“I dreamed of this,” Darrell Green says, waving his hand expansively around the comfortable yet elegant home he shares with his wife of 27 years. “I didn’t see this exact street of life, but with my marriage, my kids, I am close. I am definitely in the neighborhood.”
At 51, Green has had some time to consider just how that journey has unfolded. Retired in 2002, he is a football legend who won two Super Bowls, earned the title of NFL Fastest Man four times, and played for the same team for 20 years (“that’s 15 years longer than the typical player gets,” he points out). In 1991, he was named World’s Fastest Athlete.
He’s also a successful businessman and the founder of The Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, which helps inner city kids reach their potential. President George W. Bush appointed him Chairman of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, and he’s been honored repeatedly for his humanitarian work.
“Perspective is the key,” he says, sitting in his spacious kitchen while his wife, Jewell, and daughters wander in and out. “We’re very fortunate with our perspective. The world saw me as a Washington Redskin, but I always saw myself as a father and husband trying to take care of my family. I saw football as a job. That’s probably why I lasted 20 years at it.”
It was a job to which Green gave his all—he was voted Player of the Year several times—but he never lost sight of what was important to him. “My parents taught me the importance of stability and family,” he says. “My father had the same job for 30 years and that taught me longevity.” In fact, Green turned down several lucrative offers from other teams over the years in favor of keeping his family ensconced in the community they knew.
Originally from Houston, Green was 25 and a rookie Redskin when he met Jewell. They were engaged within six months, and he found an “unexpected blessing” in her being from the DC area, as it gave him a built-in family and the stability he craved. An added bonus: Having studied interior design in school, Jewell was able to create a beautiful home environment for the couple—and she’s been doing it ever since (though she now runs Posh Couture, an online fashion company).
For the past 11 years, the Greens have lived in a gracious Northern Virginia house, part of an NVHomes development. Perched on two acres that slope down behind, the property is definitely part of the neighborhood. Over the years, it has served as a magnet for their three kids (now all grown) and their friends. “The concept was a pool, basketball court, pool table and home theater,” says Jewell. “We wanted to bring the kids into the house.”
Inside, the style is traditional with a modern vibe imparted by vaulted ceilings and an open front entry. The layout includes formal living and dining rooms, a family room, a kitchen with an octagonal breakfast nook, six bedrooms and six baths. The basement, which Green designed, offers a home theater, a workout room and a bar/rec room. This level houses the sports memorabilia, including Green’s Hall of Fame bust, Fastest Man awards and original jersey. A mural depicting a favorite game covers one wall, while other walls are scattered with kids’ sports mementoes. In fact, son Jared, a recent graduate of UVA (where he played wide receiver), wants to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Jewell opted for “soothing colors” for the house, which they moved into during that period when kids and chaos were all around. She wanted the house to feel “lived in” for the family, yet formal enough to accommodate the social and fundraising events the couple frequently host.
In fact, their newest venture just went live recently. Even in retirement from football, Green continues to advocate fitness and exercise; he and his wife have created a Web site called WalkFitHealth Nation, which provides a social network for walkers to plug into. According to Green, everyone should walk 10,000 steps a day; join the network and receive a wireless pedometer the size of a quarter that tracks steps, calorie counts and other information.
“We are a thinking family,” Green says. “We are always thinking, ‘how can we live in a way that is valuable to ourselves and our community?’ That is what’s important.” He smiles and adds, “Oh, and by the way, I played for the Redskins.”
Photographer Bob Narod is based in Herndon, Virginia.