Running backs on the wrong side of 30 usually pack it in, exchange their helmet for a headset, or maybe spend some time on the family farm.
But not Ahman Green, whose willingness to hang on is showing his genuine passion for the game of football.
The former Green Bay Packers workhorse who turns 34 next week answered the emergency call from deep in the heart of Wisconsin two years ago when the Packers were struggling with injuries. He appeared in eight games and rushed for 160 yards. His effort and dedication hadn’t wavered, but it was abundantly clear that he was well into the twilight of his career.
Green didn’t sulk when he was shunned by teams around the NFL, and signed on with the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks last spring, joining Jeff Garcia. Now, Green is headed to his third professional football league.
The four-time Pro Bowler has agreed to terms with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, although the deal won’t be finalized until Green’s UFL contract expires in March.
The list of players who have honed their craft in the CFL before moving on and thriving south of the border is lengthy. It’s a list that begins with the likes of Warren Moon and Joe Theismann, and also features Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake from just this past season.
But the list of players doing the opposite and finishing out their golden years by looking to the Great White North is much shorter. Andre Rison won a Super Bowl with the Packers in 1996, and was selected to the NFL’s All-Pro team four times before being the veteran leader during the Toronto Argonauts’ championship run in 2004.
In fact, the Argos have provided a bit of a haven for NFL castoffs. In addition to the Ricky Williams experiment, Mike Vanderjagt went full circle, winning back-to-back Grey Cups with the Argos in the late 90′s before heading to the Colts, and then handling kicking duties for Toronto once more in 2008.
Perhaps the most notable NFL stud to head to the land of rouges and the 55-yard-line is former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau. Gastineau became the only player to lead the NFL in sacks for two straight seasons, and recorded 107.5 career sacks while being the key figurehead of the defensive line dubbed the “New York Sack Exchange.”
His 10-year career ended in 1988, but he attempted a comeback with the B.C Lions in 1990 that lasted just four games due to injury.