Hall of Fame CB Darrell Green to have No. 28 jersey retired by Washington Commanders

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What Darrell Green considers the highest honor of his Hall of Fame career finally caught up to one of the NFL’s fastest players of all time.

The Washington Commanders are retiring Green’s No. 28, the organization announced on Thursday. The heralded cornerback, who spent his entire 20-year career and won two Super Bowls with the franchise previously known as the Redskins, becomes the fifth player in Washington’s history to receive this honor.

“The National Football League said I was (one of the) greatest 100 (players of all time),” Green told The Athletic this week. “The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the writers (selection committee) said I was a Hall of Famer. But this is my family saying this. The people I live with. Who I work with, that I was a part of that’s saying … we want to honor you at the highest level.”

The 28th and final first-round selection in the 1983 NFL Draft out of Division II Texas A&I (now Texas A&M–Kingsville), Green went from a small-school mystery to setting the NFL record for most games played by a defender (295), registering a Washington-best 54 interceptions and becoming arguably the greatest player in franchise history.

“For 20 years, Darrell Green gave everything he had to this organization and fan base. Even after retiring from the burgundy and gold, he remained committed to giving back to this community, which to this day holds him in the highest regard,” said managing partner Josh Harris in a statement about the Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient. “No one on our team will ever again wear No. 28. Thank you, Darrell, for embodying what it means to be a Washington football player, both on and off the field.”

The organization, led by alumni director Tim Hightower, and Green’s wife of nearly 40 years, Jewell, pulled a fast one on the seven-time Pro Bowl selection and the speediest player of his era earlier this month.

Green, 64, was invited to the headquarters in Northern Virginia ostensibly to record promotions for the team ahead of the annual NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday. After reading his lines and being told job well done, Green was asked if he could tack on a bit more. Rather than talking out loud about the draft, he ended up saying something else.

“I actually read about Darrell Green being presented with this honor,” he said. “It was a mic-dropping, tear-jerking moment.”

More emotions followed when his family, including his 10 grandchildren, entered the room. Former teammate and current Washington executive Doug Williams, Harris, limited partners Mitch Rales and Magic Johnson, an athletic contemporary of Green’s and team president Jason Wright, were also there to see the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee overwhelmed.

Green joins Sammy Baugh (33), Bobby Mitchell (49), Sonny Jurgensen (9) and Sean Taylor (21) as the only players for the historic franchise to have their jerseys retired. The official ceremony will take place during the 2024 season.

Green will take part in Washington’s draft events by announcing the team’s second-round pick on Friday night in Detroit. He will also greet fans from the stage at the team’s draft party on Saturday.

The four-time first-team All-Pro selection recalled being “scared to death” after former general manager Bobby Beathard went “against all naysayers” to draft the 5-foot-8 cornerback in the first round. Green wasn’t only entering the NFL and joining the reigning Super Bowl champions. The player, who set a record of 19 consecutive seasons with an interception, later starred for the 1987 and 1991 title teams and the 1983 NFC champions.

Washington has not advanced past the playoff divisional round or won 11 regular-season games in a given campaign since, meaning whoever the Commanders select in this year’s draft won’t enter with the exact lofty team expectations as “when football was really at a different level,” Green said. “Which is where we’re headed back to. This is where we’re headed back to. Fans, I’m telling you, we’re heading back.”

Who will argue with the player who performed at a superhero level on the field and in the community but humbly compares himself to Clark Kent?

“I’m just a guy,” Green said during a 2021 interview upon being named the 88th greatest NFL player by The Athletic. “I just worked down the street and lived down the street. I’m in the neighborhood, playing with kids and helping kids. Oh, and then on Sunday, then I go and play pro football.”

The Texas native maintained that mindset after learning of his jersey retirement. While fans or reporters may have wondered what took so long, Green said that’s not how he thought.

“Goodness. I mean, goodness, that’s huge … but not overdue in my mind,” Green said this week. “I’m just grateful that I had a great career, had a lot of fun, provided for my family and was able to have an impact on the community — and even beyond that. And this is, yeah, this is the next level.”

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time is on sale now. Order it here.

(Photo: Jamie Squire / AllSport)

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