Former NFL running back Ahman "Batman" Green appeared on Front Row Seat. We talked about his early life growing up in Los Angeles and then moving to Nebraska where he went to high school, and then played for the University of Nebraska. He also discusses the ups and downs of his professional career. Plus, how gaming has been a thread throughout his entire life and is now the focus of his post-football career.
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Here are the show notes along with a transcription of the interview:
Episode Title: Ahman Green
Episode Description: With a strong family support, alongside his passion for competitive sports, Ahman shares his sports journey, NFL career wins and obstacles as a pro athlete. He shares his surefire action lists of goals and work ethics as now a college coach pro gamer.
Guest Information: Ahman Green, former American football running back who played 12 seasons in the National Football League, never thought being an athlete and gamer would be a "cool thing" that would catch on. He is now the Head Coach of eSports at Lakeland University in Wisconsin.
- Childhood and interest in pro gaming
- Moving cities and the Cali kid
- High School football varsity journey
- Goal setting and colleges recruiting
- Playing for Nebraska
- 1998 NFL Draft by Seattle Seahawks
- Trade to Green Bay Packers
- Retirement from football
- Entering eSports world, coaching, and broadcasting
- Ahman's work ethics
Shane: Hello and welcome. I'm your host, Shane Mercer and this is Front Row Seat, part of the Millions Podcast Network. Like, subscribe, listen, download, follow us on all the socials at frontrow.pod. And our guest today, former NFL running back and a Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer now turned eSports coach Ahman Green. Ahman, welcome. Thanks for joining us, man.
Ahman: Thanks Shane. Thanks for having me.
Shane: I've got a lot of ground I want to cover with you because your career is just fascinating. I've got so much I want to talk to you about as far as your NFL career goes and now your post-NFL career, which is still centered around a game or many games, which is really, really cool and I think pretty awesome. So we've got a lot to get to. So why don't we just dive right into it.
First, I just want to get some background on you, you're from the Omaha, Nebraska area, born and raised, you even played your college ball there. Talk to me about what it was like growing up in Nebraska.
Ahman: Growing in Nebraska, I was there probably until I was three. So that age was with my mom, my two older brothers and my older sister. And I said that's where the path to football and competitive sports started because I started getting beat up by my older brothers, even though they were way older, they're in high school when I was born. So they were babysitting and beat me up at the same time, which is a good thing because it taught me to be tough, it taught me that I got to earn stuff, they taught me how to tie my shoes, but and also they taught me pain.
I remember one of my brothers telling me when I was like, they were really in high school and babysitting one day that they were playing around the living room, swinging me around and I was like having fun, but just unfortunately dislocated my shoulder. My mom came home to a crying baby boy, was like, “What's wrong with him?” He just located his shoulder by accident. And so when my mom examined me, she accidentally popped it back inside, didn't know it took me to the hospital and the doctor said, oh you must have popped it back in, he'll be okay, it might be really sore, he may not move a lot. But I guess I held up quickly from that and that's kind of like my path on to playing sports and being competitive, working hard, that's where it began to be like, two older brothers, they taught me how to tie my shoe. The story was I was tying my shoe and having trouble with it and my brother showed me how to do it one time and I still obviously had to figure it out. Then he said to me after about 5, 10 minutes, he saw me struggling, he goes, “How about I give you a dollar, you get that shoe tied in 10 minutes.” And as soon as he said that was like within 5 minutes ahead of time, boom. And I was like, all right, there we go.
So after about age three, me and my mom moved out to California. Before I was born, my mom and my brothers and sisters had moved back and forth. My mom had a love of the weather and we have family out there too. So finally when I became like 5, 6 years old, we moved out there. And we kind of bounced around the Los Angeles area, Glendale, Pasadena a little bit area, and then south central Inglewood area. Then we finally settled in a little, I call it a little oasis because you've ever been to Los Angeles, especially in the mid-80s you had the game situation going on. But in this little oasis in the middle of south central Crenshaw area was a place called Leimert Park. And so we moved into that area with myself, my mom, and my stepdad.
That was kind of like the proving ground growing development of me again as a kid, elementary school, middle school but playing traditional sports football, baseball, basketball. But then also that's when the video games started for me. My dad was in the IT working at a company called Norfolk Aviation and he would on times bring a computer home to fix it. And I would be over his shoulder, he has the soldering iron fixing the wires, making sure they're going into the right place fixing on the motherboard. And I remember the first time he brought home a computer, it was actually the Apple II and it's probably almost half the size of our table. It was huge. And he fixed it. And then he said, “Hey, yeah, you looking over my shoulder. Go check here, here's the power button, press that button to turn it on and I want you to test it for me.”
And so I turned it on, it was a couple of games on there, a couple of programs. One was Carmen San Diego. The other was Oregon Trail. He's like play the games, whatever. I don't care what you do, just test it and make sure it doesn't shut off or what have you. And I did that, I played the games and I said dad, thumbs up. So I was officially a computer tester, game tester at around age six and even at that time we had already had the ColecoVision in the house. So I was playing Zaxxon and Donkey Kong religiously and I had it to a point where I could probably beat Zaxxon in about an hour. All the stages I could just walk through them. It took all about an hour. I said being good, having good grades, not getting a whole lot of trouble because I learned from my brother and sisters, they got in trouble all the time. So I was like, all right, I'm not going to do what they did. So I was able to get rewarded by getting, The Nintendo I say right around 7, 8 years old and that was the first time I blocked to have it. I remember having Mike Tyson punch out Legend of Zelda.
Ahman: Yeah, Super Mario Brothers, Ten Yard Fight was my first official game and then Techno Bowl came later and then Madden after that. So that was the start of me being a competitor. I was playing flag football, I was playing baseball, I was playing a little basketball, and then I would play at school during recess and lunch. But then once homework was done, once, all my chores were done, I had a Saturday morning, watch my cartoons and I put in Legend of Zelda or put in Donkey Kong or play Techno Bowl or something like that. And it just became part of my daily ritual of making sure that I gained one or two hours if I could, if I didn't have a whole lot going on. And, that's kind of the start of it to where I started to grow up playing sports and it was more the competitive side because sports and eSports and video games are all neck and neck because it's all about winning and losing and how you deal with that, how you adjust to a better player in the game and a better team, what you're going to do to try to adjust to get the win or just try to stay in the game if you're playing against a really good team. So that was stuff I learned.
Shane: It sounds like you were a pro gamer before you were a pro football player.
Ahman: I would say probably because like my friends in my neighborhood in California, we did. We competed. I know for Double Dribble, I remember it was a rule that we all can only go in the corner like once per half because if you go in the corner and hit the three point, it was like automatic, so we can only use it once or twice. We had a brief set of rules like that because guys were abusing it going in there every transition down the court. They will go in the corner and hit the automatic three, it's like, hey man, come on, we got to have a rule. Everybody don't know how to get to that get to that corner.
But yeah, it was something that was there because I didn't obviously didn't know the future, but I'm like, man I love sports. I love being a competitor, competing against my friends or just anybody that wants to play a game and maybe one day this will be something. It's always in the back of my mind, but I knew football was going to be there, a new baseball was going to be there because I watched NFL teams. I lived in LA so I had the LA Raiders, I had the LA Rams, the Lakers, the Clippers. So I knew that was going to be around a long time. As a kid I developed some goals and looking towards the future like, hey, I want to be a pro athlete. I want to either be a football player or baseball player. I love both sports when I was a kid, I played both sports as a kid. That was kind of like my motivation all the way through elementary, middle school, high school and then on to college and then finally got drafted once I came out in Nebraska in 1998.
Shane: You have this back and forth between California and Nebraska. Two very different places.
Ahman: Very, yeah.
Shane: So at what point did you go back to Nebraska?
Ahman: So we went back when I was about to be a freshman high school and the reasoning behind that was, I grow up in the Los Angeles area. Like I said, a lot of gang activity. It was interesting that the gang members would see me on the street. If they knew me, they'd be like, “Hey man, that's a ma. He's playing football, he's good, he's a good kid. Let him go, let him –” Basically let him pass. They didn't bother me. They didn't let me try to influence me. So, that was part of the streets. I would tell family and friends that would come visit us. I said, hey, you can't wear this color like this color I got right here back in the day, this blue, I couldn't flaunt it very wildly. I had to be careful with it and then be around the people I knew. So it was just part of what the area I grew up in.
But it was just something that once that happened and then other stuff was happening in sports and baseball and just learning how to get better, it was just a point of this is going to become my path. So my mom recognized that and she was like, “All right, you're going to be in high school. We have Crenshaw High School and Dorsey High School, probably the two prominent inner city high schools that were pretty good athletes coming out of there.” Darryl Strawberry came out of Crenshaw. Dorsey High School had quite a few football players. And so she was like, “All right, you're going to play high school sports.”
I had been to games as a kid with my friends at a high school game at Dorsey and had to hit the ground because they were shooting bullets flying at the game. And so my mom was like, “No, we're going back to the Midwest. You're going to play sports there.” And I'm like, “No,” I'm like, oh, I got friends. I've been here since I was 5, 6 years old. I’m 13 now. So I'm thinking, I got my life. I said, I got my friends, I got besties, I got a girlfriend, I got good weather. Here we go, I'm ready for high school and then we're going back to the Midwest, kid. I'm like, all right.
It took me about two weeks to get over it. And then I got reacclimated with my brothers and my sister and my families, my nieces and nephews, cousins. So I was like, alright, I'm back in the Midwest. Here we go. What helped me was getting back in football. We had, it was a little league football team there called the North Omaha Boys Club Bears. And my brother, he coached me. One of my brothers, Nicky, he coached me. He was my running backs coach and that helped the transition because it got me back in familiar territory. It got me back in a sport or doing something.
At that time moving back to Nebraska, I actually had my second genesis there. My uncle, one of my nephews, I gifted him my Nintendo my NES and I say, “Beatty Brandon, here you go. Take care of it. This is yours.” Saying you got all these games. I had the second genesis. I was moving on bigger Ultra Beasts and Madden and Sonic the Hedgehog. I was like, I'm living that life now. So you live this life, take care of that Metro and that Legend of Zelda for me. And so, it was like, all right, I'm not in control. Mom and dad runs the ship and I got to adjust to it.
Shane: You said you got over it in two weeks. It's funny how resilient kids are at that age. But I mean that is a tough age to make a move like that. You're going from inner city LA to Nebraska.
Shane: What was it like trying to make new friends at that age and sort of coming from where you came from and in a place like that?
Ahman: With the sport aspect of it, it was a lot easy because a lot of my friends were my teammates right away. So these guys, some of them obviously didn't know me because I didn't grow up around them. First day of practice was a basically like a tryout for the North Omaha Boys Club Bears because it was a boys club team. In California it was just every park had a team there were part of the Pop Warner Football League. And then they organized like from your weight class from Pee Wee, Mighty Mites, all the way up to Bantam, which was like 12, 13 year olds. And I started when I was a Pee Wee. And so by the time I get back to Nebraska, I'm a bantamweight. So I'm 12 13, I weighed about 150.
My brother, he's so geeked up. He's like, my little brother's here, I'm ready to coach him. And then we had to go to the store buy a helmet, get some shoulder pads for this tryout. And the only shoes I had was some baseball shoes, they end up throwing away my football shoes from California. So the only thing that was left was my baseball shoes. So I get them and I'm like, all right, I guess I got to wear them. And so I remember going out there and everything just kicked in from my competitiveness, from what I learned being in Los Angeles, it was really competitive. Everybody was fast, everybody was tough. Everybody hit hard. Obviously we're practicing running the ball, catching the ball, throwing the ball. We're showing to the coaches what positions they could put us in. And for everything I did, I just did it full speed, like I learned in Los Angeles. So when it came to tackling drills, I'm just nailing guys tattooing that boom, boom. And for me, it was just normal to wrap a guy up, take him to the ground, hit him square in his chest, and things like that. It was just and everybody was like, “Oh my God, oh my God. He hurt that kid. Oh my God, they're like, oh God, bless America, what's going on? Who is this kid?”
This went on for like an hour during the tryout because when I got the ball to, I'm running guys over, I'm dunking my shoulder, I'm choking guys, and they're like, “Who is this kid? Where is he from?” And my brothers, like, “Man, that's my little brother. He's been in California for the past 10 years,” and this and that and his chest heart just pumped, he's so excited. And so the people, the kids, some of the kids and some of the coaches that didn't know me before, they talked to my brother. He's like, “Oh man, I think he's from Cali.” So they're calling me the Cali kid, the California kid. That's the California kid right there. And I'm like in my head, I'm like, I'm not from California, I'm from here. I've just been gone for a little while. So it was like I said, it was just a time of adjustment. But then football helped me get right back in, back into it.
Shane: So clearly, you know, as soon as he got back that it probably became clear to the coaches, hey, this guy is going to be here, he's going to be a star at our school. You feel a lot of like pressure in high school to help that school and perform on the field?
Ahman: In the beginning a little bit. And so it got word out. My two older brothers who coached me and who taught me how to lift weights. Both of them were fantastic football players. My dad, I wasn't around my dad a whole lot, but he was a fantastic athlete and people knew his name. My dad's named David Green and he was fantastic. My two older brothers, Nicky and Jerry, Paul, even though we had different names, they knew the connection. They knew our mom, they knew our dads and dad’s coaches, and players, connecting dots, teachers, connecting dots that had the head coach of the high school I went to.
So I went to Omaha North, my first year back and coach Colvin, Herman Colvin was the head coach and of course, I mean right before school started, I got the phone call and he's like, “I want you to come out and play. Probably the backup to the running back now.” Because the running back at that time was actually going to eventually was going to be one of my college teammates, a guy by the name of Clinton Child and he was an all-state wrestler. He was an all-state athlete four years in a row. And so now he was a starter. So I was like, “I don't know. It was varsity.” So that's when the first pressure, like you said, pressure comes in. It's like, this is varsity high school football. I'm a freshman. I'm a freshman coming from California. All he hears is how good he's did in his first year in Little League -- and that Little League team that freshman year when they found out I was there, like I said, the coaches and players started conversating. So my freshman year, they asked me to play varsity behind Clinton. And so what happened when is kind of funny story too.
My older brother Jerry, he takes me to the high school All Star game right before to a day started. He just took me to watch a game. He just took me to watch a football game, watch the best high school athletes compete. That was the reason. That's how I took it. When I got there. I'm an athlete, a jock, people say we're not smart. I was a smart kid. Okay? So I'm watching future teammates unbeknownst to me, the quarterback Tony Veland [ph]. He played for the North Squad. He went to Omaha Benson four years later, he became one of my teammates. But unbeknownst to me, I'm watching him play and warm up. And I'm looking at Tony, I said, “Bro, that quarterback right there how much he weighs?” And he looks in the program. He's 6 foot 210. I'm like, he's a high school player. He's 6 foot 210? I'm like, oh man.
Shane: That's a big kid, man.
Ahman: I'm like, that's a quarterback? I'm coming from Little League. I'm coming from guys that are 155 pounds soaking wet. And I'm like, okay. I'm like, what position is he? Or that's the offensive tackle. And I'm like, how much the weigh? He's like, he's 255 right now. I'm like, oh dude. So I kind of took all the information in, watched the game and I'm driving home and I’m going bro, the high school coach has been calling, talking to dad trying to get me out for the team. I don't know if I'm going to play. I'm going to wait because I'm only like 155 soaking wet. So I'm putting these numbers together. I'm like, this is not going to calculate. This is not going to end well for me on the football field. He said, bro don't worry about it. Maybe talk to dad and maybe he could say some words to the coach.
So I got home and then I said, Dad, I don't know if I want to play high school yet. I'm little. I'm not big like these guys that we just watched in Lincoln Nebraska.” He's like, “All right, don't worry about it. I'll call him. He might be disappointed but you got to make the decision. You made the decision and I'm going to support you.” And I was like, cool. So he made that phone call and boom. My freshman year, I end up playing for the North Omaha Bears and we end up winning a city championship, we had a really good team. And so that's where the first type of pressure started. No regret that I didn't play my freshman year.
So I played my sophomore year, I end up starting at running back for North Omaha High School and we had a pretty good season. It was more of an even season were 5 and 4. Were a little on the small side because I think my sophomore year I gained 10 pounds. So I was 165 and one of my linemen was like 160. I'm like, and I just thought, “Bro, you're blocking for me. I weigh more than you.” We used to joke about it and practice. I'm like, “This is not supposed to how it works, but we'll make it work, we'll make it work.” So just transitioning, adjusting. But then also having, I say, the self-awareness of basically saying, “You know what, I'm not comfortable playing at this level yet my freshman year,” and having the support from my mom and dad and my dad taking over the reins to have that conversation with the coaches. I say that helped me. And my mom and dad was always there to support. So that made it a lot easier to play sports, but also build confidence in me. Then one day then I could sit down and just talk with the coach face to face and not have to ask my mom or my dad or one of my older brothers to say, hey, I need you to speak for me. Eventually that confidence will come out well before I graduated high school.
Shane: Right. And that takes a lot of maturity too to sort of recognize that, hey, you know what, I don't know if I'm ready for this. Especially in somebody who's a hardcore competitive person.
Shane: You do go on to play at the high level in high school and you become a big star and then I'm guessing at some point, you start thinking about college and where you want to go, but also where the offer’s coming from. You ended up not going too far from home. How did you end up at the University of Nebraska? Was it just a matter of it being close to home and you felt comfortable there?
Ahman: That's what it boiled down to in the end. But in the beginning I was wide open. Once I learned exactly what being recruited meant, my brothers, my dad sent me down one day and said, “Okay now colleges are starting sending you letters asking you questions, where you're at school because they'll come to the school too. Now it's time for you to kind of find out where you want to go. You're going to go to a school from an athlete standpoint that obviously they have a football program. And is that football program very good? Or are they average? Where they're at? From a school standpoint, do they have my major in Computer Science and Computer Technology, IT.
So I started thinking about all these things and once I started getting heavily recruited, it started a little bit my sophomore year but it came heavy right after my junior year going into my senior year. For the colleges, I’m fortunate enough to be honest and I'm not -- I just learned this phrase the other week, a humble bragging. So I'm humbly bragging right now about I literally had every school in the country sending me a letter or calling my high school for me. For me it was such a surprise because like you just mentioned not too long ago, I'm in Omaha Nebraska. How do they know about me? We didn't have social media. We didn't have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Vine. I didn't have huddle. I didn't have any of that. What did help though my grades dropped down a notch to about, I think I went from a 4.0 to about to about a 3.2, but then I kicked back up again to like a 3.7, 3.5 by the time I graduated. So that sophomore year I started getting all these letters. So I know my GPA’s there, I'm ready to play. But now it's like, all right, I got all these schools. Now, I kind of like got to get the fan boy out of me because I'm a college football fan. I had USC, Alabama, Miami, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Auburn. All these schools that I've seen on ESPN I've seen on Fox Sports, Notre Dame, Michigan, these players that I've seen play college ball at this school and then go to the pros.
So I'm like, all right, I got to not look at that and look at the stuff that the school is going to help me out, get a degree and play football. And my mom and dad taught me how to make goals for myself. And so I learned that my junior year and it went through short term, midterm, long term. The short term goals were like literally like little small goals, but daily, like wake up at 7 o'clock or get eight hours of sleep and do your chores every day. Take out the garbage, wash the dishes, clean your room, little stuff like that. And then midterm don't goals were like something within a week to a month away or pass my geography test with an A or study for it or pass this class with A. In track at school, make sure I qualify for districts or qualify for state.
And then the long term goal was like graduate high school, get a college scholarship. So those big goals were there. But then I wrote them down. And then the other trick was basically reading them every day. So I would read them in the morning when I wake up and then read them at night right before I go to bed. So that's why I was able to laser in where I wanted to go. And so just like the list of goals, I made a list of the schools. What I did, I took the top 25 teams and put them on the list. And then in the first five, Nebraska was in there, Arizona, Michigan, Notre Dame, I think Miami too and a few other big schools and I put in weather, college degree.
And then sport wise, what I did was I said for some of the schools from a football standpoint offensive scheme. Was it a pass offense or was it a run heavy offense or was it a balanced offense, run and pass? Because I'm a running back, you know. Make sure they have something that they're going to be able to use me and I could be effective and do what I do be a football player. So I did all that and made this chart out, pen and pencil and a ruler. It boiled down to Nebraska, Michigan, Notre Dame, Arizona and Penn State, they wanted me to verbally commit before I took my visit and I told the recruiting coach that I couldn't do that. I thought it was strange, I didn't want to lie to them because maybe I say I want to go there and then I take the trip there and I find out, I don't like it. Something about the campus, something about the coaches, I don't know, but I did make a visit to Nebraska, made a visit to Notre Dame, Michigan and Arizona Wildcats. It boiled down to Arizona Wildcats in Nebraska.
Arizona was on the list because it had my degree. It had my major. It had an offense that I could develop in and grow in. It had a pro style offense. And then obviously Arizona, you got great weather, it’s hot and Arizona itself is the next state over from California. So what I found out on my visit is that a lot of players that were either on my team as Little League in football or baseball, they were there on campus. So I knew them from Los Angeles. I'm like, “Hey man, what's up man? How you doing? I ain't seen you since Little League.” It's like, “Oh, this is sweet. It was like a homecoming.” So I'm like, alright, this might be the spot. But I told myself I'm not going to make a decision until I make all my visits. I'm going to go to every school and make a decision.
So Arizona was my first visit and then Nebraska was my third visit. So I had two more visits before that school. Like a lot of kids, I knew like I mentioned, I had guys I played against in high school that were on the Nebraska team when I took my visit and we're going to be there when I was there. And so that went boom, they were neck and neck. So basically the story behind that was when Nebraska was playing Miami in the Orange Bowl for the national title. I'm watching the game. I'm over a friend's house, cheering for the huskers to win and they're going back and forth with the hurricanes and right at halftime, right before halftime my mom called me and said, “Babe, you got to meet us at the hospital. Your stepdad just had a heart attack. He's okay. He's stable. But we're taking him to the hospital now. Meet us there.” So I jump in the car, I get over to the hospital there in downtown Omaha. And then I get there with my two older brothers, my sister, Tasha and we're just sitting there in the family room, just waiting. They told us to wait in the family room. And so of course we're waiting. My brother pop on the national title game. We watched the second half. That whole moment was kind of like my answer, how can I determine going to Arizona or going to Nebraska. And then boom, It was like right there. It hit me.
It was like, look, I'll be close to home. If something like this happens, I'm 50 miles from Omaha being in Lincoln. So I could jump on a highway, be home in an hour to make sure if anything like this, I can support the family or they could be there for me if something happens to me on the flip side as well.
Shane: Right. Funny how it just sort of comes to you in a moment like that, right? You have a whole system of how you're going to make this decision and everything, then all of a sudden it just comes in that unexpected moment.
Ahman: Exactly, exactly. And then, like you mentioned earlier, like pressure. Like the pressure that was going on during that time was me walking between classes in hallways. Hey man, you're going to Lincoln? You know, my friends, my classmates, people I didn't even talk to. “Come on. You need to go to Notre Dame. They're on TV every day. Lou Holtz is the head coach. Come on. You need to go to Wisconsin. Come on. You need to go to the University of Miami. They put out NFL players every year.” And I'm like, every day I'm sitting there walking with my backpack not talking to anybody. Hey, come here, Ahman. Hey, teachers too. “You're going to Lincoln?” I'm like, “I don't know, teach. I don't know.”
So the good thing was once I decided on Nebraska, I was like, good. It's over. I can stop getting asked all the questions about where am I going to school in the fall.
Shane: Right. And then of course, become a real hometown hero, right? Going to the University of Nebraska, you've been there and people know you. You have a really good run in Nebraska, two national championships.
Ahman: That was on the goal sheet. Me going in, I knew because everything was on TV, ESPN and watching the game, I knew what they had done previous years and this was the first national title in a long time. And then coach Osborne being there for the years and we still had the same talent just added me and a few other freshmen coming in, Chris Brown and Chad Kelsay and Tony Ortiz Frankie Veland [ph], a lot of guys that was with my class. So of course the question was, can you guys repeat? And so when practice started school started, that was the whole question. For me, it was just like I'm just two things, focus on school, focus on football, getting that playbook. I'm going to be the backup to Lawrence Phillips, Clinton Charles, Damon Benning and Jay Simms. I'm fifth running back on the depth chart. So I'm going to help out when needed. When they say Ahman you can get in there, then that's when I go. But until that time I'm going to play special teams and I'm going to do what I need to do to be a focal point on that team or just be somewhere in the locker room or somewhere on the field because I didn't really think before my season started my freshman year that I was going to play a whole lot to be honest because I was the fifth running back on the depth chart.
But we had things bounce around between players, guys got hurt. One of my good friends and teammates, Lawrence Phillips, God rest his soul, he got in trouble. Got suspended for six games and then Clinton Charles was the next starter. He tweaked his knee and then Damon Benning, he became the starter. He tweaked the hamstring and then Jay Simms it was a toss up between me and him started and they end up putting me in over him. And then that was probably around the sixth game of my freshman year. So I'm fresh out of high school and then now I'm starting running back from the number one team in the country.
And so the only pressure I felt for me was don't fumble the ball. But that was the same pressure I had every game. Like every time I got in as a running back it's like just don't fumble the ball so I kept it to that. Secure the ball.
Shane: Secure the ball.
Ahman: So think about, okay, I'm a freshman and I'm playing with Tommie Frazier. I'm playing on the number one team. The only thing I was worried about is hold onto the ball which I practice hard with every day. Coach Holtz that's got us ready. I played that first game as a starter. But I played every game prior to that because we were a powerhouse team. It's still astounding. I don't think we're going to see it again and we may see it with Alabama, they have done it. I don't know, but my freshman year, we averaged 500 yards rushing every game my freshman year.
Shane: 500 a game?
Shane: A lot of teams are lucky if they put up 500 yards of offense.
Ahman: I mean we have 500 just rushing and with passing, just add on another 100. It was like that, so I got a lot of carries before I became a starter. So being nervous, being uncomfortable kind of was gone after the first game. The first game I played in was our first game of the season, which was against Oklahoma State on ESPN on Thursday night football. We're the only game on. We're the number one team in the nation. And the night before that game, that's kind of when I had the most angst, the most nervousness. Right after our last meeting, I remember talking to my running backs coach Frank Solich and I said, coach. He kind of looked at me, he could kind of see I was a little nervous. He said, “Ahman, are you okay?” I said, “Yeah, I'm okay. I'm just a little nervous.” And he said, “What's up?” Said, “I'm just worried about not messing up, hold onto the ball, doing things the right way like we've been practicing.” He said for a freshman and I'm standing training camp and I'm not just saying that. I mean you were really good. You've learned everything, the proper pace. You learned the technique of doing certain things that we teach and we coach up in this team and this offense.
He said, you're being nervous is just your body and your mind telling you that you're ready to play because you're thinking about the situations that's about to come at you, the ball being snapped, guys trying to tackle you. You're thinking about all that, right? I'm like, yeah. He says, yes, you're just getting ready for the game mentally. So the physical part is going to be the easy part. It’s the mental part now that that you're now going to rehearse over and over in your head. That's why we watch film, that's why we have the walkthrough practices. So every see things, so then when we're on the field, you don't have to read, you just react to it. You don't have to think, there's no thinking, it's just, boom, boom, boom. You make some move, you tackle, you run, you jump whatever and so you're ready. And so just think about that and it kind of calmed me down a lot.
And so when I woke up that next morning, I thought about it and say, yeah I'm not starting, I'm the backup. I may get in the game, I may not. And if, I do which it was at the time, I was pretty much garbage time because the game was over, we were going to win and maybe your people are watching, maybe not. But just go out there and have fun. You're playing on TV. Have a good time and that's what I did. I end up scoring my first touchdown in the fourth quarter. A guy that we were on the USA Today, All-American Team R. W. McQuarters, he played at Oklahoma State and we were roommates when they invited us all down to Disney for the USA Today parade All-American like photoshoot, hangout type trip. He was trash talking me, we're roommates and he's trash talking me. “I'm going to Oklahoma State, we play on the first game of the season,” and he's like we're going to beat you all down. I'm like, “Okay, well I'm glad that you know that.” And I'm like, all right, I never was a trash talker. I'm not even a good trash talker today. The whole time we stayed together, he's like, “Oh yeah we're going to destroy, we're going to beat you all down, you all are coming to Stillwater, we're going to win.” And I'm like, “Okay, alright. We'll see.”
And so it was funny, it was my first carry that I got in the late 3rd, 4th quarter. He was a corner and it went to his side and I went past him so fast that I almost didn't realize it was him until when I looked up at the screen, I watched the replay. So I got the toss and I kind of juked and gave him a quick step for him and juked him and ran up the field for my first carrier for 20 yards and got pushed out of bounds. And it wasn't until after the game and kind of clicked in my head, oh that was R. W. And that's all I kind of said. I didn't say nothing to him after the game. It's just like there's something that goes back to my Little League days. My older brothers told me never trash talk when you're playing football because it's a physical sport and you will be eventually that guy that gets lit up. And you trash talking somebody, it's going to just make it feel worse or make it feel better for them when they hit you. So don't trash talk. And so that's like I just kind of play my game, shut my mouth.
And so when I saw that and he did that to me, I just kind of chuckled in my head from what I learned with my brother and I'm like, yeah, that's why you don't trash talk. Because I wasn't trying to intently run past him. It just so happened, where he was on that side I ran by him and now that happened. Now fast forward to me playing my first game against Missouri as the starter, it was just like, all right, all that stuff that I've been through mentally, physically now, mentally I think I could do this. And I did, it was just a great experience. And then now, I was pretty much leading the team. As a young kid I'm 18 years old still. I was a young freshman. I didn't turn 19 until February of 1996. So I'm still 18, going through the ranks and I'm starting this game. And the only thing on my mind at that time with everything I just talked about was like, just hold onto the ball. I said, that's all I need to do. Hold onto the ball and run. Run from the big guys that’s trying to tackle me. That's about it.
Shane: Did you? Were you able to hold on? No fumbles.
Ahman: Yeah, no fumbles. No fumbles, one touchdown up until that game. I had 100 yards rushing and all the games that I did not start in, I was a backup, still direction for 100 yards. My first game as a starter, I had 96 yards and like 15 carries, 96 yards and a touchdown. So I just kind of like, I'm like, I did all that? And I still didn't get 100 yards as a starter? Like just messing with myself, teasing myself.
Shane: Hey that’s a pretty efficient game.
Ahman: It is. Like I said the big guys up front, they were mean. I remember my first time in the huddle, I got Aaron Graham, Aaron Taylor, Eric Anderson, I come in and they say, “Hey freshman, we're about to get the ball, put it in the end zone right now.” I say, “Okay, that's what we're going to do.” I was like scared to death. They're yelling at me telling me that they're going to score the touchdown. I'm like, are they going to run the ball? And then Tommie's like, boy, calm down. I'm going to give you the ball. You're getting the ball, you score it. Don't drop it. I was like, okay, Mr. Frazier. You got it. It was like, okay. I'm a big tie football now. Let's go.
Shane: So take me back to the draft, the 1998 NFL draft.
Ahman: I say everything that I've explained about my childhood, it helped me get through that. It still was still tough. Because before the draft, a month before the draft, I had people in the NFL world and at the time I didn't know like who it was just talking to my agent. Dude, I'm just getting messages relayed through my agent that I was going to go potentially in the first round. I was going to go to either, not a team, but I was going to either go as the between the 25th pick or the 31st pick, somewhere in the late first round. So I was like, you know what, that's a pretty good spot to come out as a junior running back and get drafted and then start a career. That's a pretty good spot to get drafted.
Since then, I think that part is way better because I got drafted in the third round. And this is when the draft was all in one day. From the time it started, I see Randy Moss, Ryan Leaf, Peyton Manny, Courtesy Enos, all these guys that I knew of was just like, wait a minute, I was told first round, why am I going third round? What happened? So in the back of my head, I'm like, what's going on? That wasn't valid information. If I had the right information, I probably would've stayed in college one more year to develop more, to play my senior year, real pressure kind of hit me because this was the real world. I left my college life, I'm left in my pursuit to get my college degree to then start this career and now first off the jump I'm told something that wasn't true. So it hurt me, it frustrated me and eventually got me to a point I was crying, I was upset. I didn't talk to nobody. I didn't tell nobody. So I was happy I got drafted at the end of the day. My older brother Jerry was with me, the agents that represented me they were there. At that time when I got drafted, I just spent time with them. Regardless, 3rd, 4th round, 5th round, 7th round, hey, you're in the NFL now. Let's go, let's celebrate. But when I got back to my apartment that I was staying there in Newport Beach, finally, when I went to bed, probably 10, 11, 12 o'clock, I got into bed and just started crying because it's just like, okay, I thought this was going to happen but this happened, something totally different happened.
Again, young rookie and this is the real world/ The real world is anybody could say anything, anybody could do things, and it's okay. I'm like to me, that wasn't okay. Like to me, if I'm telling the kid coming out of college, that's going to change his life, this is where you're going to really get drafted. Be honest, I can take the truth, but if you tell me this and something else happened, it's like, oh man, so it's discouraging. But just like a lot of stuff like I said before that I've faced in my life. You know what, I'm going to use this as motivation. I'm going to use this as a learning experience and you know what, this team that I'm going to the Seattle Seahawks, they don't know what they got, what they're going to find out is they got a really solid guy, a really solid player. My whole goal then was in 10 years I'm going to be the all-time leading rusher for the Seattle Seahawks and that city, that state is going to be like, we're glad we drafted him in the third round. That was my mindset going into Ricky minicamp after I got past my boo hooing and you know what was me. I said, Ahman, you in the NFL, this is what you work for. You know what, all those 31 teams that passed you over two times, you know what you get to do? I get to run them over when we play them in your first couple of years in the NFL. And that's what I'm going to do. Every time we play against the Chiefs, the Dolphins, the Packers, Broncos, the Patriots, they're going to feel me. They didn't want to draft me. They found I wasn't a fit for some reason, even if they needed a running back, no problem. They're going to find out, they should have drafted me and that's basically was my motivation.
I came into training camp that whole year in 1998 with a chip on my shoulder. Like I'm going to show everybody that I'm an NFL caliber running back and prove everybody wrong because now I'm getting Mel Kiper, NFL Network, NFL Live. I got all these commentators, these former players judging me saying you know what type of player I'm going to be when they don't even know. And I'm like, I can't wait. I like when people say I can't do something, I love it. And so I used that to motivate me into what everybody saw. In Seattle and once I got the Green Bay it was still there. The difference between Green Bay and Seattle was I had a few teammates in Seattle that were like truly true teammates that supported me, we backed each other up, we helped each other grow together and then I had a lot more in Green Bay. So that was the difference. I had like almost the whole team in Green Bay. As soon as I got traded there, the guys were like, hey man what's up? Come hang out. We're at the restaurant, we are at the bar getting some wings watching the NBA playoffs. Come hang out with us and I'm like, they barely know me. I only got that like reach out with in Seattle like once or twice. But in Green Bay was like instantly. When I got traded, we had a mini camp and right away. I had Dorsey Levens the guy that's the starter, his backup, he's reaching out to me, hey man, let's hang out. Just get to know one another because we're going to be playing with each other to make sure we support each other and be the best that we can be on the football field. So that was the big difference between Seattle and Green Bay. And then once I got to Green Bay, that was one of the reasons that support system and that togetherness as a teammate that helped me develop into the eventual player that became in Green Bay.
Shane: I want to ask you about that, that trade from Seattle to Green Bay. So that trade was Ahman Green for a guy who I'm sure is a great guy, Fred Vinson, not exactly a guy though who left his mark on the leak. And so, he got drafted ahead of you in the second round. This trade is taking place, Ahman for Fred along with a couple of mid round draft picks on either side. When you look back at that trade, what are your reflections on it and which side came out on top?
Ahman: Obviously from a stat standpoint, we know I came out on top and I'm not bragging there. I mean just saying the facts. When it happened, it was like, I had no idea. I didn't know I was getting traded. It just, boom. It popped up on ESPN. The person who saw it first was my stepdad. He said, he called me up on my phone. He said, “Son, I'm watching NFL Live. You're about to be a Packer.” And I'm like, huh? He's like, “Turn to ESPN right now.” And so I go in the house, I turned on the TV and it's Trey Ringo. He's like, NFL Live about to go up, but just a quick announcement. Ahman Green was traded to Green Bay for Fred Vinson in the 4th, 5th round conditional pick... I'm like, my mouth just drops like, really? My dad's like, “Did you know?” I'm like, I had no idea.
So I got on the phone with my agent, my agent again, he didn't know either. He's like, no, Ahman. I don't know. And so it's just now at this time being older being 2.5, 3 years in the league, in NFL, the adjustment was more obviously from all the adjusting I had to do as a kid growing up from Little League to moving from California to Nebraska switching from high school to Little League and in college, all that, it just wasn't more fluid transition. I was like, all right. I said, the only thing about that trade was I got to go back to the Midwest. I'm like, no. Seattle was a great area, great weather, great people, great town. And I knew that city eventually once we got a team of football team there, that it was going to be a special city. I saw that when they switch stadiums and got Russell Wilson in there with Marshawn Lynch and the legion of boom. I knew then as a player, even though I wasn't with them then I was like, that city is going to eventually going to have a team to win a Super Bowl because they want to champion. They won a Super Bowl champion and they end up getting one. So that was the only thing I was like, man, I got to go back to the Midwest. I got to go back to cold weather. Blizzards and all that stuff, but it was a little blessing in disguise, for sure.
Shane: So, I want to do something here. I thought this was great. And this kind of really sort of symbolizes your time in Green Bay. It's a, it's a social media post that you recently put up. So I'm going to do a screen share here.
Shane: Alright. And we're going to take a look at this together.
Ahman: Yeah, I just posted that too. I had a feeling it was going to be that.
Shane: For anyone who doesn't know what you did in Green Bay.
Ahman: As you see in the caption there, I said I was on stream. We were just talking football, because I have a stream, welcome in any question. It was a football question and we were talking about it and then somebody brought up the fact that like, Ahman, do you remember how many touchdowns you had? And I said, yeah, it's around 60, 65 touchdowns, career wise. It's like, where's your footballs at? Because they figure they're not behind me. I'm like, no, they're upstairs on the shelf. I said, you know what I’ll post it. And so that's what got that post up. They asked me about it and I was like, “I have a shelf, you could see it, I'm going to do it tonight.” And that's how that came about.
Because I said, I don't brag about what I did. I don't talk about what I did. But when a fan was asking a simple question like where your footballs at? Did you keep them all? I said I kept majority and it's like when I counted them up, it's around, I have right at 60. So the only ones that probably didn't get at the time, maybe Seattle and Houston. But and then a whole bunch of the game balls as you saw that had stats on it and fun stuff like that. So yeah, a little humble brag there.
Shane: That was like a great symbol of what you did in Green Bay and what you did for that city. Talk to me about those years. It was seven straight seasons in Green Bay. You tore up the league.
Ahman: Yeah, it was just all those goals, all that time, effort, support from family, support from teammates coming together. What I did was once I got there and was able to really play, where I was like giving the keys to the car, like, Ahman, your our starter because once I got there, I was just like a teammate. I was supporting Dorsey. He was a starter, he was the number one guy. It wasn't going to be my job until he retired or something happened with injuries or whatever. So that was my mindset.
That first season in 2000, about halfway through the season, he had a knee spring against Miami early in the game and I took over the rest of the game and then and the rest of the season from that standpoint and every game after that time he went out. I was never looking at it as I was the starter. So when I would get interviewed, they're like, “Ahman, what do you feel that you're a starter now?” I was like, no, I'm not the starter. I'm just taking the spot until Dorsey gets back. He's rehabbing his knee. He should be back here in a few weeks. So that was always my intro into a question. I said, no, I'm just a backup. I'm not the starter yet. In my head and still today I believe that no person that is a starter loses their job off an injury unless it's a major injury and he had a little injury and it just took longer than it should to come back. Then I think coach Sherman had to make a decision to get somebody back there that's going to be a starter and then then he named me a starter probably after three or four weeks of playing. We both were okay with that. And as a pro, you got to take that because we were friends and it was tough. It was tough to see him and know that it wasn't the fact that he beat me out or I beat him, that was more of an injury thing. So, that's a real thing because your friends and so that could be an awkward thing, it could be uncomfortable, but the friendship we had was above that.
So he supported me, he helped me get ready just like I helped him once I got there. I remember Mike Sherman was our head coach, he was the offensive coordinator in Seattle, so I had to help with some of the verbiage that he had brought over to Green Bay in the offensive playbook. So he asked me, he's like Ahman, what does this mean? He said, I kind of know what this means, but what is this? So I'm helping him out. In my head, I'm like wait a minute, I said this is so dope, I'm helping my guy out, this guy I watched win the Super Bowl against the Patriots years ago and now I'm helping him with some plays. I'm a teammate for this guy, so I'm like alright I'm going to be the best team that I could be. So he supported me once I became a starter.
From that standpoint, it was just me just a few years older from those Little League days, high school, college days is like I have the same goals in front of me. Now let's execute. Now I have guys around me that has done it at a high level. I have Dorsey have William Henderson, I have Brett Farve, I have Frankie Winters, Mike Flanagan, Marco Rivera, Chad Clift and Mark Tauscher, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Leroy Butler, Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson. These guys, they won a Super Bowl. Well some of those guys won, not all of those guys. But some of those guys already have been to two Super Bowls, won one, lost one.
So basically when I got in that huddle that first time during minicamp after that trade, I said to myself, alright, Ahman, now we got to bring that A game every day. My mentality was I got to practice perfect. I got to practice hard because I know these guys around me are doing the same thing.
Shane: Yeah, Yeah. I mean, and you brought it and you brought it for seven seasons. I think you became a free agent and you ended up signing in Houston.
Ahman: So I never haven't really told this story a whole lot because it was something that bothered me just like with the draft and all that stuff. Serious moments of my life. Free agency came up and he called with me saying, hey, we got the Texans interested in you, we got the Denver Broncos interested in you, we have the Ravens interested in you. And I'm like in my head, I'm like, I'm not going nowhere. I know I need to be. I need to be right here in Green Bay. Not a lot of teams want to run it back this far into late into their career. I'm comfortable here. I know the town, I know the city, the people know me. My teammates even more important my teammates know me, they love me, I love them. I know I got support here with my family and friends, my teammates and all that. So I'm like, why should I even go on a trip to visit another team? Oh well it's a part of the business. You know, you need to do this to help yourself and your market for yourself. It's okay. I understand that I get the business side of this. I'm like, but from what I know this is not really a hard decision to stay right here because this offense, this team is part of it it's built around me and Brett and the run game in the past game, I knew all that.
So somehow he convinced me to get on the plane to Denver had stake and some wine with the GM there. And then while I'm on my visit in Denver, Houston Texas sent a private jet up to Denver to pick me up, picks me up down to Houston and I'm like, I'm just doing the trip because my agent asked me to. In my head I'm like, I'm going to be a gentleman, I'm going to be professional, shake hands, listen, but I know where my mind, my heart is set. It’s on Green Bay.
So when I get to Houston we're talking with Rick Smith at that time, the GM and I'm getting dinner stakes having a good time, talking business, talking how I would have fit in the team. I think I might have met Kubiak, who was going to be the head coach then. We got to the point of talking about a contract and I'm like, whoa. In my head, I'm like, wait a minute. I want to go home and think about it. I don't want to just be make a quick decision here on the spot. But that's what ended up happening. And I was just kind of like throwing off. My agent was telling me that Green Bay had not offered me anything or there was nothing on the table yet. That really didn't matter because I knew I wanted to be here in the first place, but I found out years later that that wasn't the case that they actually did offer him, but he didn't say nothing to me. That part was just like another heartbreaking moment that I'm in a situation in Houston for two years where I didn't want to be. It was sad for me, it was sad for that organization, those players, the city, they didn't see the Ahman that Green Bay saw.
I said this several times during that season. I said this is not the Ahman that was in Green Bay because I end up getting the knee injury early in the season. It was a bone bruise and I didn't even know it and I was playing on it and it was serious pressure $24 million contract, you need to play. I'm like, I can't play. My knee is sore. I could barely get up out of a chair and you want me to go play? And so that was the pressure they were putting on me. And of course, being a player that I am, I'm a team player. So I'm like, all right. I'll give it all I got. Do what I can do. And I play two games on it. Then I had to say, look, I can't play on this. So they sent me down for about a month or about two weeks, three weeks. It should have been longer. I came back against the Nnamdi Asomugha, making a tackle and he hit right on my bone bruise. I felt like my knee just blew up. I'm thinking that my ACL is gone, that I'm out for a long time now. Me and my wife were Googling my symptoms and just find out it was just a bone bruise, had a couple of doctors look at it. Then I kind of just put my foot down and said, look, I'm not playing until this knee is right. The next day after I said that they put me on IR. I'm just like, this is the first time in my career that I've been on IR for any reason. I played through so many injuries, I've had ankle injuries that the doctor said, how are you playing on this? That was when I was in college at Nebraska. I had hip pointers, I had shoulder ACL separation, grade one that I should have been playing with and I played with it and now I'm on IR when I know if you just give me time to heal, I'm going to be good. But that along with my body and mind, I had all the mental stuff of the team trying to get me on the field.
My teammates, my new teammates thinking I'm this guy, this money guy that I'm just a big time. But I think I'm ignoring them because I remember after that season or after I was a Texan, I ran into some guys and they were looking at me and was like, Ahman, remember one day I walked past you in the hallway, man, you didn't even say nothing to me, bro. Like, what's up with that? I'm like, man, I made sure I said hi to everybody, especially my teammates. I said if I walked past you, if I didn't say nothing, that means I was somewhere else here because I had the stuff with the team going on. I say, but a lot of you all didn't know because I didn't say this to my teammates, my dad, we found out right before I got free agent down to Houston, we found out he had stage four terminal cancer, liver cancer. So I'm dealing with that. I'm dealing with the fact that my first wife putting all these nasty thoughts into my young kids mind at that time. They were 10 and five years old and so when I'm picking them up for the airport, they were just giving me hell along with being in a new city, being with a team that barely knows me and then now I'm getting the pressure of I got to play hard and play for this team where I could barely move my lead.
And so I had all that going on and the only thing that my teammates knew was the football stuff. They knew I was hurt and they knew that I didn't really get along with the team. That's it. They didn't know my dad was dying. They didn't know my ex-wife and my daughters were giving me hell at home. I kept that to myself. The only people that knew everything was my wife and my immediate family, my brothers and sisters that I grew up with. So like I said, I didn't want to bring that into the locker room because of my business, but I think I should have reached out to one of my teammates and said, hey man, this is what's going on with me for real. I got this going on, I got this going on. Can you understand that? I'm not just showing up just to show up or I'm not just here just to say I'm better than you because people thought I was thinking that. I'm like I'm not better than anybody. People thought, oh you made all that money, you’re better than you can show up when you want to show up.
I'm like this game of football is the best team sport game in the world. And if I ever think I could play this game by myself, you don't know me. All 53 players, offense, defense, we play together to win. And so that's where I knew that situation from the start, being lied to by my agent about being offered by the Packers. It's just followed me through the whole two years and unfortunate like I mentioned to the fans of Houston, the football fans of that area, they didn't get to see good football for me. I wasn't the best I could be. I own that. It took me a while to get over it. It took me about 5, 6 years after from that time to get over because I knew I wasn't me. I wasn't the football player that I was in Green Bay or in Seattle even then that I know I could have been in Houston winning anywhere as you know watching sports. You don't get it handed to you, you got to take it, you got to earn it. And I was coming in with that mindset, but then when everything going on it just derailed that because at the end of the day I found out I wasn't Batman, I wasn't Black Panther, I wasn't no superhero that I'm human. And the human side of me took over that then two years I was in Houston.
Shane: And then, so you end up going back to Green Bay in 2009. Did you know at the time that that was going to be your last season playing in the NFL?
Ahman: Not 100%. I was being hopeful that this could be the time where they picked me up and I show them what I can still do and I'm here for at least two years, at least two years, maybe three. So I was keeping it hopeful that this will be the start of me retiring in 2012 or 2013. So I played it hopefully optimistically, I practiced hard, got back in football shape once they signed me. That time there I had a great time. It was what I knew I needed to be a part of back in 2007 before I went free agency to Houston.
Shane: And now you've got to think about life after football.
Shane: Entering the 20 teens and football's officially behind you.
Shane: Then what? Tell me about those years immediately after football.
Ahman: Being goal oriented like I was since a teenager, that transition was like I wanted to get it going like right away. So I was still working with the agent that lied to me. I called him up right away and I said I'm done. I said I want to get into coaching and I want to get into some broadcasting as well. So he's said, all right. So he got on the call, I may be called around some people. And then I started calling people that I knew from the NFL, other players that I know that transitioned into coaching and transitioned to broadcasting. Then NFL they have a coaching camp that you go to, they have NFL broadcasting boot camp you could go to.
So I started doing all that stuff. I started signing up for it just to get information. Obviously learned networking with people to find out where I can make that next move. So I went to the broadcasting boot camp and got taught, with certain analysts for ESPN, Fox Sports CBS, NFL network analysts, how to speak and how to research and how to get ready for a broadcast and then coaching as well. And I found out that I could speak well, I know I could do homework and research a team and I'm like, this is a lot easier than playing football because you're not getting beat up doing it. And then the coaching aspect of it was me playing all the sports growing up, football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, track, now it's just teaching the stuff that I remember coach is teaching me, you know how to block, how to run the ball, how to secure the ball, how to catch the ball, how to throw the ball.
So it's like oh I get to do that now. I get to do what my brothers did for me so I can now do what they did. So I'm like, oh I know this already, but now it's just about connecting the dots, networking with people, finding a coach or somebody that needs my skills and that role started back in 2012. So I did high school football, baseball, track, weightlifting from 2012 to about I say 8 or 9 years, about 2019. Before that though, that's when I got into the eSports side of it. I started networking with that and it came about because it's just a passion. Sometimes the former athlete, not just football, they don't know where they want to go. So I knew I could go coach, I knew I could broadcast, I knew I could maybe be an actor, have some fun there, but also when the passion of eSports and video games coming around. I was like, alright, let me try this here.
I had been going to Comic Con every year since 2009, my last year since 2010. Then I started doing the same thing and going to E3, I started the network. Before I think one of my trips I've made up a business card and I just handed it out to everybody that I ran into because I knew people at EA because they will always have me doing a photo shoot or something with EA sports, doesn’t matter. Then one of my guys that worked at the law firm that represented me, we both were gamers and so he had a connection with Ubisoft. So when they came out with new games, Rainbow Six, Assassin's Creed or and then he had a contact with Activision, so Call of Duty. So when they had launches of a game, I would get invited out to the launch and mostly in California and so I brought my business card with me and say, hey here, here's my card. Let me know when you got another event or anything you want help with. I know how to broadcast. I can be a spectator. I could just be somebody that can help out with the production on any level. I don't care if I'm just helping with wires and plugging up the monitors, I'll do it because I got to get my foot in the door.
I didn't feel I was above or below. If I just got to get your coffee, I'll do that. I said, I get it. And so going through that process, I was able to make connections and then that's where in like 2015, 2016, I meet a guy by the name of Larry Whitley [ph] who was a caster and then one of the voices of Mad and then I met another guy by the name of Greg [1:00:07] from the nonprofit side of it. But he's doing fundraising events, but he's doing eSports tournaments with former military troops along with athletes, football, baseball, basketball, hockey players playing, just playing games for fun with troops that are coming out of the military. They're coming with their families. They're dealing with PTSD, which I've always supported because both my brother, one brother was a cop. Another brother was in the army, my dad was in the army, so I supported that. So I was like, that's a no brainer. Let me go help out with that.
So traveling all around the country helping out his program, his foundation, but then able to get connected with EA with Microsoft to do these events. That's where my work ethic start adjusting and it's like all right now this is a different world now. This is not the weight room. This is not running sprints. This is not catching the ball. This is commentating. This is being prepared with the words that's going to come out of my mouth. Studying the game, studying the team that this team represents and what game. If they're playing Gears of War, Halo, these players play Smash or Tekken and is now understanding that aspect of it and make sure when I'm on screen that I give the production team good quality content so they know they can post it and stream it and have me on air with them.
So all that started coming together in my head and again all them goals that I can continue to write down that I want to coach eSports one day or shout cast this event or be a part of this initiative and I'm the head coach of eSports at Lakeland University. I stream myself. It's summertime, my season is over with the eSports so I could get back to something I'm starting to love now, it's streaming, So I've been streaming since the start of May. Halo, a lot of Halo, heavy Halo.
Shane: I wanted to ask you about that, didn't you host like a Halo party or something recently?
Ahman: Yeah, I didn't. I didn't host it, a friend of mine hosted it. I just went to it in Orlando and it was one of my friends networking and he was an associate but now he's a friend now. He has his own company. I'll give him a little shout out. It's Glitch Gear, glitchgear.com. And he makes fun stuff. So kind of like this shirt here, you see this 8-bit must go, this is from another company that supports my eSports, my college team. But he does gaming t-shirts. I mean he just started a line of Pokémon and I said, dude. I said, you're going to kill the game. I said all these millennials are going to love the Pokémon shirt. So what he's doing with the Pokémons, he's doing Pokémons, like with the McDonald's logo or the Coca-Cola logo or Taco Bell logo, it's just so creative what he did.
But meeting him was because I went to E3 and I gave him my card or a friend of a friend introduced me to him, and he introduced me to the people at Ubisoft and some more people at Microsoft. So just those connections and then those connections become business contacts and then those business contacts become friendships. He's like, Ahman, when we first met, he said, hey yeah, do this whole Halo party with just my friends. We just hang out at the house and we play Halo all night. I tried to tie it in with a movie. So Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is coming out that weekend and we're doing it.
And so I was like, I told him when the next time you do it, you better invite me and he did. He called me up like back in February. He said, Ahman, I'm doing it this May, can you make it? And I looked at my calendar real quick and then at first glance I didn't know. I was like, yes, I could do it. Then two weeks before, I'm like, dude, you know this is Mother's Day weekend? He's like, man, I didn't know. He was like, no, I didn't know. And so I was able to take care of my wife. I'm married and took her out, we had our Mother's Day prior to me leaving because she knew I was about to go down to Florida and be a big kid for the weekend, which we did. So we played Halo 1 and then Halo 2, Halo 3, I mean. We started at like 4 o'clock on Saturday to about 1, 1:30. I made new friends so I got new friends, I could jump in Halo matches with and some really good players, really good guys too. It was fun. It was so much fun.
Shane: It sounds like a lot of fun. But I got to ask you because you brought it up Lakeland University and you're an eSports coach. Just very quickly, what does a day in the life of an eSports coach look like?
Ahman: Alrighty. Well I'll start, I say probably the busiest day, busiest time is between training camp and the regular season. So I wake up probably around 7, 8 o'clock here, try to get a workout in and I got to get to campus by 9 o’clock for our start of practice and then we have a quick meeting to let the players know how practice starts. You start with your warm up, whatever game you're playing, if you're playing Overwatch, you're playing Rocket League. So whatever that warm up is, let's go get into it for 30 to 45 minutes. And then after the first 30, 45 minutes, then we go into if you want to talk about team strategy on certain maps, game play against other teams or watch vox, watch video, videos that we just recorded of a previous game. Break that down with your whole team mates.
With some games like the Shooters, like Overwatch, like Valorant, like Call of Duty, like Halo, you got to do map call outs. So you got to go over that area is going to be called and sometimes call outs can be misunderstood. So let's have a session where we make sure we understand about call out. And then after about an hour, hour and a half, then we get into actual scrims. So we play with and against each other, we might scrimmage another school. Then we break for lunch and then we come back around 3 and do the same thing all over again. We warm up into our games, like I said, Rocket League, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Valorant, League, Smash Bros., Ultimate. Any of those games due to warm up again, just rinse and repeat and because it's getting them on that structured schedule, just like sports, just like traditional sports that I grew up in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, you did a structure and it was a rhyme and reason behind it.
A lot of the kids that are new to eSports are kind of, why are we doing this like this? Why do we have to be here at this time? Why are we…? Well in the shooter, the one thing you don't want to be at is shooting and being accurate so you better practice your aim. So you got to go into an aim lab or app called KovaaK's or go into the weapons drill and Halo Infinite to work on knowing how the gun feels and how it kicks back, where you have to keep the rectile [ph] down. You got to learn on these little details because this is what the pros do. With me and football, I practice in the off season how to hold the ball better, how to catch the ball better, how to be in shape, I'm running sprints, I'm doing that. So this is their conditioning. We practice three hours a day for a reason because a match in certain games, some are longer, some are shorter. But if you can't last an hour playing a game, then you don't have the endurance, the visual and the mental endurance to get through that. Then you're no good to the team. So we got to practice three or four hours a day to build up that endurance, because then the thinking, the critical thinking you got to do, and you got to do that fast. You're not thinking, you're just reacting. We think about it in meetings.
Ahman: -- you practice it, you talk about it, but in the game you got to do it now and we'll deal with it later.
Shane: It's a lot like sports then in that sense and repeating and running the drills and really knowing what the game plan is and the strategy.
Shane: I got to ask you this because you're a professional in this area and I know this comes up a lot just even in common conversation. PlayStation or Xbox and why?
Ahman: Well I would say full disclosure now, I'm an Xbox guy and now I was a PlayStation and that was before obviously Xbox came out. I was playing PlayStation 2 and 1 forever and one of my college buddies, Tony said, Ahman, have you seen the new Xbox? Have you played on it? I'm like I have a box right here, I haven't even opened it. I went to this some Super Bowl party and I got given this this Xbox, the big one, the first one. He said, man, you got to open it. You got to play this game called Halo. I'm like, all right, man. Since I trust you, you're a fellow gamer, you know what I like. So let me try and ever since I opened that box, the system never went back in the box. I really play on both. If you look at my -- if you can see everything to my left immediate left is the new Xbox Series X. But then I have a PlayStation 5 right next to that and then a Switch next to that. So I'm ambidextrous. But I would say overall, I'm straight. I'm Xbox. I'm really an Xbox guy.
Shane: You’re an Xbox guy. Alright, alright, so there we go. And you're hosting the podcast, Ahman Green’s Gamer Lounge.
Ahman: Yes, yeah. I've been doing that for a year and a half now. Honestly, almost two years and yeah, I just started because of a passion for the game and watching other streamers, watching podcasters, watching people on YouTube break down things about gaming and then having fun with it. I've seen enough TV, I grew up around watching talk shows to game shows to any type of entertainment about a subject. If it's serious, if it's informational, or if it's just fun gaming, having a conversation and that's what I kind of developed a show behind. We have fun, we have a section called This or That. And I do it live on Twitch and then alive on YouTube as well. Might be transitioning more to YouTube.
Then the other podcast is a football podcast. I do that with one of my teammates at Mike Wahle, he was a -- for us with the Packers for all those years and it's mainly a Packer podcast and we talked about our former team and what they're doing good and bad and we give our I say our unbiased opinion of our team and some stuff that happens around the NFL.
Shane: I just want to do one more screen share here because this is I thought was kind of cool too and sort of kind of into your wheelhouse as well here. This is pretty cool stuff here man, the NFT environment and the Metaverse.
SOT: Hello everyone, how are you doing? This is Ahman Green. The Green Bay Packers all-time leading rusher and I just entered into the Metaverse. I got my penthouse, I’m going to lay it out nice. And I got my private gaming lounge so you guys can come in and be my neighbor and then we can sit and play video games and talk about the good old days when I was playing football in Lambeau Field. So get your property now and be my next door neighbor, please. I think that would be so dope too. We could play a lot of, like I said, play a lot of video games together, watch some more Lambeau football games and things of that nature.
Shane: Looks dope.
Ahman: This is reality. We're dealing in a futuristic world. A lot of cool stuff is going on around us in the video game space which is part of the NFT to the Metaverses. We see companies like Facebook building off their Meta right now. So this company I'm a part of is building our own Metaverses. You could go to Instagram or Twitter blockchain.boys. It's NFT fans agency on Instagram. Do check us out.
Shane: It sounds like a lot of fun, man. It sounds pretty cool. Hey listen, man, I just wanted to say thank you for joining us on the show here. This is a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the conversation. I hope you did too. Ahman Green, former Green Bay Packer, legendary Green Bay Packer and eSports coach, host of Ahman Greens Gamer Lounge. Thanks bro.
Ahman: You're welcome. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Shane: Thank you so much for joining me in the Front Row Seat with Ahman Green this week. Once again, I'm your host, Shane Mercer and this podcast is presented by millions.co. If you want to support and interact with Ahman, visit millions.co to shop his merch, get personal videos and join him for exclusive live events. You can also find Front Row Seat on Millions to shop our merchandise. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast on YouTube and follow us on all socials at frontrow.pod. We'll see you next week with our next special guest as we dive deep and give you the Front Row Seat.