February 16 is the 40th birthday for former Packer Pro Bowl runner Ahman Green. Ron Wolf struck a deal with former Coach Mike Holgren to swap cornerback Fred Vinson to Seattle for Green in 2000. Vinson never played a game for the Seahawks due to injuries, but Green became an immediate star in Green Bay.
Green ran for over 1,000 yards his first five seasons as a Packer, before rupturing his thigh in 2005. He then returned in 2006 to run for 1,000 yards one last time. Ahman left for Houston as a free agent in 2007, but returned to finish his career as a Packer in 2009. 2003 was his greatest season, rushing for 1,883 yards and 15 touchdowns in addition to catching 50 passes for 367 yards and five more scores…2,250 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns altogether, the greatest year ever for a Packer runner. Green also joined Bo Jackson as the only two players to have more than one 90-yard run in his career. Green had a 98-yarder in 2003 and a 90-yarder in 2004. (Chris Johnson has since joined the club, too.)
When Green returned in 2009, he was able to break Jim Taylor’s team mark for career rushing yards that had stood for 40 years. In fact, it’s remarkable how similar the Green Bay rushing totals of the two backs are: Green carried the ball 1,851 times for 8,332 yards and 54 touchdowns; Taylor carried 1,811 times for 8,207 yards and 81 touchdowns; both averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Taylor has a big edge in rushing touchdowns, and then there is Green’s fumbling problem, supposedly due to his always carrying the ball in his left arm. The really surprising thing in the comparison is that while Green fumbled 34 times on 2,201 touches, Taylor fumbled a slightly worse 33 times on 1,998 touches.
The two were very different backs, though. Taylor was the more punishing runner, but the 6-foot 215-pound Green was very strong with thick thighs and was faster than Taylor. Green ran more upright and was a better pass receiver, too. Green had great speed and made slashing cuts, but he also made yards after contact by lowering his shoulder and pumping his legs. Guard Mike Wahle commented in 2003, “He comes to work every day and busts his butt, and you give him a seam and he’s out the gate.” William Henderson spoke of Green’s leadership qualities, “Ahman Green is a man and a champion because he has humbly taken any accolade and distributed it to every man on this team.” Green was not the dominant player in his time that Taylor was in his, but he was a great runner.
(Adapted from Green Bay Gold.)
Custom Card in 1962 Topps style.