It's a staple of Rex Ryan's just-begun head-coaching career, of Eric Mangini's plan before him — of every NFL coach everywhere, no doubt: Give me a player who loves to play this game.
Howard Green clearly loves to play this game.
"For me, it's about just being consistent, staying the course, believing in yourself, never giving up on your dream," said Green, the defensive tackle who signed with the Jets a month ago. "It's crazy how things turn around. Most people, I would think, would just say 'The heck with it, I'm done.' "
Not Green. To put it in perspective for Green & White fans, he is this year's Hank Poteat. He's a little bigger, at 6'2" and 320, than the former Jets cornerback, and Hank's had a few more career transactions on his résumé, but not many:
* Green has made eight NFL stops with seven different franchises.
* He was released six times before finally becoming an unrestricted free agent this year.
* He sat out the 2005 and '06 seasons.
That last fact alone attests to Green's tenacity. The Saints made him a final cut in 2005 and the Dolphins let him go after their 2006 training camp. Each season he waited for the next job offer but nothing came.
Yet not once did Green think about going into construction or some other non-football endeavor. For one thing, football's in his family tree — he, New England DE Jarvis Green and New Orleans WR Skyler Green are all cousins from Louisiana and LSU.
For another, said the man all his teammates have always called H.G., "I love my job. This is what I do. You just have to find your place, know your role, know what your job is and what's expected of you, and go from there."
Connections don't hurt, either, and one finally came through for the likable Green. One of his early stops was in 2003, when the Ravens acquired him on waivers from the Texans and turned him over to their defensive line coach, one Rex Ryan. As has been heard many times already, Ryan made a great impression on him, even though he was with Baltimore for not quite two months.
And clearly Green made an impression on Ryan.
"He made a phone call to me" at the start of the free agency signing period this year, Green said. "It was surprising to hear from him. We talked about getting a trip set up. I was very excited to have the opportunity to be in the free agent market."
But Green didn't savor the freedom for very long. He visited the Jets and soon after he made them his seventh NFL team.
"I had a chance to recapture that," he said of finding a new team and new teammates that have embraced him as he has them. "I know what my job is and I appreciate that, more than some of the young ones who are coming in right now because they take it for granted."
He's with former Ravens teammates Bart Scott and Marques Douglas just a few lockers away. Across the room is fellow LSU alumnus Alan Faneca. Former Tennessee Vol Shaun Ellis and he share SEC war stories.
And there is Kris Jenkins, one of the Jets Green will work behind. He's picked up a few moves from Big Jenk over the years. On this particular day the two lifted together in the strength program, attended their DL meeting, then hit the blocking sleds together.
That's roughly 680 pounds of DT that loves being a Jet and loves the NFL. The sleds never had a chance.
Here is a list of Green's NFL stops since he was a sixth-round pick of the Texans in 2002: