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BROWNS William Green polishes his image



Published: Sat, August 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The team hopes his substance abuse problems are in the past.

BEREA (AP) -- His hair is uncombed, sticking up and out at every angle imaginable. His face, thinned from an off-season spent mainly in the weight room, is covered with a thick, bushy beard.

At first glance, Browns running back William Green is not just scruffy but bears a striking resemblance to Miami's Ricky Williams.

"It's just for camp," Green said of his new look. "I've got nobody to look good for around here."

There's something else new about Green: a silver band on his left hand.

"Got married," Green said. "June 20, day after Father's Day."

Once on the verge of losing his family and throwing away his NFL career, Green has cleaned up his act.

These days, Green speaks with a clarity of mind and spirit. The 25-year-old player who as a teenager helped raise his six siblings in Atlantic City, N.J., after his parents died of AIDs, has finally grown up.

Was dazed and confused

It's been almost two years since he was suspended for eight games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. There's now some distance between an arrest for drunken driving, a domestic dispute when the woman he would eventually marry tried to stab him as well as a three-day jail stay.

When many counted Green out, he hung on and survived.

"That's my life, look at my past," he said. "That's who I am. I'll never quit. As long as I've got a chance, I'm never going to quit."

Green's commitment has kept him with the Browns, who have supported him through his troubles. But during the club's tumultuous past off-season, Green was given permission to seek a trade that never happened.

Soon after, Green's days in Cleveland appeared to be over when the Browns dealt for Reuben Droughns, a 1,200-yard rusher last season in Denver. But Green is still around, and after a week of training camp, not only is Green on the roster, but he's challenging Droughns and Lee Suggs for a starting job.

"He's doing pretty good," first-year Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "He's still out there in the rotation, so that's a plus."

Responsibility talk

Not long after arriving in Cleveland, Crennel sat down with Green and explained to the fourth-year back what he expected of him -- on and off the field. Crennel told him to act responsibly, work hard and that good things would happen.

Green, who had already been taking the proper steps to get his life turned around, appreciated Crennel's advice. He was especially grateful that Crennel chose not to judge him on his past.

"Coach Crennel didn't know who I was," Green said. "He just kind of knew of me and he loved me good or bad. And, he gave me a chance."

Crennel has seen signs of Green's renewed commitment.

"I think he realizes that maybe some of the things that happened in his youth are not the way that you want to live your life," Crennel said. "He came to that determination with some help, but he's made that determination. I think he's applied himself to this game and to life in general.

Hopefully he'll keep doing that, and he'll turn out to be a great individual."

Green burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2002 after the Browns selected him in the first round of the draft.

Using a vicious stiff arm, he rushed for 887 yards and led the Browns to the AFC playoffs. He was on his way to another big season in '03 when his off-field troubles began to mount.

Last season began with promise, too, but his production began slipping.

The low point was when Green was ejected before a game Nov. 14 against Pittsburgh for fighting with Steelers linebacker Joey Porter during warmups.




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