CANTON, Ohio – Few people get to see their fathers inducted into the Hall of Fame. Even fewer get to play in a Hall of Fame Game in front of their Hall of Fame father.
Cowboys receiver Jared Green will take the field in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, just five years after presenting his father into the Hall of Fame. Green's dad, Darrell, will be in attendance to watch his son play.
"I'm so excited about tomorrow," Green said. "Only a number of people in the world can say that. I also get to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and I also get to have my dad, who's a Hall of Famer, in the stands. He's here and he's in the festivities and this is his group. He's an alumni, so this is special."
Green's father actually answered the phone while sitting on stage right before the Hall of Fame ceremony began when Green called to let his dad know the team had made it in.
As his father sat on stage at Saturday's Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, Green toured the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where he found his father's bust under the 2008 inductees for the first time.
"This is the craziest weekend of my life," Green said. "Last time I was here, we were in the parade, we had probably 200 guests here, and I didn't get the opportunity to come here, plus I was preparing my speech. By the time we had finished up and I was on the stage, all my family had come here and done this, so this is my first time being in here and seeing the bust. It's crazy."
Green said it blows him away to see someone in his family, let alone someone as close to him as his father, with a statue sitting in the Hall of Fame surrounded by the legends of the game. He said everybody wants to go to the NFL and be great, but they rarely grow up saying they want to be a Hall of Famer.
"It's almost like this untouchable kind of a dream," Green said. "Those guys are like legends you can't touch, but this is my father, you know? I think that's just crazy."
It made the moment and weekend much more special that Green could take in the experience as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
Five years earlier, as he was presenting his father into the Hall of Fame, Green said his dad always encouraged him to be the best at whatever he did. The undrafted receiver's certainly accomplished that goal, allowing him to look at his father's statue in the Hall of Fame as an NFL member himself.
"That's what makes it even more special, that I'm not visiting this room with a bunch of buddies from a school event or something like that," Green said. "I'm visiting this thing with my brothers, my teammates, and I'm about to play a game that's dedicated to the same thing that my father's in this Hall for."
It was never easy for Green to be the son of a Hall of Fame player when he started playing football. Darrell Green amassed seven Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowls as a first-round pick, totaling 54 interceptions during his career.
Meanwhile, Jared Green, who bounced from Carolina's practice squad last year and now to Dallas' roster this year, hasn't played in an NFL game. He said he struggled with being referred to as Darrell Green's son and not Jared Green during his early years in his football career, but he began to accept the circumstances and appreciate them.
"I just said, you know, this is a blessing to be who I am, and my dad has done everything that he's done, and people are either going to talk about you great because of who your dad is, or they're going to talk bad about you because of who your dad is," he said. "But at the end of the day, who really cares? Just have fun. That's really what my new philosophy is, have fun, enjoy it."
There's no doubt Jared Green will enjoy every moment of playing in tomorrow's game tomorrow as his father watches on.
It's likely Green will get enough playing time to make his mark in the Cowboys' first preseason game, which should feature a heavy dose of backup players. He knows what kind of opportunity is in front of him, and his father will be there to root him on, even if the former Redskins defender has to cheer for a Cowboys receiver.
"My family's just excited because they have another family member to root for," Jared Green said.