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Green’s goal: Pro Bowl in 2000

April 25, 1997

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ The green and red letters on the black T-shirts worn by Darrell Green’s three children proclaim a seemingly impossible goal.

``Darrell Green, Pro Bowl 2000.″

If anyone can do it, Green can.

The 37-year-old cornerback signed a five-year, $12.5 million contract Friday with the Washington Redskins. While the length of the contract allows Washington to give Green a $2 million signing bonus without breaking the salary cap, Green dismissed the financial maneuvering and accepted it as a challenge.

``Someone said this morning it’s a good bet that I won’t play the whole five years,″ said Green, the Redskins’ 1983 first-round draft choice. ``I won’t be standing up here six years from now signing a new contract, I guarantee you that. But I might be standing up here five years from now saying, `I did it _ and bye. I’m out of here.′ ″

Just to drive the point home, the three-time winner of the ``NFL’s fastest man″ title went onto the practice field after signing the contract and ran 4.30 seconds in the 40-yard dash on the first day of minicamp.

``This guy’s an exception,″ general manager Charley Casserly said. ``I don’t think you can do too many of these type situations on your football team. A player at 36 that made the Pro Bowl, still playing at a high level.″

It’s unheard of _ if not unprecedented _ for an NFL cornerback to play into his 40s. If Green retires before the contract expires, the Redskins will have to swallow the balance of the signing bonus _ which is prorated over the life of the contract _ in one season.

But the deal gives Washington temporary relief this season as negotiations continue with quarterback Gus Frerotte and defensive tackle Sean Gilbert with little cap room to spare.

`Is five years a little bit of a risk on our part? Sure it is,″ Casserly said. ``But if you’re going to reach out, you’re going to reach out for Darrell Green.″

In the free-agent era, Green is a rarity _ a player who will spend his entire career with one team.

This marks the second time Green has refused to visit another team while an unrestricted free agent.

``There’s just nowhere else that I could ever play football. Everybody knew that,″ he said. ``This is our home and this is our team, and there’s nothing for us to do but get back to the Super Bowl.″

Green has become the team’s unofficial patriarch, counseling younger players in matters of family, finance and religion. He also has established the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation charity in Washington, D.C., and is one of just four players remaining from the Redskins’ last Super Bowl season in 1991.

``We use him as an example constantly. The players, I’m sure, get tired of me talking about him,″ coach Norv Turner said. ``He finds the time to get himself in shape. He finds the time to get the work done, and it’s not an accident that he runs faster than any guy on our football team.″

Green, entering his 15th season, has played in 202 games for Washington, 14 short of Monte Coleman’s team record. He made his sixth Pro Bowl appearance in February, and his 43 career interceptions place him second behind Green Bay’s Eugene Robinson among active players.

``I’m not planning to let anybody play ahead of me,″ Green said. ``I’m not planning to lose my edge. I want to compete. I want to be the best. I want the team to be the best. ... There’s no slowdown in this guy here at all.″

Notes: First-round draft choice Kenard Lang was limited in practice because of a twisted ankle sustained during his tryout with the Redskins last month. ... Four players recovering from offseason surgery _ defensive end Sterling Palmer, long snapper Trevor Matich, guard Bob Dahl and receiver Michael Westbrook _ saw little or no action. Tight end James Jenkins, who sprained his ankle playing basketball earlier this month, also sat out. ... The Redskins said they will not offer contracts to defensive end Tony Woods and linebackers Darrick Brownlow and Matt Vanderbeek. All three were deemed expendable by last weekend’s draft, when the team selected six defensive players.

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