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Time has flown by for Tulare native Virgil Green.
The 2006 Tulare Union High School graduate is entering his 10th professional season in the National Football League.
A decade into his career, Green has already reached the pinnacle of his sport.
In 2016, Green won Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Denver Broncos.
Now in his third season with the Los Angeles Chargers, the 32-year-old tight end is taking a similar approach to the game.
“I treat it like any other year,” Green said. “You got to go out there in training camp and earn the right to be on the team. It’s no different than any other year. It just takes a little bit longer for me to warm up now.”
The Chargers kick off the 2020 season against the Cincinnatti Bengals on Sept. 13 at Paul Brown Stadium in Ohio.
“I’m extremely excited,” Green said. “I’m in year 10. I don’t know when the road is going to end but I know I’m on that side of the road. I just want to ball, play well and have fun. Compete for a championship. Do whatever my team needs of me. Whatever my team asks of me to contribute.”
A driven player
Drafted out of Nevada in the seventh round in 2011, Green carved a pro career by being a productive blocking tight end in the NFL.
That commitment to his craft takes work, especially in the offseason.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organized team activities were not held in the offseason this year.
But Green was still driven, dedicating himself to stay fit physically in the weight room.
“I got really strong,” Green said. “I’m happy about the work I did this offseason. Not only did I get stronger but I did a lot to prepare my body for this season at the age that I’m at.”
A key focus for Green was working on his hips.
“They say the first thing that goes away in an athlete are the hips,” Green said. “So I did a lot of things to get my hips activated. I worked on my shoulders, my core. Things like that just to make sure I’m prepared for the season regardless of what happens.”
With no minicamps, Green didn’t limit himself in the offseason.
Since he had more time to recover from his own workouts, unlike season’s past, the former Tulare Union standout actually increased his workload.
“I was able to train longer and harder knowing that I had time to recover,” Green said.
One day at a time
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Green has played in 131 NFL regular-season games throughout his career.
In his first nine seasons, while serving primarily as a blocking tight end, Green recorded 99 catches for 1,095 yards and six touchdowns.
Although he’s an option as a pass-catcher, Green is at his best in the trenches.
“I’ve made a living in this league being a dominant run blocker and a dominant pass protector,” Green said. “I’ve done some things in the passing game but I’m always looking to improve on being available and making sure that my teammates and coaches know that they can depend and count on me.”
With his 10th season in the NFL approaching, Green realizes his chapter as a pro football player may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
He has already educated himself about life after football.
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Green said. “I think I can do whatever my passion is. One of the things I do enjoy is I like to cook breakfast. I’ve thought about going to culinary school and learning a few things. Maybe have my own breakfast truck at some point. I enjoy watching people enjoy the breakfast that I cook.”
From Tulare Union to Nevada to the NFL, it’s been a special journey for Green.
“I’m extremely grateful that I’ve been able to play this long in the National Football League,” Green said. “Throughout my whole career, I’ve taken it one day at a time and made sure when I’m on the field, I’m doing what I’m coached to do.”
Following his dreams
Green knew he wanted to play college football when he was at Tulare Union.
During his senior season in 2005, Green caught 61 passes for 1,014 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.
That standout season led him to Reno.
And it was at Nevada during his sophomore campaign where Green made an investment to play in the NFL.
That dream became a reality in 2011 when he was drafted by the Broncos.
How did Green reach the NFL?
“I invested time,” Green said. “Not only did I invest that time but I did it with exuberance. I would wake up for 6 a.m. workouts excited to go train. Excited to go show my coaches and my teammates that, ‘You can count on me.’ “
What advice does Green have for high school football players whose seasons were postponed until next year?
“Take advantage of this time,” Green said. “Use this time to get bigger, stronger, faster. If you know anybody who knows the game, pick their brain so you can kind of understand things at a deeper level. Just work on your craft. Use this time to perfect your craft. Get better. If going to play college ball is something you want to do, you have to invest some things. You have to sacrifice some things. You might not be able to hang out with some people because they’re not on the same mission as you. Don’t be a follower. Do what you need to do to be successful.”
Vongni Yang is a sports reporter for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. He covers Tulare County sports. Follow him on Twitter @Vongni. To support his continued coverage of local sports, subscribe today.