April Madness: Green vs. Warren

Jacob Green (79) manhandles the Raiders Henry Lawrence

Yesterday: Shaun Alexander has scored again. He might be 4½ years removed from the most productive and decorated season in franchise history, but the prolific running back – and only Seahawk to be voted league MVP – ran past cornerback Marcus Trufant in their first-round matchup.

Alexander collected 72 percent of the responses, or 804 votes. Trufant got the other 27 percent, or 307 votes. Not too surprising, when you consider that Alexander also led the league with 1,880 rushing yards and scored a then-NFL record 28 touchdowns in 2005 – the best, and last, of a five-season run when he averaged 1,500 rushing yards and 17½ rushing touchdowns.

In the second round, Alexander will face the winner of today’s matchup between …

Today: Chris Warren vs. Jacob Green

We’ve been down this bracket disparity before. An extremely high draft choice (Green was the 10th pick overall in 1980) vs. a middle-round pick who beat extremely high odds to flourish with the Seahawks (Warren was a fourth-round pick in 1990). A very-productive offensive player (Warren) vs. the team’s all-time leader in sacks (Green).

When the Seahawks selected Green out of Texas A&M, ESPN was in its infancy and the Internet was more world-waiting venture than worldwide web. So the Seahawks threw on a highlight reel of Green at A&M, and it was impressive. He hurdled blockers to get to the quarterback. He dove between the legs of double-teaming blockers to trip up the ball carrier. He lunged to get to the running back before the back could get to the corner, despite having started the play on the opposite side of the line.

It was just a preview of what was to come. Green led the team in sacks nine times during his 12-year career to finish with a franchise-record 116 – or 42½ more than the player who sits second, Michael Sinclair. Green also ranks among the franchise leaders in games started (third with 176), tackles (fifth with 718), return touchdowns (tied for second with four), forced fumbles (first with 28), fumble recoveries (first with 17), blocked PATs (tied for second with two) and blocked field goals (tied for fourth with two).

But with Green, it wasn’t just how he played, but how much he played. From first snap to last, season opener to season finale, season after season. With the arrival of fellow defensive end Jeff Bryant in the first round of the 1982 draft and the addition of nose tackle Joe Nash as an undrafted free agent that same year, they formed what became known as “The DieHards.”

Why DieHards? “Because we always start,” was Green’s explanation, and a reference to old ads for car batteries.

Green also was voted to the Pro Bowl twice and inducted into the Ring of Honor in 1995.

Warren, meanwhile, had to play a waiting game after being the 89th pick overall in the same draft that produced defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, linebacker Terry Wooden and strong safety Robert Blackmon – all fulltime starters by their second seasons. This foursome formed what became known as “The Rookie Club.”

While playing behind Derrick Fenner in his first two seasons, Warren returned punts and kickoffs – despite being 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds. Once he got into the starting backfield, however, Warren started to make things happen – rushing for 1,017 yards in 1992; 1,072 yards in ’93; 1,545 yards in ’94; and 1,346 yards in ’95, when he also scored 15 rushing touchdowns.

When he was released after the 1998 season, Warren was the franchise record holder in rushing yards (6,706) and ranked second in rushing touchdowns (44) to Curt Warner (55) – totals since eclipsed by Shaun Alexander.

Warren was voted to the Pro Bowl three times and earned All-Pro honors twice.

A productive pass-rusher from Day One who set a franchise record for sacks that likely never will be broken? Or a durable running back who made the most of any opportunity given to him? You make the call.

Tomorrow: Curt Warner vs. Joey Galloway

Click here for full bracket and schedule

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