Georgia’s A.J. Green just got drafted this past Thursday by the Cincinnati Bengals with the fourth pick of the NFL draft. Matthew Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick two years ago. But at the moment, neither one has anywhere to play football. So what to do?
Play golf, of course.
Green and Stafford were among several Georgia football lettermen who came back to Athens on Monday to participate in a celebrity pro-am for the Stadion Classic Tournament at UGA. They were joined by recent graduates Mohammed Massaquoi, Kris Durham, Shaun Chapas and David Greene and older graduates such as Lindsay Scott and Kevin Butler.
I talked to several of them and will share their thoughts and comments eventually. But A.J. Green was a particularly fun interview, seeing how he effectively just hit the lottery this past week.
I found it surprising and somewhat refreshing that Green was here helping raise money for his alma mater instead of sunning in the South of France or trying to strike an endorsement deal with Right Guard deodorant in New York or some such thing. But that’s not Green’s style, as we’ve all come to know.
Mostly, Green told me, he was just happy to have the draft behind him.
“It’s definitely one of the best feelings in the world, just to know that I’ve done well after all the hard work I’ve put in,” said Green, standing next to his new, black Porsche Panamera 4S in the parking lot of the UGA Golf Course. “It feels good that it’s all paid off. I feel like a new man with all this weight off my shoulders.”
Well, not all the weight. There was the matter of the golf tournament to play in. And while the 6-foot-5 Green is quite the football player, he’s not much of a golfer. The only other time he had played was this spring when he was training for the draft out in Phoenix. So he was nervous.
“I really haven’t played at all,” he said. “I’m terrible.”
But Green was in luck. Two of golf’s greats happened to be on the practice tee where he and his borrowed clubs were to get acquainted.
Chip Beck, a longtime pro and one of only a few men on Earth to shoot 59 in a professional golf tournament, took a special interest in Green. After taking a picture of Green with his son, Beck set about giving him a personal lesson. Green also got a few pointers from Bubba Watson, the world’s No. 10-ranked player.
Here’s some video:
Finally, I asked Green about his reception in Cincinnati. Seems the humble Green was a breath of fresh air for media and fans there.
“That’s just to type of guy I am,” Green said. “I’m kind of a quiet guy who goes about my business. I’m a little different than Chad [Ochocinco], but Chad’s a great receiver. I’m just trying to go in there and make an impact.”
Green said he had no idea when the lockout might get resolved. Therefore, has no idea when he might get paid.
“I don’t even know when it’s all supposed to get done,” he said. “I think it will. I’m just ready to get back to work.”
As for advice on how to spend his time between now and then, Green said head coach Marvin Lewis told him, “just learn the playbook.”
For Monday at least, golf would have to do.