TEMPE, Ariz. — Few sports-related press conferences are filled with as many smiles and as many memories as the one held Wednesday at the Arizona Cardinals’ training facility when Roy Green was formally announced into the team’s Ring of Honor.
There were also laughs. Lots of laughs.
It was a celebratory occasion, just as it will be at halftime on Oct. 2 when the Cardinals host the Los Angeles Rams. That’s when Green will join 15 other Ring of Honor members at University of Phoenix Stadium.
On Wednesday, Green and team president Michael Bidwill reminisced about the latter’s time as a Cardinals ball boy and Green’s fondness for his teammates, including Arizona Sports 98.7 FM personality Ron Wolfley.
But center to it all was Green, who in 12 seasons with the St. Louis and Phoenix Cardinals caught 522 passes for 8,496 yards and 66 touchdowns. He added another 1,932 yards and one touchdown as a kick returner and intercepted four passes.
There’s a reason he’s going into the Ring of Honor, though the news came as a surprise to Green.
“I found out a few weeks ago, had no idea what was going on,” said Green, who now works on the Cardinals’ broadcast team. “All I knew was I was called up to the offices, and in my experience that’s always been a bad thing. So all these thoughts were going through my head, and I got up and Michael and I, we visited for a moment, talked about a couple of things, and he told me the plan, that I was going into the Ring of Honor.
“I was overwhelmed, first and foremost, had no idea it was happening.”
Green said he felt “like a baby” at that point as moments from his career flashed before his eyes.
One memory was playing on the team as it made the move from St. Louis to Arizona. Green will be the first player who played for the team in both locales to enter the Ring of Honor.
“It’s very special to me to have a lineage there in St. Louis and to be a part of the first National Football League team here in Arizona,” Green said. “To know that as long as football is played here my name is going to be in the rafters there.”
Green admitted his youngest granddaughter is a big Larry Fitzgerald fan but even though she wears No. 11 to games, he will be able to point to the rafters and show her that he used to be pretty good, too.
Ironically, it is Fitzgerald who erased Green’s name from the top of the Cardinals’ pass-catching record books. As of now Green is second in total receiving yardage as well as touchdown catches. He ranks fourth in career receptions — behind Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Larry Centers — and is third in individual combined yardage behind Fitzgerald and Stump Mitchell.
Not bad for a fourth-round pick out of Henderson State who said he wasn’t supposed to be in the NFL.
Green told a story about how his college coach had to convince NFL scouts to check him out, calling every team in the league in order to make it happen.
His coach, apparently, told the scouts that he had a player they needed to see. If he was not good enough, then they would never have to visit the school to scout prospects again.
“From that I got my opportunity, thankfully, with the Cardinals,” Green said, noting 2016 Cardinals draft pick Robert Nkemdiche’s comments about Arizona being the right place for him. “I was meant to be here and I felt like that throughout my entire career and I feel like that now.”
Green went on to play two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles after leaving the Cardinals, but there is no question about which bird he relates to more.
What accomplishment is he most proud of?
Being told he was a great teammate tops Green’s list. But he was more than that for the Cardinals, which is why Bidwill said he had been thinking about getting Green’s name into the Ring of Honor for a while.
“Look at that Ring of Honor as a special place and you want to put special players in there,” he said. “And you look at Roy’s complete body of work and offense, defense; back in the day when we had a 45-man roster limit, he was our emergency quarterback and also ran the scout team as the quarterback in practice.
“And he’s somebody that I grew up around with, my sister is here in the back, she grew up around him. It was before free agency when players were with you for their whole career, virtually,” Bidwill added. “You think about the great competitors, the great people, the great players that we had that you had great confidence that you could throw the ball to them and they’d make a play and that they were giving it their all, and there’s no doubt that Roy Green earned that right to be in the Ring of Honor, and I was excited to share the news with him and it was a great moment that we shared as I shared the news with him.”
In less than five months, Green will be the 16th name in a list of players to be enshrined at UofP Stadium. As a member of the Cardinals’ broadcast team, he will have ample chances to see his name in the rafters, and every fan who enters the building after Week 4 will have an opportunity to learn more about one of the franchise’s best players.
But for all the things Green was good at, there was apparently one thing he was not: negotiating.
For six years of his career, Green was his own agent and once as his contract was running out, he went to speak with Bill Bidwill about not playing out his option and instead signing a new contract.
“So I said, ‘You know what, Mr. B., I’m looking for a raise, actually. I think that I’ve played well, blah blah blah,'” Green recalled. “And he looks at me and he says, ‘Roy, you’re overpaid right now.'”
Green said he wanted to laugh at the time but had to keep a straight face because, you know, he was negotiating.
“In a few minutes when I got outside the office, man, I was dying — I couldn’t wait to tell the guys what he had told me,” Green recalled.
Now 58, Green said there are plenty of fond memories from his time in the NFL and with the Cardinals. On Wednesday, he seemed to enjoy talking about them all.
Aside from a Week 17 loss to the Washington Redskins in 1984 that kept the team out of the playoffs, Green said his biggest disappointment is not winning a championship in Arizona.
“I love it. I love the way the fans received us when we came here, they gave us everything we needed,” he said. “The support — they’re very, very good to me. I love being in this community. There’s no other place I want to be, and this is the place to be, for sure.”
Come Oct. 2, he will never leave.
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