American Football Database
Willie Green
No. 82, 85, 86     
Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1966-04-02) April 2, 1966 (age 56)
Place of birth: Athens, Georgia
Career information
College: Mississippi
NFL Draft: 1990 / Round: 8 / Pick: 194
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
*Detroit Lions ( 1990 1993)
Career highlights and awards
* 2x Super Bowl Champion (XXXII, XXXIII)
Receptions     237
Receiving yards     3,720
Receiving TDs     26
Stats at

Willie Aaron Green (born April 2, 1966) is a former professional American football wide receiver who played for the Detroit Lions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers, and the Denver Broncos in the National Football League. He played college football at the University of Mississippi.

Early years

Green was born April 2, 1966 in Athens, Georgia to politically active parents Willie and Corene.[1] He played football in 1984 and 1985 at Clarke Central, where he was not widely considered the best player on either team. Green himself admitted "I couldn't compete with them... The bottom line is I never thought I would play a professional sport in anything."[2] He transferred to the Tennessee Military Institute for his senior year.[2]


Green decided not to return to Athens and the University of Georgia, instead attending Ole Miss. He later commented his family encouraged him to cut childhood ties, and attend school in "a small country town (Oxford, Mississippi) so the only thing you could do was get your education and go to school. There wasn't enough room for trouble."[3] The lack of distractions paid off. After a 200-yard freshman season in 1986, Green led the Rebels in receiving yards each of the next three seasons, including a then-record 816 yards his senior year in tandem with future pro-bowl tight end Wesley Walls to finish his career with a then-school-record 2,274 yards. He was in the SEC's top 10 each of these three years in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns,[4] and was named second-team All-SEC as a senior.[2] As of 2017, he ranks 6th in career receiving yards, 7th for a single season, and 9th in career touchdowns.[5]

Ole Miss Statistics[4]

Year G Rec Yds Avg TD
1986 10 13 222 17.1 2
1987 11 34 588 17.3 3
1988 11 38 648 17.1 4
1989 11 41 816 19.9 3
Career 0 126 2274 18 12

NFL career

Green nearly went undrafted in 1990, finally being selected by the Detroit Lions in the 8th round (194th overall). A shoulder injury side-lined him his entire first season. However, in 1991 he emerged as the team's leading touchdown receiver with 7 TD, and finished third in yardage as part of a balanced receiving trio with Brett Perriman and Robert Clark. In the first round of the playoffs, Green had 8 receptions for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over the Dallas Cowboys.[6] Despite consistent play in the three seasons from 1991-1993, he was always overshadowed by all-star running back Barry Sanders and other receivers. "I've never been a superstar on any team... Every team I've been on, I've had to fight to stay alive," Green commented in 2000.[2] With the emergence of Herman Moore, Green was cut.

He was signed to a one-year deal by Tampa Bay,[7] where he had just 9 receptions in five appearances coming off the bench.

In 1995, the brand-new Carolina Panthers claimed him prior to the expansion team's first season. Despite starting only seven games, Green amassed 882 yards and a team-leading 6 touchdown receptions. In game 15 against Atlanta, he caught 89 yard game-winning touchdown (the second longest in team history)[8] as part of a record-setting 36.8 yards-per-catch afternoon,[9] and his fourth 100+ yard receiving game of the season. His 18.77 yards per reception in 1995 is still a franchise record As of 2017. Green recorded 46 receptions and 614 yards in 10 starts in the 1996 season.

Green finished his career in grand style, winning two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in 1997 and 1998. He started just two games, and contributed just three post-season receptions to the two championship runs.

NFL Statistics[10]

Year Tm G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng Y/G Fmb
1991 DET 16 15 39 592 15.2 7 73 37 0
1992 DET 15 13 33 586 17.8 5 73 39.1 1
1993 DET 16 6 28 462 16.5 2 47 28.9 0
1994 TAM 5 0 9 150 16.7 0 28 30 0
1995 CAR 16 7 47 882 18.8 6 89 55.1 1
1996 CAR 15 10 46 614 13.3 3 50 40.9 0
1997 DEN 16 1 19 240 12.6 2 31 15 0
1998 DEN 15 1 16 194 12.1 1 50 12.9 0
Career 114 53 237 3,720 15.7 26 89 32.6 2

Later life

Green was active in his community as a teen, college player, and professional, contributing to community causes in his home of Athens, Georgia.[3] His unusual civic involvement earned him the nickname "The Mayor of Shelby" during his time with the Carolina Panthers.[1] He worked for several years as the owner of a local golf course and owner of a small check-cashing franchise.[2] In 2011, he returned to college at Gardner–Webb University, finishing the last 30 credit hours of a degree he began at Ole Miss. Following graduation, he became a vice-president of the lender World Acceptance Corporation.[1]