Football Bonds

The Green boys, T.J. and Derek, both have baseball games scheduled for this weekend. And as his father did with him and older brother Troy during their various athletic pursuits as youngsters, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green won't miss a single pitch.

What he will miss is being able to spend Father's Day with his dad, Jim Green, who died last October of a heart attack at only 58 years of age, and with no health problems of which his family was aware.

"It's going to be emotional, sure, and it already has been as we get closer [to Father's Day]," Trent Green said Friday afternoon, heading into a weekend where he will typically immerse himself in the type of family activities that were such an important component of his own upbringing. "I think about him every day, and I know I will on Sunday, but I also know I'm blessed to have had the time I did with him and to have had my mom and my [siblings] and all. But I'm sure that, even with the boys' baseball games and all the other things going on, it will be hard."

Many men, in sneaking a wistful peek over their shoulders at their boyhood, think their dad was the absolute greatest guy in the world. Less than eight months removed from his father's passing, Green has more reason than most to stare hard into the mental rearview mirror and some justification for feeling that the reflection therein is even bigger than it appears.

Because that's the kind of impact Jim Green clearly had on his youngest son.

As complicated as the male bonding process is presented as being, it is characteristically less complex than analysts suggest. In the case of Jim and Trent Green, it can be reduced to a simple equation: Jim Green loved football and his son. Trent Green loved his dad and, even though he was a little leery the first time his father signed him up to play tackle football in the seventh grade, he came to share Jim Green's passion for the sport that has enabled him to earn a nice livelihood and helped to make him one of the most embraced athletes in Kansas City history, on and off the field.

There wasn't, it seems, much pretense about Jim Green. He was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, starred in football at Jefferson High School, where his team was undefeated his senior season, played at a small South Dakota college for a couple years, then went off to Vietnam. Upon returning from the war, he enrolled at the University of Iowa and finished his degree work. Too old to resume his career, he may have lost his chance at a career in the game he loved, but he never lost his love for football.

And so when Trent Green was 12 years old and starring in AAU basketball tournaments, Jim Green tossed him a football and suggested that his youngest son try the sport for just a year. Nearly two dozen years later, Trent hasn't put down the football yet, thanks in part to his dad, who basically wouldn't let him.

"When I was in the seventh grade, I actually played left tackle and free safety, if you can believe it," Green said. "In the eighth grade, I was a wide receiver and a free safety, and my brother was the other receiver. Our quarterback broke his collarbone, and we needed someone to play, and it was my dad who went to the coach and suggested he try me. The coach, he didn't know if I could play [quarterback] or not. But my dad had watched me and Troy throwing the ball in the yard every day, and he knew I could do it. He always had faith that I could."

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