Trent Green is set for a homecoming this weekend to a place where things could have been much different.
The former Vianney High School quarterback is to be the analyst on CBS’ telecast of the Steelers-Rams game Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, the same building in which 16 years ago he was poised to be leading the revamped Rams in what became their storybook run to the Super Bowl title as more than a 200-1 preseason longshot.
But the chapter on Green in that storybook is short — he suffered a knee injury in an exhibition game, on a vicious hit by San Diego’s Rodney Harrison, and his season was done. Kurt Warner emerged from obscurity to replace him, became the talk of American sports with his league MVP performance and Green’s days were numbered with the club. He did make five starts the following season when Warner was hurt, throwing for 12 touchdowns and averaging 339 yards passing, but was traded to Kansas City the next spring.
Had the injury not occurred it could have been Green, who had been signed several months earlier, guiding fellow newcomers Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt along with holdover Isaac Bruce and the rest of the “Greatest Show on Turf.” And it might have been Green, not Warner, who currently is being talked about as a possible Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Now, more than a decade and a half later, with a trip looming back to the place where much of that magic unfurled, Green naturally thinks about what might have been. Who wouldn’t?
“You see former teammates who are up for the Hall of Fame. You wonder what would have happened if I never got hurt. Who knows? I could have been there 10 more years. I could have been there two more years. Who knows? But there are a lot of what-ifs.”
And a lot of good memories, too.
“That was a special team, a special time for the Rams,” he said. “A lot of close friends and teammates. I would have loved to have had that opportunity, but that wasn’t in the plans, and I’m glad I got an opportunity to continue my career in Kansas City and glad it worked out from a playing standpoint.”
Green had a stellar run with the Chiefs, starting all their games for the first five years after he arrived and throwing for more than 4,000 yards three times. He was selected for two Pro Bowls and in 2004 threw a league-high 556 passes, for 4,591 yards — No. 2 in the NFL — and still holds numerous team records.
He eventually ended up in Miami for a short time before ending his career in 2008 back with the Rams, for whom he played three games.
He had done some broadcast work while playing, including making Monday morning appearances with Dan Dierdorf on KTRS (550 AM) in 1999. Then he made the transition to the booth in 2009, when Fox hired him as an analyst for several game telecasts.
But he was replaced the next season by — you guessed it — Warner (who now is at NFL Network) as Green moved to radio to do the Thursday night NFL game nationally on the Westwood One network.
There’s another strange twist for Green.
He was broadcasting a playoff game in January 2014 for Westwood One, which was the finale for Dierdorf — who was retiring from his storied network NFL broadcasting career that included long runs on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” then at CBS.
In addition to knowing Dierdorf from those KTRS days, Dierdorf had covered quite a few of Green’s games with the Chiefs.
So when broadcast partner Ian Eagle said he wanted to say hello that day to Dierdorf and partner Greg Gumbel, Green was eager to do so, too. But unbeknownst to him, he would be the one hired by CBS to replace Dierdorf.
“I wanted to go down and congratulate Dan on a great career, just say ‘Hi,’ certainly not knowing I would be joining that booth a year later with Greg and a lot of people from that crew,” Green said.
Green’s broadcast career was taking hold. He also has appeared as a panelist on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” show as well as being an analyst on Chiefs exhibition game broadcasts.
CBS was happy to get him.
“Trent’s experience and knowledge of the game, success as an NFL studio analyst and radio broadcaster, combined with his contemporary take on today’s NFL, make him a perfect fit to an already deep roster,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said when he hired Green.
It’s funny how things work out. Green replaced twice by Warner. Green replacing Dierdorf.
And Green, who has settled in the Kansas City area, added another item to that list of twist last year when his son T.J. was the quarterback for Rockhurst High, which made it to the Missouri Class 6 championship game before losing 31-24 to CBC. That contest was played in the Dome, and it was as special a day for the father as it was for his son.
“To be back in the Dome, as a fan watching my son play on that field, was a cool experience for me and the rest of my family,’’ he said. “For years they were sitting up there watching me. It was kind of neat to be sitting up with them watching him.”
Now the elder Green is spending his time watching a lot of tape and doing his own homework.
He appears frequently on CBS Sports Network, as a commentator on the “NFL Monday QB” program that’s on at 5 p.m. Mondays and also is on CBS’ Sunday morning pregame programming. And he has a weekly radio appearance in Kansas City.
It’s a busy schedule during the football season.
“It’s pretty much seven days a week,’’ he said. “Tuesday through Friday is prep at home, either watching film and studying tape or reading articles and trying to learn rosters and depth chart and personnel.”
The after being at the site of the game he’s broadcasting for the weekend, he spends Monday “cramming all day” to prepare for his appearance on CBS Sports Network that day. “Then Tuesday around noon we have our first production meeting” for the next week’s game.
But he enjoys his new career.
“I’d much rather be on the field playing, I miss that aspect of it and I’m not sure when that will ever go away,” he said. “I still miss playing. But it’s been a good transition, it keeps me in the game and allows me to be the dad I want to be and the husband I want to be. So it has worked out well.”
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