Not all of the most versatile players in the history of professional football are well-known.
For every Chuck Bednarik and Paul Hornung, there is Roy Green. Green, who played in relative anonymity for the moribund St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals for 12 seasons (1979-90) and Philadelphia Eagles (1991-92), was equally adept at performing on offense, defense and special teams early in his career.
Green, a two-time Pro Bowler as a wide receiver for the Cardinals, began his National Football League career as a defensive back and kickoff returner. As a rookie in 1979, Green had a 106-yard kickoff return touchdown en route to a 24.5-yard average and 1,005 yards for the entire campaign. In 1980, he averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return and 10.5 yards per punt return, and picked off his first professional pass.
Then, in 1981, Green truly became an all-purpose threat. Sometimes playing more than 100 snaps in a game, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Green caught 33 passes for 708 yards and four touchdowns, ran three times for 60 yards and a score, returned eight kicks for 135 yards and intercepted three passes for 44 yards.
At the time, Green was noted as the most versatile player in the NFL. He caught a pass and intercepted one in a game three times in 1981, and spent time as a wide receiver, defensive back, return man and as a member of the punt team.
Green eventually became a full-time wide receiver, and ended his NFL career with 559 catches for 8,965 yards and 66 touchdowns. He had back-to-back seasons in 1983 and 1984 (78-1,227-14 and 78-1,555-12) that can be put up against any of the top receivers of that decade.
In addition to his receiving prowess, Green finished his career with 23 rushes for 140 yards and a touchdown, 27 punt returns for 230 yards and a score, 89 kickoff returns for 2,002 yards and a TD, four interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
It isn’t impossible to imagine an A11 Professional Football League player participating in as many plays in a game as Roy Green did in 1981. Any A11FL team would be lucky to have an athlete do as many things well as Green did that season, as well.
Dusty Sloan is the A11 Professional Football League’s Senior Editor/Vice President of Editorial Content.