It was a transaction that failed to ignite shockwaves across national media outlets or send fantasy football owners into a state of collective delirium.
However, upon word breaking on Oct. 20, 2009 that running back Ahman Green was returning to the Green Bay Packers—his professional home of seven years—following a two-year stint with the Houston Texans, the residents of Titletown happily welcomed the homecoming of their former feature back.
From 2000-06, Green, who turned 36 on Saturday, amassed 8,162 yards (46 yards shy of supplanting Jim Taylor as the franchise’s leading rusher) on the ground; accounted for 62 touchdowns (rushing and receiving); garnered four consecutive Pro Bowl selections (2001-04); and had six 1,000-yard rushing campaigns under his belt.
With a backfield decimated by injury (Korey Hall, Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn) less than two months into the 2009 season, the signing of Green was a welcome sight for the green and gold faithful.
Seeing action in eight contests for the Packers, Green, while unable to turn back time in respect to his prime-year production (the Omaha, Neb., native accounted for 160 yards and one touchdown on 41 carries), not only eclipsed Taylor atop the Green Bay all-time rushing list (8,322), but also put a ribbon on a career that will, ultimately, live on in Packer lore.
Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round (76th overall) of the 1998 NFL draft following his junior year at Nebraska, Green, who departed the collegiate ranks as the Cornhuskers’ career leader in rushing yards (3,880) and touchdowns (42), split time in the backfield and as a kick returner during his two years in Seattle.
Playing behind veteran Ricky Watters, Green ran the ball a total of 61 times before being traded to the Packers in 2000 (along with a fifth round draft choice) in exchange for a sixth round draft pick and defensive back Fred Vinson, who, as it turned out, never played a down for the Seahawks in a regular season game.
Needless to say, the Packers received more bang for their buck in the exchange.
During his first campaign in the Dairy State, in 2000, the then 23-year-old Green backfilled the role of Dorsey Levens, who was limited to five games following a knee injury, beautifully as he ran for 1,175 yard and 10 scores (good for 17th in the league), in addition to snaring 73 receptions.
Akin to the lyrics of Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Night,” Green’s backfield success while donning the green and gold would be a recurring refrain.
In 2001, his first season as a feature back, Green started all 16 games for the playoff-bound Packers (12-4) and rushed for 1,387 yards (trailing only the likes of Priest Holmes, Curtis Martin and Stephen Davis atop the league leader board), while accounting for 11 touchdowns.
While Green Bay bowed out to St. Louis in rather un-dramatic fashion (a 45-17 pasting) in the divisional round of the playoffs, it was clear that the Packers had a budding star in Green.
The acme of the former Omaha Central High School standout’s statistical brilliance came in 2003 when Green, at the age of 26, scampered for a franchise-record 1,883 yards (more than 400 yards ahead of its nearest competitor) and 15 touchdowns, trailing only Holmes for the league lead.
Additionally, Green, who again started all 16 games in the Green Bay backfield, averaged 117.7 rushing yards per outing (third in the league); held the distinction of having the longest run of the NFL season (a Forrest Gump-esque 98 yarder against Denver on Dec. 28, 2003); was one of only seven halfbacks to average at least 22 rushing attempts per game; and stockpiled 2,250 total yards from scrimmage (good for third in the NFL, behind only LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Lewis).
Following an injury-riddled 2005 campaign, Green rebounded to play in 14 contests for Green Bay in 2006 and parlayed his sixth 1,000-yard season into a four-year, $27 million contract courtesy of the Texans.
Signing with Houston on March 4, 2007, Green arrived in the Lone Star State with no shortage of fanfare. However, plagued by injuries, Green, a member of two national championship teams at Nebraska (1995, 1997), played in only 14 games for Gary Kubiack’s club over two seasons before being released following the 2008 season.
While the writing appeared to be on the wall in respect to the curtain being dropped on his career, Green was yet again called upon by his adopted hometown.
Playing against the Seahawks at Lambeau Field in the second-to-last regular season game on Dec. 27, 2009, Green, presently a co-owner of the Indoor Football League’s (IFL) Green Bay Blizzard, put a serendipitous cap to a storied career.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Packers holding 41-3 edge, Green took a hand-off from Matt Flynn at the Seattle six-yard line with 6:39 to play and found his way into the end zone—culminating, of course, with a Lambeau Leap—for the 74th and final time.
It was a moment representative of the past and present impact of a player whose legacy will remain intact for future generations.