Greene shows Stafford what happens when things go wrong

If Matthew Stafford feels overwhelmed early in the NFL, he wouldn't be the first rookie quarterback. Ask David Greene.

If Matthew Stafford (pictured with Lions assistant Scott Linehan) feels overwhelmed early as a pro, he wouldn't be the first rookie QB to struggle. Ask David Greene.

Five years ago, David Greene was college football gold. He broke the NCAA record for most wins. He threw for more passing yards than any quarterback in SEC history (including Peyton Manning). Maybe he wasn’t projected as an NFL star. But he was drafted in the third round by Mike Holmgren, who had made a career of molding quarterbacks into Super Bowl champions, so that had to mean something.

Today, David Greene sells insurance. “We’re in the risk-management consultant business,” he said. Yeah. Sounds better.

He spent four NFL seasons with four teams and never played in a regular-season game. The systems were different. The terminology was different. The playbook read like Latin. It was year one and, “There I was being re-coached on a three-step drop. I felt like I had zero carryover from college.”

David Greene was a star at Georgia.

Matthew Stafford was a star at Georgia.

It’s the sincere hope of Stafford and the Detroit Lions that the similarities will end there.

David Greene made it into only exhibitions with Seattle.

David Greene starred at Georgia but he made it into only exhibitions with Seattle and retired after four NFL seasons.

“As talented as Stafford is, he’s got the arm to be successful,” Greene said. “But I don’t know any college quarterback who doesn’t have growing pains as a pro. It’s just a completely different game. Everybody struggles. Look at [Troy] Aikman. Look at Manning. [Ben] Roethlisberger is about the only one who did well, but he had the perfect system to step into and a great team around him.”

When reminded of Matt Ryan’s spectacular first season with the Falcons, Greene said: “He throws off the curve. What he did was unheard of.”

NFL training camps start in two weeks. The Lions aren’t saying if Stafford will start right away. But a franchise doesn’t guarantee $41.7 million to a rookie quarterback with the expectation of him being a potted plant.

Aikman started as a rookie in Dallas and went 1-15.

Ryan started as a rookie, threw a touchdown pass on his first NFL attempt and went to the playoffs.

Stafford? Nobody disputes his NFL talent. His NFL readiness might be another matter. Some scouts have questioned his feel for pressure in the pocket. There were accuracy issues at times in Athens. Also a few underwhelming performances in big games.

Greene never had Stafford’s physical attributes. But on the field, it was as if coach Mark Richt cloned himself and sent his copy into the huddle. Greene operated the offense to perfection. He even spoke in the same monotone voice as Richt. Greene projected as at least a solid NFL backup because he was successful, smart and never appeared overwhelmed.

But he struggled with the West Coast offense in Seattle. He struggled with the size and speed of pro defensive fronts. He played only in exhibitions with the Seahawks for two years. New England had him on the practice squad for almost a year. He passed through Kansas City, then Indianapolis. The New York Giants phoned this past winter, but Greene said: “I felt like I was beating a dead horse.” He had a wife and toddler at home in Gwinnett County and grew tired of his vagabond life. So he retired and went into business with another former Bulldog, Matt Stinchcomb.

If nothing else, Greene hung with the NFL elite. His coaches: Holmgren, Bill Belichick, Herm Edwards, Tony Dungy. (Those guys don’t sign dumb quarterbacks.)

His classmates: Matt Hasselbeck, Tom Brady and Manning.

He went to a Super Bowl with the Seahawks. He watched an undefeated season (until the Super Bowl) with the Patriots. But it just never clicked for him.

“With Stafford, it’s just going to depend on how well he catches on,” Greene said. “I never got comfortable playing in the system and my reps were limited.”

Stafford will get his shot. Reps won’t be an issue. Defenses could be. Greene learned carryover isn’t automatic.

96 comments Add your comment


July 18th, 2009
2:06 am

How bout them Dawgs!!

Be-little, BeBOLD

July 18th, 2009
8:18 am

Just another Bull Dawg that can’t hack the BIG game!


July 18th, 2009
8:23 am

i don’t think Stafford has it upstairs


July 18th, 2009
8:31 am

Well finally I’m going to compliment you… There’s a piece with some insight… From having lived in SE Michigan, I know it is the question I’m asked the most by old friends who remain Honolulu blue fans: “Can he adjust to complexities of pro football?” I’m honest and say “Maybe.”

Being coached by lightweights like Richt and Bobo leaves one wondering. He’s (Richt) only had one success of note, Brad Johnson.His glory came years after leaving Richt and being retrained in game management and technique. The unpreparedness of DJ. Shockley only magnifies the whole matter.


July 18th, 2009
8:41 am

“spectacular”…..Michael Turner was spectacular. #2 was efficient.

Yeller Skeeters Are Peter-Eaters

July 18th, 2009
8:44 am

Who cares what they do after they leave UGA? The NFL is a cutthroat business, and players have no loyalties except to the highest bidder.
My personal opinion is that Staff will spend his time in Detroit being hurt, rehabing from being hurt, or running for his life to KEEP from being hurt. After he gets traded or leaves Detroit via free agency with the “washed up” label hung on him, then he can go somewhere else and win….you know, like Plunkett, or Favre…..QBs that were drafted by horrendous NFL teams in their day, but went elsewhere and won titles.


July 18th, 2009
8:46 am

Be-little, be-BOLD……

Is that handle the pet name you use for your johnson?


July 18th, 2009
8:46 am

If given more reps, I believe Greene could have been a solid back-up QB. I believe this because look at the teams that called on him. I mean..all those teams are top teams in the NFL. Stafford will have growing pains, but I believe he will make it. And as far as Richt & Bobo being lightweights(see above), JSS is off the mark. I have seen every QB get better & better under Richt & Bobo. Stafford could have used 1 more year under them, but I don’t blaime Stafford for leaving. You don’t get any higher than the #1 pick. Just my thoughts. GO DAWGS!

Harvey Goninan

July 18th, 2009
9:08 am

Staff will have his troubles but will end up a nfl starter for some team

Jeff Wetherbee

July 18th, 2009
9:15 am

Not For Long


July 18th, 2009
9:22 am

No matter what happened with his NFL career David Greene was a great bulldog. The NFL is just a different game with different agendas. Look at Hershel Walker. Was he ever a huge NFL star? Who ever heard of Brady outside of Michigan? Matt Lienart anyone? Never any guarantee when you go to the next level. Nice article Jeff.


July 18th, 2009
9:26 am

David Green was a class act. Matt Stafford was a class act. I wish him well.


July 18th, 2009
9:27 am

Where are the results Dawg94? D.J. couldn’t adjust to NFL game. Greene confessed that he overwhelmed by the whole thing and he was labeled the cerebral one. And poor Joe T, he is great long snapper!!! Funny that the QB coach and HC at little Miami of Ohio prepped a Pro QB and the Goliath still struggles so mightily at it.



July 18th, 2009
9:35 am

By the way, plenty of people outside of Michigan heard of Brady, big time CA recruit (National recruiting WOW!!!), but he was burdened by the chosen one Drew Henson… But credited the Michigan staff and more importantly Brady himself for getting him ready to at least understand. Brady worked with a QB guru from the Bay Area and the rest is history!!!

Oh, why is it that QB’s that never played a down in college at a certain West Coast school are drafted and when finally called upon excelled? They weren’t coached by lightweights!!!


July 18th, 2009
9:48 am

Have a good weekend folks, I don’t live vicariously through 21 year old boys for kicks… Got to get ready to go to Berlin for the World Track and Field Championships and watch people consume REAL BEER, not the PBR (the official beer of the DAWG NATION!!!)… Guden taug

Tony Romosexual

July 18th, 2009
9:49 am

JSS – I’m guessing you are a fan of the technical school on north avenue, otherwise why else would you be on this article making your comments. Funny how a couple of “lightweights” were a combined 5-0 against your precious bumble bees. I guess David and DJ should’ve made up some rings to celebrate that.

The Dogfighter Returns

July 18th, 2009
10:02 am

David Green is a lazy POS. Never in his wildest dreams did he believe he would earn as much money as he did in the years that he played in the NFL, when he graduated from S. Gwinnett. He is a simpleton who is happy he has a house paid off and is content to chill for the rest of his life living off being a UGAY legend.

Selling insurance is a damn great job. Yeah right David. Loser. How difficult is it to show up for camp, stay in shape, workout, and learn a playbook as a third string QB? At some point he simply accepted the fact that he doesn’t belong in the NFL was happy with the money he made and called it quits.

Any real competitor would have stuck it out (Brett Favre, Steve Deberg) becasue they love playing the game.

David Greene turned down a job for $500k with the G-men becasue he wants to be with his family. Loser. David is a sissy you have an 18 month old that is no excuse.

Ask the flacons back up if he would prefer to be selling insurance in louisville or playing football.

Stay away from David, Matt Stafford you will end up soft and lazy like him.


July 18th, 2009
10:25 am

Matt Ryan had an ACC education.

David Greene, well you know the rest of the story.

sane jane

July 18th, 2009
10:30 am

Outstanding piece, Jeff.

What happened to JoeT3? Didn’t that kid turn down a scholarship to Harvard in order to walk on at Georgia? I want to say I admire that kind of loyalty to a program, to follow in your dad’s footsteps… but pass up the free Crimson? I dunno…

George Bush

July 18th, 2009
10:31 am

David Greene is a nice guy but was never really that good. Those GA teams he was on were very talented with exceptional defensive players that really helped the offense ..(sean jones,pollack,Thomas davis etc..Richt wanted to start DJ over him but it was too early in his tenure to upset the DAWG NATION if you know what i mean..then in his first yr DJ won the Title..had he been given a couple of years he probably would have done for GA what TEE Martin di for TENN.

sarah palin

July 18th, 2009
10:32 am

At least JoeT’s brother had the sense to play at Wake. Not sure if he walked on or scholared though. Also.

sane jane

July 18th, 2009
10:35 am

George, your assessment of Greene is 100% right. But the assertion about Shock is idiotic. As talented as he may have been (and proved to be his senior year), you can’t second guess what Greene did. That’s a high, high bar for the SEC. You can’t just assume Shock would have automatically done better.


July 18th, 2009
10:39 am

Maybe family means more to some people than anything else. You are obviously a tech fan so you have no chance of procreating until your mid fourties when some girl decides to settle on you. Many people turn down opportunities for more money every day for family reasons (i did yesterday). Having an 18 month old at home is no joke, and If my wife left me with everything 10 months out of the year I would be upset too. Greene was never that good? He won more games and had more passing yards than any other SEC qb EVER! Plus selling insurance in GA as david greene? Probably going to make more money, work less, see his kids more, and play lots of golf. Sounds good to me.


July 18th, 2009
10:42 am

PS Peyton Manning had an SEC educatiom. BOO YAH!!!!


July 18th, 2009
10:43 am

Reggie ball had an ACC education. BOO YAH!!!


July 18th, 2009
12:04 pm

What can anyone learn from a QB who never threw a pass in the NFL? How to hold a clip board, how to pump up the starting QB, how to look good wearing a hat, how to not work hard and never get promoted, how to peak in college….If you never have a NFL career, can you really retire?


July 18th, 2009
12:31 pm

Really Rambles On?! Are you saying the ACC prepares their athletes better than the SEC? You need to start hanging out with Pi$$ Boy. You two have a lot in common.

How many times did David Greene beat Tech?(since you techies are so good at changing the subject at hand).

Bob, what school did you play QB for? Your confident post tells me you must have been one bad a$$ under center. Or maybe you played out of the shotgun.


July 18th, 2009
12:55 pm


July 18th, 2009
12:55 pm

There was talk about this topic on the last Schultz blog. So this is a repost.


July 18th, 2009
12:18 pm
Funny I can’t think of any former Tech QB’s that even played or got drafted in the NFL.The trend will continue…believe me.

Reggie Ball? just kidding. I got all of you, didn’t I?


July 18th, 2009
1:14 pm

“You are obviously a tech fan so you have no chance of procreating until your mid fourties when some girl decides to settle on you”

This just needed to be posted again. Well done.

Jeff Schultz

July 18th, 2009
1:27 pm

Dawg ’94 –There are a lot of mediocre QBs on the bench in the NFL. Greene could be better than a lot of them. But obviously his heart wasn’t in it any more.

Bluffdawg – Herschel did have a few pretty good years in the NFL, as a I recall. And thanx.

Sane Jane – Thanx. Don’t know where JT3 is. Also didn’t know about Harvard but it wouldn’t surprise me. He was a bright kid and obviously the FB standards are lower in the Ivys. But he had that whole legacy thing at Georgia.

George Bush – Not that good? What made him not that good – the record wins, the record yards or the fact he was universally admired by teammates or coaches? If you’re saying not that good relative to NFL talent, I could deal with the statement. But don’t go there for college.


July 18th, 2009
1:29 pm

Stafford has that mercenary mentality, which can work out fine in the NFL because essentially every player is an “independent contractor” of sorts. So I think if he’s coached right, he can have a solid NFL career.

With that being said, to win Championships in the NFL, there must be loyalty to your teamates and organization. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Big Ben, all have loyalty to their organization and vice virsa. They understand that if the parts around them are successful, then so will they. You build your organization around guys like this. In contrast a guy like Deion Sanders, who while extremely talented, was a total mercenary. You can still win championships with the Deion’s but you don’t build your entire organization around guys like him, you build them around the Steve Young’s, Troy Aikman’s, and Jerry Rice’s.

At best, I think Stafford can be like a Donovan McNabb, have a steady NFL career win some division titles, maybe a pro bowl here or there. But he doesn’t have a Super Bowl MVP mentality. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I will be.


July 18th, 2009
2:04 pm

uga has only had one quarterback to ever make a splash in the pros.

Francis Tarkington.

when the Superstar Stafford implodes into a black hole, Fran’s record (and legacy) will be quite secure.

D. Greene’s experience is typical of most UGA QBs that go pro….they go nowhere.
Just because the Staph infection was picked #1 means nothing.

Richt is a “system” coach….like Spurrier, Bob Knight, Coach K, Tom Osborne, Joe Paterno, etc. When those guys have a successful team, very few individual Pro superstars do they produce.

Staph has had the world at his feet his entire life. He needs to get knocked around a few times by some 300lb DE that can run faster and hit harder than anyone he ever saw… and then we’ll see what kind of a guy he really is.

My guess….he aint all that.

Awwww Yeah

July 18th, 2009
2:38 pm

The whole UGAY and UGAg thing is so lame. Angry geeks are annoying like gnats.


July 18th, 2009
2:53 pm

Does anyone have any idea what numbers Marlon Brown and Washaun Ealey will wear for the dawgs?


July 18th, 2009
3:13 pm

I gave up a ton of money to spend time with my children and I do not regret it. I got tired of missing, school plays, honor days, and tucking my children into bed. If that puts me in the same category as David Greene, I am fine with it. Good company.


July 18th, 2009
3:20 pm

Like JS said, Greene just never really had the heart to play in the NFL. Just because he is satisfied and happy with having a consistent job and a great family doesn’t make him a bad person or a bad football player. He loved playing a game, but he most likely did not want football to be his life.

For Matt Stafford, his whole life he’s wanted to be an NFL quarterback. I mean, he grew up near Troy Aikman didn’t he? This is his dream and playing for UGA was just a stepping stone for him to achieve his dream. He chose to play at UGA because of the coaching staff’s reputation with producing fine quarterbacks. I don’t think he really signed with UGA with the intention of winning, he wanted to audition for the NFL. Hey, it worked out for him.


July 18th, 2009
3:28 pm

True story cuz. Maybe we can get a golf game going with Greene while everyone else works themselves to death.


July 18th, 2009
4:23 pm

Great article Jeff. You hit the nail on the head just as you did in 2004 with an article you wrote after the Georgia/South Carolina game. Your put a smile on his face column was and always will be one of my favorite and maybe the most accurate one you ever wrote.

Rabun Dawg

July 18th, 2009
4:36 pm

Cuz, I totally agree with your post. Had 4 come along to clothe, feed, keep them busy in activities, then sent to college. Self imposed pressure on myself, so while I pounded the highways of the Southeast to keep it going, I missed a lot of plays, ball games and the like, and to this day, regret I wasn’t home enough to take it all in. So, hats off to David for wanting to be there for all of those once in a lifetime experiences. Playing football after college just might not have been his lifelong ambition, and who can fault him for wanting to share more time with his family! Good for you David!


July 18th, 2009
5:11 pm

Not have it upstairs??? I dont know how he will do with the Lions but come on … the guy got a 38 on his wonderlic … he clearly HAS it upstairs

"Love the Game"

July 18th, 2009
5:21 pm

C’mon people, give the guy a chance. He’s a good kid and we all should wanna see him succeed. I’m no big dog fan but I like tha kid. Hes intellgent, and a great athlete.


July 18th, 2009
5:36 pm

for all the tech school haters and lizard lovers posting here i don’t seem to recall too many great florida or georgia tech quaterbacks having outstanding pro carrers do you?


July 18th, 2009
5:40 pm

Here’s my take on Matthrew Stafford. He was a selfish qb at uga and he was only looking out for his on best interest. I watch every game that he played in when he would audible 90% of the time so he could throw the football. This would increase his chances of getting notice by nfl scouts. Even when he was having bad games he would still change the play at the line of scrimmage.

We had the best rb(Moreno) in college but that selfish(Stafford) would rather throw the football than to hand it off to Moreno. I blame clueless Richt for allowing him to have his way. I said it once and I’m saying it again, watch and see Moreno explode in the Denver offense and Matthew will fell in the Lions offense. Stafford made poor decisions 50% of the time and his passes are wobbly. I feel sorry for the Lions fans.

Jeff Schultz

July 18th, 2009
6:04 pm

Sick and tired — Thanks.

Tony — The NFL was always Stafford’s No.1 priority but I think selfish is a little strong. He had a chance to turn pro and be the No. 1 pick in the draft and set himself up financially for the rest of his life. How can you argue against him leaving?

true fan

July 18th, 2009
6:12 pm

Honestly after reading all the posts, I would say a hand full of people know what they are talking about. Jeff good article, you def. know what you are talking about. Tech fans you can’t dog david greene ever, do yall remember who was QB when we put up 51 points on yall in 2002? Do you remember David Greene’s record against Tech,4-0? Still don’t remember ok, 2001 31-17 UGA, 2002 51-7 UGA, 2003 34-17 UGA, 2004 19-13 UGA. To the idiots out there that think the Nfl is a little step above College Football and anybody with talent can succeed, get a grip on reality. The NFL is extremely tough to do well in, Matt Leinhart(dont know if I spelled that right) and Vince Young got beat out by two QB’s that are in their mid 30’s. We’re talking about two of the best COLLEGE QB’s ever and top ten draft picks!!! The NFL takes a different breed. Stafford may not do well in Detroit but it wont be because he isn’t smart(38 on wonderlic I think that speaks for his intelligence) it will be because he is playing for the LIONS!!! They are horrible, they were horrible when they had Barry Sanders. People you gotta realize some of the best college players didn’t do well in the NFL ex: Danny Wuerffel, Andre Ware, Heath Shuler. It takes a different breed. I personally believe Stafford will do well and hope he does well because I’m a true diehard dawg fan that wants our former players to do well in the league and Life. To David Greene, best of luck to him and you are truly one damn good dawg. GO DAWGS!!!!!

true fan

July 18th, 2009
6:24 pm

well put Jeff, Stafford grew up wanting to win a SUPER BOWL not a NC. Compare Tebow and Stafford, Tebow would be perfectly happy to win 3 NC at Fla and live the rest of his life in G’ville. He may or may not want to go to the NFL but that hasn’t been his dream, any FLA fan that says different then they would be lying. Stafford grew up wanting to win a Super Bowl for the Dallas Cowboys. So Tony you would turn down 40 million dollars guaranteed?


July 18th, 2009
6:34 pm

Stafford made a 38 on his Wonderlic!!!! Well push me over with a feather! Clearly he will be better than Joe Montana! Those NFL combine guys never get it wrong :/

dan loves dudes

July 18th, 2009
6:46 pm

Enter your comments here


July 18th, 2009
6:46 pm

who said he would be better than Montana?