Posted by: marcmwm | December 29, 2008

Millions of pros to go pro

TAMPA, Fla. — Pro, money. Con, injury. Pro, exploring this thing they call the “next level.” Con, school.

“College is pretty fun,” Iowa running back Shonn Greene said Monday. “I like being around my teammates and all the other student-athletes and the whole student body of a program.”

Do you like school? You know, homework and all that?

“School’s all right,” Greene said. “It’s something you’ve got to do. You’ve got to have something to fall back on. Football isn’t going to last forever. You’ve got to get your thing done in class.”

Greene has gone through the formality of submitting paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board. He has no timetable on the decision to leave Iowa and enter the NFL draft as  a junior. Right now, his mind is on Thursday’s Outback Bowl matchup with South Carolina.

But let’s not kid ourselves here. Greene has a gigantic, life-changing decision to make.

The magic number Greene has in his head is the second round. If he’s projected to go lower, he’ll consider staying in school.

The last running back taken in the first round last season was the Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson. He signed a five-year $12 million contract with $7 million guaranteed. The Chicago Bears’ Matt Forte was the first running back taken in the second round. His contract is four years at $3.781 million with $2 million guaranteed.

Baltimore’s Ray Rice was the final running back picked in the second round. His deal is four years for $2.85 million. The first running back in the third round was the Detroit Lions’ Kevin Smith, whose deal is three years for $1.79 million.

Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall was the 23rd pick in the first round. His contract with the Steelers is five years for $14 million with $10.795 guaranteed.

“I’m not Mel Kiper doing the draft board,” senior center Rob Bruggeman said. “I guess a pro would probably be money, I would assume. I think you get paid to play football in the NFL.”

Let’s not kid ourselves, the financials are a factor here.

Greene’s parents divorced early in his life. He chose to live with his grandmother, Cheryl Greene. He has a big heart with “Cheryl” tattooed in the middle of it on his neck. If that doesn’t say what his grandmother means to him, then what else can a guy do?

“She’s probably the No. 1 woman in my life right now,” Greene said. “She raised me. I have a lot of love for her, a lot of respect. I pretty much owe her this whole ordeal here.

“She’s a great woman. I owe her the world.”

Yes, of course, he’d love to provide for his grandmother.

“I think that’s one of my top priorities. I want to be able to give back to them,” Greene said. “A lot of my success is basically from my family. Whether it be this year or next year, that’ll be one of my top priorities.”

Pro, money. Con, age.

Part of Greene’s story is the academics issues. He originally signed with Iowa in 2004. He failed to achieve a test score and had to go the prep school route. In June 2006, he had to leave school again because of academics and that’s where the whole Kirkwood/McGregor’s Furniture chapter kicks in.

Because of the back and forth with school, Greene is a junior but is 23 years old. He will turn 24 before the next football season starts, wherever that may be for him, Green Bay, Cincinnati or Iowa City.

“NFL-wise, they look at that,” Greene said. “I’m completely aware of that. That goes into the decision making. That plays a role.”

Con, injury.

This is a big deal. Greene suffered an ankle injury against Indiana on Oct. 11. It was injury enough to have coach Kirk Ferentz say in his Big Ten Network interview after the Wisconsin game, that Greene was touch-and-go at times during the week.

Bum ankle or not, the numbers speak for themselves. He put up the best season ever by an Iowa running back, setting the season record with 1,729 yards and tying the season record with 17 rushing TDs.

He claimed the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top running back.

Greene, who’s heard from agents but has kept his distance, hasn’t had the monstrous number of carries some other backs have had in their college careers, but his style is part runaway train. That takes a physical toll.

“I pretty much did a lot here, so seeing what the whole NFL thing would be like (would be a reason to go),” he said. “Injuries, helping my family get financially situated. Those are a couple good reasons right there.”

Why stay again?

“Just doing it over again,” he said, “proving that I’m not a one-hit wonder type of thing. Trying to compete for a Big Ten championship.”

Those are two sound reasons to stay. There will be millions of reasons to go.




  1. Hmm. Greene Bay? I like that.

    Bruggeman’s comments were dry like Melba Toast and cracked me up. Yes, money may play a factor here, but Greene contributes to the program by becoming a well-paid professional player. Another in a line of personal successes that help recruiting. He may have had academic issues, but he’s not an American Idiot and I predict a big Greene Day soon….

  2. I’ve said it before but, as much as I enjoy watching Greene play and as great as he’s been at Iowa, I don’t see him going in the first round. Best case scenario is he’s a high 2nd. NFL GMs are starting to realize the RB position just isn’t one to spend $10M+ on. You can find high-value, solid running backs in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The lifespan of an NFL RB is too short to spend the big bucks on.

    With that said, I think Greene will make an impact in the NFL. His running style is well-suited to the faster, stronger league. He’s shown his ability to run around and through bigger, stronger players.

  3. MF is right on and that’s about the only thing that may bring him back to IC for another year.

    It would be wonderful, and we’d be a top 10 preseason team, but I will be shocked if he does come back.

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