ARLINGTON, Texas -- When the New York Jets returned from the bye week in late October, they said goodbye to defensive tackle Howard Green. The reason, team sources said at the time, was because he was overweight -- about 360 pounds.
Don't look now, but the Fat Man is singing a redemption song.
Green is loving life at Super Bowl XLV as an important backup on the Green Bay Packers' defensive line. He showed up Tuesday for media day with a video camera in his left hand, recording the sights and sounds of the madness at Cowboys Stadium.
The big fella, claiming he's down to a svelte 350, insisted he harbors no bitterness toward Rex Ryan. But the more he talked about the Jets, the more it became clear he was stung by his unexpected release. It hit him so hard that, instead of flying home, he decided to drive -- 18 hours from the Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J., to New Orleans.
All he had was music, sunflower seeds and his thoughts as he rode the highways in his Ford F-450 truck.
"I had time to drive and clear my mind," Green said. "I didn't want to bring all that stuff to my house, being upset and angry at the time. My family thought I was crazy for doing it, but it let me clear my mind."
Just as he crossed the Mississippi border into Louisiana, Green received a call from his agent, telling him he had been claimed by the Packers, whose defensive line was decimated by injuries. Green got home, flew to Green Bay and played that Sunday, a total of 34 plays.
Against the Jets. How perfect was that? And, of course, he made a key play in the Packers' 9-0 victory, tackling Jerricho Cotchery behind the line on an end-around.
"I was mad, of course," Green said. "I had a lot of stuff I was going through and I let it out."
Green disputed the notion that he was released because of his weight, although he admitted it may have been a factor. Privately, the Jets were angry because they felt Green gained too much weight during the six-day break.
"It was something like that, but it wasn't all true," Green said. "That's why I don't get into it. There's too much stuff going back and forth."
The Packers were tickled that he became available. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers drafted Green in 2002 when he was the Houston Texans' head coach. Green is a 6-2 wide body, an ideal two-gap lineman in Capers' 3-4 scheme. He started the last two playoff games, helping to anchor the Packers' run defense.
"He's been like a diamond in the rough for us," defensive end Cullen Jenkins said.
Now Green gets the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream, winning a Super Bowl ring. His cousin, Jarvis Green, won two rings as a member of the New England Patriots. He used to try on his cousin's rings, imagining what it would be like to have his own. If they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, he will.
Green has come a long way from being overweight and unemployed. Asked if he was ever concerned by Green's weight, Packers GM Ted Thompson smiled.
"He looks pretty healthy to me," he said.