ALLEN PARK — After a brief hiatus, the Detroit Lions QAs are back.
For those unfamiliar, this is a weekly series that runs during the season. Sometimes the QA is about football, although much of the time it’s about everything else. The goal of the series isn’t necessarily to talk about the big play or the latest injury, but to get a fun look at the men behind the facemasks, their personalities, their lives.
Up first is Tion Green, an undrafted rookie running back who squeaked onto the roster thanks to 150 yards of offense in the preseason finale against Buffalo.
MLive: Congrats on making the team. What’s been the coolest thing to happen to you in your first week on an NFL roster?
Tion Green: Coolest thing? Shoot, getting that blue check on Twitter. That’s gotta be it.
MLive: I guess you’ve finally made it, huh?
Green: I guess, man. My agent said he got it for me after that video went a little viral and all those freaking retweets. There was a lot of buzz goin’ on about me after that run I guess. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but (shoot) I guess people liked it. I was just runnin’, man.
MLive: I think people knew you had power, but were a little surprised by how fast you were too.
Green: I just finally got the opportunity, man. I mean I got opportunities before, but I’m talking about getting a full game. You know, every back is a little different, and I normally get stronger as a game goes on. That’s why I started feelin’ it. I start getting a feel for the speed, I start reading players, like, ‘OK, this guy is a fast flow guy. This guy is a slow flow guy. This corner really doesn’t like contact. That guy tackles high.’ That’s why when I was running, I was literally like, ‘I can put a move on this guy — he’s stiff. And I can outrun that guy.’
TION GREEN TO THE HOUSE!
— NFL (@NFL) September 1, 2017
MLive: So when that first NFL money comes in, you going to splurge on anything? What are you going to celebrate with?
Green: Probably some Chipotle. Keep it simple with some Chipotle.
You know, the guys in the room, Brandon Copeland, (director of player development) Galen (Duncan), do a really great job of teaching me that, like, my situation is different than Jarrad Davis’, a first-round draft pick. Teez Tabor, a second-round guy, or Kenny (Golladay). Those guys are my best friends — Jalen Reeves-Maybin too — those are my guys. But I just know I wasn’t drafted, so I got to save my money. Anything can happen. I’m probably the 24th spot on offense, so anything can happen and I just want to save as much as I can.
Plus, these frickin’ guys take such good care of me that I don’t have to buy nothin’ my man. They literally take turns taking care of me. I stay at Zach (Zenner’s) house one day, I was at Theo (Riddick’s) last night, I go to Ameer (Abdullah’s) today, I go to Dwayne (Washington’s) tomorrow. Those guys really do a great job of taking care of me. Then we get free food here, free equipment. It’s not like I’m going out partying every night — it’s not like college. I’m studying every night, taking care of my body. They’re teaching me to be a pro. And when we go get massages or whatever, I mean, they know my financial situation, so they’ll literally pay for my ass.
Even George Winn, our old No. 38, he gave me his car (a Chrysler 200). He’s like, ‘Tion, until you get situated with everything, you can have my car as long as you need it.’ He’s with the Colts now and has a couple cars, so he’s like, ‘Look, Tion, here’s my college car. Just take care of it.’ And he gave me his car. I’m probably the luckiest rookie in the NFL right now.
MLive: Sounds smart to me. I hope you at least splurge on some guac though.
Green: Eh, I’m not a big fan of Chipotle’s guacamole.
MLive: Oh. Well I don’t think we can be friends then.
Green: Well I like it, but I like Qdoba’s guacamole better. I’m a picky guy I guess.
MLive: What’s the weirdest or most intersting interaction you’ve had with a fan? Whether it was in college or here or whatever. I know y’all see some weird stuff.
Green: I was in that phase of camp where it’s hitting me, that, ‘OK, this (stuff’s) real tough.’ My name got called to sign after practice, and as I was walking up I told the security guy, ‘Man, do I really have to do this?’ Because if you drop a ball in practice, you have to catch 100 balls afterward. I had to go catch my 100 balls, I had to go get treatment, I had meetings in two hours and I just didn’t have time. And I told somebody, ‘Nobody knows me, what’s even the point of me doing this? Please.’ And the guy was like, ‘Tion, you have no idea.’
Then sure enough, as I was approaching, people started — you know, they weren’t screaming like I was (Darius) Slay or Ameer or (Matthew) Stafford or anything — but they knew who I was. They were saying, ‘Tion! Tion! Can you sign for us! Can you take a picture?’ And people were just telling me, like, ‘Man, you’re going to be really good when you get your opportunity. I saw your film, you have so much potential.’
I’m hearing this from fans, and I’m telling you, it really helped me as a player. I was having a tough day, and it gave me another lift. Because I was hitting that wall, where it was like, ‘This is tough.’ Every rookie hits it, because it’s training camp. It’s hard, it’s fast, there’s so much information coming at you that you have to regurgitate. And those fans saying that to me uplifted me so much, I frickin’ signed for every one of them.
MLive: What’s it been like, bouncing between sleeping at Ameer’s and Theo’s and Zach’s and Dwayne’s?
Green: It’s been great because there’s so much balance. Every running back has a different personality. Zach Zenner’s more of like a mentor, guidance kind of guy. You ask for his advice, because he’s so reliable. Not saying the other guys aren’t reliable, but Zach is probably the most reliable. I can ask him something about Egypt, and he’s going to have an answer for me. I asked him stuff about my nutrition, and he had an answer for me.
You go to Dwayne, and he’s more of a guy my age, who’s been through it — I mean, they’ve all been through it, but he’s been so freshly through it. And he understands. He’s got more of a college-type house still. Zach’s is more homey. Then you go to Ameer’s house, and his vibe is probably the most chill out of all of them. If I ever wanted to just get away and chill and be on my own, I’d go to Ameer’s, because he’s just like, ‘Hey, you just go stay in the guest room, and if you need anything just come out here in the living room.’
Then Theo — you know, they’re all big brother types, but Theo is the most like a big brother to me. I really look up to him. He’s more vocal to me, without me asking. So he’ll tell me how to carry myself, and what to do and what not to do. If I make a mistake, Theo is the first guy to say something. He’s the guy who’s like, ‘Hey Tion, you need to pull your pants up when you’re around the building. That’s not a good look.’ Or, ‘Hey Tion, when you’re speaking, you need to talk more clearly and don’t use slang.’ Or, ‘Hey Tion, when you have a question in a meeting, wait to ask it until the end.’ Or like today, he said, ‘Hey Tion, I can see you’re writing notes. But you need to write notes more to the side, so coach can see you writing notes.’ Or like last night when we were watching the (Patriots-Chiefs) game, he was quizzing me, like, ‘Hey Tion, if we were in radar protection, what are you doing?’
MLive: Something a fan wanted me to ask was, have you ever had a real-world job? Like, what was your first job?
Green: I’ve had one real actual job. In high school I moved in with a family, and his dad owned a construction company that did stuff at the Amway Center. That’s the first time I saw some real money that I got to keep.
MLive: Yeah, but construction ain’t no joke. I bet your earned that money.
Green: Bro, you ain’t kidding. I ain’t about to get my mom a job there. My mom’s a freaking workaholic, but I told her she shouldn’t work there.
MLive: What does your mom do?
Green: My mom’s a freaking truck driver. But then she got hurt on the job and got a little settlement. So then she started working at the auction, but she wanted some extra money, so she started working at the Amway arena too. My mom would work there from 4:30 a.m. until lunch, and then she would go straight to the auction.
I worked a little bit growing up. I didn’t have a choice. My momma was a tough lady. Just like a year ago, I was like, ‘Momma, I want some juice.’ She told me to go get it, and I was like, ‘Ma, how am I going to get there?’ And she’s like, ‘Use your brain Mr. Green.’ One time when I was young I was crying and was like, ‘Why do you got to be so mean to me?’ I thought she was bullying me. I’m the baby of the six kids, and she’d just make things hard sometimes.
I asked her like a year ago, ‘Man, why’d you always do that (stuff)?’ And she just said, ‘I wanted you to understand what hard work and work ethic was. I never wanted you to enter the world and not know what a work ethic was. I never wanted you to have your hand out looking for a handout in this world, because you’re never going to get it.’
MLive: Well you earned everything you got here. That was a crowded room, but you surived.
Green: You know, when we were going through rookie minicamp and OTAs and camp and all that, you could see some of the young guys falling off. But I was never nervous. I was excited, because I was like, nothing’s ever been handed to me. Look at my eyes, bro.
Not to name any names, but not everybody can take the pressure. Pressure busts pipes. But me, trying to get qualified to get into college, wasn’t easy. Tutoring, not passing the SAT, I was struggling. I got through that though. Went to college, then sophomore year, Butch Jones left me. Got an injury. Tommy Tuberville put three guys ahead of me, and I was at the bottom of the depth chart. Came back, got my spot back and graduated early.
You talk about having to go through it? I’ve been through it. But I see a lot of guys go through things, and they fold. Things get tough, and they give up. They don’t know how to react to pressure. But that’s been my whole life. So when stuff happens, I’m just like, ‘OK, whatever, this is the easy part.’ I’ve been preparing my whole life for this damn thing.
MLive: That’s an amazing story man. Have you done anything for your mother to thank her since you made the NFL?
Green: Nah man, she won’t let me. Like, my momma told me growing up that me making it would be her gift. All she wants is tickets to a game and a flight, and I did that for her in the preseason. Because, come on, it’s Tom Brady. Come on, man. But that’s all she wanted. My momma just said, ‘You make it, man, and that’s you repaying me. You living out your dreams is enough for me.’