or anything like that. It was just interesting to see how it unfolded. By that point in time, I had already received word that there was no penalty called and the league hadn't done anything from a fine standpoint. After seeing it, I already knew it was ruled a legal hit and you just try to look at how the play unfolded and try to see how I could have done some things differently.
Bensinger: What were the days following the concussion like?
Green: For a couple days, I was still in the hospital, so that wasn't any fun. They continually monitored me coming in every hour to two hours. They put me through neuro tests to make sure things were working properly. Then, it was a lot of sleep because of the amount of medications that they had me on.
Bensinger: Was there a time when you wondered if your career was in jeopardy?
Green: I didn't think so based on what the neurosurgeons told me. I checked with a number of doctors and they told me as long as everything is treated properly that there would be no reason why I couldn't come back and play. It was just a matter of the length of time that it would take for everything to heal. That was the hard part to determine. The brain is such an unknown mystery as far as healing time. Everybody heals at a different pace. They couldn't tell me if it was going to be two [weeks], four, six, eight, or even a year. They couldn't tell me a time frame as to how soon I could get back. That was disheartening, but everything has worked out for the best.
Bensinger: To what extent have there been any lingering effects from the concussion?
Green: Nope. There are none. I didn't have any effects for several weeks. They made sure before I returned that I was symptom-free for several weeks before they allowed me to get back.
Bensinger: This week, there was a Kansas City Star column titled, "Green just isn't the same QB." How do you respond to sentiments like that?
Green: It's their opinion. I don't really get too caught up in the media's opinion whether it's good or bad. I think that's important for all QBs or any player because [the media] doesn't understand a lot of things that go into preparation for the week, they don't understand the timing of offense, and they don't understand the different things that go on throughout the course of a game -- so it really doesn't bother me one way or the other. I know they have a job to do. Really, it's all based on opinion. It's not based on facts. I understand they're trying to sell papers, get viewers, or get listeners to their shows. It doesn't faze me. I just understand that's part of playing the position.
Bensinger: You've been with Kansas City since 2001, been loyal to the city, and had considerable success. How frustrating does that make it when you have some people bailing on you so quickly?
Green: It's part of the position. My favorite commercial is the Brett Favre Monday morning QB Visa commercial where he gets to go around and second guess everyone around the city in terms of different things that they're doing. The fortunate thing is that the majority of the people understand what I've been able to do the last several years and they appreciate that. I feel like I have several more years of football to play. As long as I have the support of my coaches, teammates, and organization. There are always going to be people that try to go the other way just because that's the nature of the position and it's the Monday morning QB curse.
Bensinger: Obviously, there are other QBs with great stories, but what I love about yours is that you're an eighth-round pick, 222nd overall, and you were even cut by the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League before you became an NFL starter. When you've had doubters, you've overcome that. When the going gets tough, what do you say to yourself?
Green: You have to have self-confidence. It doesn't do anybody any good to have cockiness. You have to have self-confidence to be able to move on to the next play. Whether you throw a TD pass or an INT, you have to get back in there and get ready for the next play. You can't have anything negatively effect you. A lot of it is just having faith in myself, faith in the system, and knowing I've been in the system for awhile and have a pretty good understanding of how it works and how the offense can run and the ability to lead the offense. That wraps it up in a nutshell.
Graham Bensinger is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Visit his Web site at: TheGBShow.com. You can e-mail him at email@example.com
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