Ahman Green -- Setting the Record Straight
Admittedly, when I write in this space, there are very few specific people that I think to myself, "Is so-and-so going to read this?" By and large, I just want my posts to be insightful or entertaining (or both). "Who is going to read this?" is something I rarely stress about.
Ahman Green in happier days.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about former Texans running back Ahman Green's getting cut from Montreal in the Canadian Football League after they discovered he had a pulled hamstring.
I talked disdainfully about his two years with the Texans, how injury prone he was, and begged the football gods to stop reminding us of the Ahman Green Era in Houston. As it turns out, Ahman Green's feelings about the Ahman Green Era in Houston were mutual. It was a very forgettable, sometimes traumatic time for him as well.
My post was snarky, sarcastic, and if you're Ahman Green reading it, it was probably more than a little heartless. And that's the thing -- I had no idea that Ahman Green was going to actually read my post.
But he did. He told me he did.
After the post went up, I got an e-mail the next morning from Ahman Green himself and, to paraphrase, he wanted to ask/convey the following:
-- "Um, did I ever do something to you?" (That's him asking me.)
-- "Houston was a terrible time for me both personally and from a health standpoint. Your post really kind of brought back some bad memories."
-- "I would love to have a conversation to clarify what was going during my time in Houston and maybe shed some light on why things went the way they did."
Later that day, I e-mailed Ahman Green back and explained that the blog post wasn't anything personal, that I was coming at it from a fan's point of view, and right or wrong, most fans view an oft-injured guy as a disappointment and immediately count up how much money the team paid him for each yard. I proceeded to invite him onto my radio show on 1560 The Game, he accepted and wound up calling in (somewhat unexpectedly, since we hadn't nailed down a specific time) yesterday afternoon.
Rick Smith: Green says he was warned
I wasn't expecting him to blast me for the blog post only because he had indicated to me in the e-mail exchange that that wouldn't be the purpose of the conversation. I expected a civilized, intelligent conversation. Not only did I get that, but Green gave some back story on his troubles early on in Houston -- the death of his father, the difficulties with his daughters, and the injuries.
But the part of the interview that got everybody talking was some chilling insight into the relationship between Green and Texans general manager Rick Smith. Basically, about halfway through his first season in Houston, Smith called Green into his office and asked him if he was faking his injuries:
"I kind of took a step back," he said. "It was kind of a 'wow.' It was probably the biggest eye-opening thing I've ever experienced in my professional career. ... When he said that, it took everything in my power not to do something that I would have regretted."
Green made it clear he was not faking injury and went on to say that the meeting with Smith "left a bad taste in my mouth, and it was a strange experience from there on" in Houston. I also asked him about warning signs before coming to Houston and Green said that other players warned him to be "leery" of Smith. "See the curve ball coming at you. Be ready for that," he said he was told.
Reaction to the interview predictably consisted of many people enjoying watching Rick Smith "exposed" (my listeners' words). There's nothing worse than questioning whether a player is being truthful about injuries, so to those who thought Rick Smith is the devil, this was confirmation. Then there were some people at the other end thinking that Ahman Green was making excuses, and he got paid a lot of money for his time in Houston.
In the end, I think Ahman Green was a guy who went through the worst chapter of his career in Houston, and he felt like he (a) let a lot of people down, (b) had reasons why it happened the way it did beyond those that people knew, and (c) had major issues with management questioning his courage and honesty.
If my e-mail exchange with him after the interview is any indicator, I think he feels like he got some degree of closure on Thursday. He got parts of his Houston story out there that previously were known only by his family, a few teammates and close friends.
Needless to say, my interview with Ahman Green served a much greater purpose for him than my sarcastic blog post.
(You can listen to the interview in its entirety in the podcast section of 1560's website.)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCabliansian.