Everybody has a unique story, one to their own. Fifty-three college tryout players got their chance to showcase their skills last weekend at One Jets Drive including Mississippi College defender Gavin Greene. Greene is the son of one of the NFL's greatest pass rushers, Kevin Greene, who died in December 2020.
Kevin Greene coached outside linebackers for the Jets under Todd Bowles in 2017-18. Greene, who ranks third in career sacks (160), was a three-time first team All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL sacks leader. While he died of a heart attack at age 58, his son felt his presence on the fields KG taught on not too long ago.
"He's probably wanting to give me a bear hug and a head butt," Greene said. "I'm sure my dad is smiling down from heaven right now just so happy that despite his passing and all the adversity I've been through with that, that I overcame it and am here now. I hope that he's just overjoyed."
Greene finished his college career with 31 tackles in 10 games last season. After the Jets wrapped up their selections early in Round 4 on the draft's third day, Greene got a call about the possibility of a tryout.
"It was draft day, the fourth or fifth round on Saturday, and a scout, Dom Green called me," Greene said. "He was at my pro day at Jackson State with Deion Sanders and all that, and he called me and asked if I'd like to be part of the tryout. I said, 'Sign me up, let's make it happen.'"
Greene (6-4, 250), who started his college career at Southern Miss before transferring to Mississippi College, told reporters that his couple of days stint with New York's AFC representative at DE was invaluable.
"It's really helped my hands and a lot of my hand work and get-off work," he said. "The feedback has been great, but it's mostly been working on my hand speed and getting off, and just like treating every play like it's my last play."
On Monday, the Jets announced the signings of two tryout players, WR Calvin Jackson, Jr., and OL Derrick Kelly. Some participants could look elsewhere in the NFL for a shot while others will probably look to join a team inon in another league. But there are some guys who laced them up last weekend that might close the chapter on their football careers. Gavin Greene was grateful for his weekend opportunity, but a thousand times more thankful for each day he got to spend with his father.
"I just remember my dad being the biggest lover in my life," he said of KG, who as a young man ran recklessly toward quarterbacks with the long blonde locks and a wild man who participated in many wrestling matches in the WCW. "He supported everything I did, he made sure I tried every sport but never forced me to play. That's why my first year of football was seventh grade. I love my dad. Even though his time on this planet was cut short, me and my dad lived a thousand lives together."
When Kevin Greene walked the halls at the Atlantic Health Jets Training center, he affectionately referred to his outside linebackers as his "kids" and he'd talk about needing a "hunter's heart" to achieve great things. His son, Gavin, carried on that spirit at rookie camp.
"I love my dad, my dad and I had a very special relationship," he said. "The fact that I'm here, in the same facility, that he walked in and been in the same places that he was in here, is awesome. It's such an honor and following in my father's footsteps I think is the biggest honor a kid could have. I am just overjoyed at that thought."
Kevin Greene's impact is lasting as he lived life to its fullest and seemingly always jumped head-first into the action. His son embraced every second with the Jets.
"My dad was one of my biggest coaches throughout my life, and he always told me just give it your all and the more you think the more robotic you are," Gavin said. "And we're not robots, we're human. I just came in here and felt no pressure, I just came here to have fun and that's what I did. I had a total blast."