After starring in the NFL, Ahman Green turns his eyes to esports

For 12 seasons, Ahman Green played as a running back in the NFL, earning multiple appearances as a Pro Bowler and a spot in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. But following his retirement in 2011, Green, who briefly coached several high school teams, decided to turn to a different sport: professional gaming.

For the former football player, gaming has always been a lifelong passion, he told In The Know.

“When I was a kid, I just had sports and games,” he told In The Know. “Age five, when I started playing ColecoVision, played Donkey Kong … long weekends, playing out every level of Donkey Kong, which was only probably like 10 levels.”

When the Nintendo system was released in the 1980s, Green played other games as well, including Super Mario and Contra. Around the same time, he also started to play baseball and football, but his interest in gaming never wavered. After he retired from the NFL, for example, he hosted “True Game Fans Network,” a weekly esports talk show.

In February, Green’s big break into esports came when he received a call from a friend who worked at Lakeland University in Plymouth, Wis. The college had just launched its esports program and was looking to fill a head coach position.

“I knew, right away, me having a background in traditional sports, how that would marry to being a head coach of esports,” Green said.

According to the university’s website, students in the program compete in a variety of games, including League of Legends, Overwatch, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Fortnite and Madden. In June, the college even refashioned a 3,000-square-foot space into what it described as a “state-of-the-art” esports arena — complete with eight gaming stations, six consoles and a lounge area to accommodate its players.

Ultimately, though, Green said his goal is to not only shape the program’s members into better players but also better students.

“My main goal, at the end of day, when they graduate, they got their degree and they have their mind directed somewhere, I can say to myself, ‘I helped them get there and be a well-rounded gamer and a well-rounded human being at the end of the day,'” he said.

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