By Leo Beas
During Virgil Green’s early years in high school, he had a huge growth spurt that lead to pain in his knee, and little did he know that it would cause an ominous injury his freshman year at Nevada. This injury would test his determination to reach the next level.
In 2007, when he joined Nevada’s football program, he continued to feel discomfort in his knee and simply couldn’t take it anymore. The medical staff checked it out, and they revealed that Green needed to get micro-fracture knee surgery, which had the potential of being career-ending, according to his doctor at the time, Jim Pappas.
Green’s parents, Sharon and Virgil, stood aghast at the thought of their son never playing football again.
“I didn’t want to see my mom sad, so I tried to be strong for her and let her know that I wasn’t upset or anything,” Green said.
The day of the surgery, emotions were running high in the Green family, but their faith in God was so enormous that prayer became the only source of comfort, and according to them, it worked.
“Right away me and my husband started praying and believing for his healing,” Sharon said. “I didn’t care what the doctor said because I know what my doctor upstairs can do, and he can do the impossible.”
The micro-fracture knee surgery was successful. Green took six months to rehabilitate and, most importantly, fought hard to get back on the field. He went on to have a successful three years as a starter at Nevada.
But the road to success wasn’t so simple. He says the very special person who is now his wife was a major piece of the puzzle during these tough times.
Road to the NFL
Marianne Green played on Nevada’s women’s basketball team and met Virgil two weeks before his surgery. Both cherished each others company, and always had each others’ back, as if they were best friends. They were married July 14, 2013 in Lake Tahoe.
“We met freshman year, so I feel very blessed as an NFL wife that I can sit there and watch him on the NFL field, and I know everything he’s been through,” Marianne said.
Being student athletes took a great toll on their bodies and minds. When things got tough, especially during his rehab time, Marianne Green said she would use Virgil Green’s faith to get him through any sort of obstacle.
“I was raised in a Christian household, but obviously when you get to college, you have to make a decision,” Green said. “I decided that my walk with Christ was an important walk. Playing football is tough on your body, your mind, and I lean on my faith a lot to get me through all the struggles.”
The next step was the NFL Combine, where he would show many GMs and scouts how he overcame his knee injury and show his unique athleticism for a big man.
According to Green’s father, it was reported that Green never missed a practice or a game due to injury while at Nevada. Green’s broad jump and vertical leap numbers were the second-best combine numbers among tight ends since 2000.
He had a vertical leap of 42.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 10 inches. He also posted the third-best 40-yard dash time (4.54 seconds) among tight ends that ran and put up 23 reps on the bench press.
He was projected to go anywhere in the third-round to seventh-round in the 2011 draft.
Draft day was held at the Green household in Tulare, California. As players names were called, discouragement and stress ascended for Green and his family because they believed he deserved to go higher in the draft.
Then with the 204th selection, the Denver Broncos chose Green, and the celebration began. Jeremiah Green, his younger brother who played with Virgil at Nevada during the winning 2010 season admires the relentlessness and faith of his brother.
“God has been such a blessing for me and my family, especially my brother going to a Super Bowl—from him getting injured and the doctor telling him you’re not going to play anymore to now being a good tight end in the NFL,” Jeremiah said. “We just really try to thank God especially in the media. We let everyone know that it’s not us; it’s God who has taken us this far and taking us further.”
One of Green’s favorite bible versus that describes his relationship with his brother is Proverbs 27:17.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” Green said.
Green’s admirable personality and discipline is a major reason for his successful career thus far.
“He leaves me in awe, leaves me speechless because of everything that he does,” Marianne said. “He is very disciplined, he knows what’s right — having a character like that is definitely amazing to watch, see and especially have as a husband. Definitely a blessing.”
Super Bowl Experience
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and the only thing Green can think about was the game.
Woke up, began to study the playbook, then relaxed and listened to music because he didn’t want to mess up.
“I played my heart out when I had an opportunity,” Green said. “I studied, I knew what my assignments were going into the game, and Seattle was obviously the better team that day. You have to tip your hat off to them, and I’m excited to play them again next year.”
Green and teammate Brandon Marshal became the ninth and 10th Wolf Pack alums to play in the Super Bowl. This should inspire any current Wolf Pack player who aspires to play at the NFL level, but it will require more than talent.
“At the tail end of my sophomore year, I made a decision that I would give anything and everything it took to get to the National Football League,” Green said. “You just have to put in that extra mile. Whenever you think you should quit, just go some more because that’s the reason why I got to where I am today—because I never took a day off.”
This toughness and determination is something Green’s father says makes him very proud, but he’s not the only one. Hall-of-Fame coach Chris Ault knew he had a great human being and football player when recruiting Green. Ault molded Green to become tougher and strive for greatness.
“Coach Ault instilled a mindset of pure toughness at Nevada,” Green said. “I’ve always said, anybody who can go 5 years at Nevada is a tough dude, because coach Ault makes sure you become a man when you leave that program.”
Leo Beas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.