By BRIAN LANDMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000
TAMPA -- Speedy wide receiver Jacquez Green, a former University of Florida star, has had a passion for football virtually his entire life.
He just didn't show it right away.
At least publicly.
Green could have played organized football for the first time in 1982, but despite the urgings of his family, the 6-year-old politely declined all overtures to join the recreation team in Fort Valley, Ga.
"I was real small," said Green, who even now at 5 feet 9 and 168 pounds is not physically imposing, "and I was real scared."
Instead, he played it safe.
He played around the house ... with his 4-year-old cousin, Kearston.
"He used to make her sit on the floor with him, and he would make up (football) plays with these toy figurines he had," his aunt Rosa Worsham said. "Kearston wanted to play with her dolls, but Jacquez used to tell her, "Kearston, if you sit here and play with me, help me make my plays, I'll play with you and your dolls.' "
Watching her nephew design intricate, imaginative plays hour after hour at such an early age convinced Worsham that Green had a rare gift. She knew that one day he could be something extraordinary if only he would overcome his fear and get out of the house and into the fray.
She took it upon herself to help him.
"My aunt encouraged me to play," Green said. "My cousin (Worsham's son, Marquac) played, so she was trying to tell my mom to let me play. But I used to have so much fun playing around the house, I didn't think it could get any better than that."
But Marquac, who was three years older, was like a brother; he and Green were together except when Marquac went onto the football field.
Those chalk lines were like the Berlin Wall.
"(Green) wanted to play, but he didn't want to get hit," his aunt said. "He'd say, "I'm going to get beat up, and they're going to roll me over, they're going to do this to me, they're going to do that to me.'
"I said, "Why don't you just play anyway. I'll pay for the first time, and if you don't like it, you can quit.' But he kept being scared."
Worsham didn't give up.
Two years later, Green acquiesced. He was still the smallest youngster on the field, looking like a 6-year-old among 8-year-olds, Worsham said, but he gave organized football a try. He hasn't stopped.
"That was the first time I played with older guys," Green said. "I learned I had to get over my scared mode."
"It's a blessing from God," his aunt said. "He didn't want to play at first; he really didn't. But I kept up on him, kept on him, and finally he decided he was going to play. ... And he took off like a 747 jet, and he's been going ever since."
Q: Jacquez, if you could go back to 1982 and tell yourself something, what would it be?
A: I'd tell myself to try to do math better. I'm terrible at math. Math builds up each year, and if you don't have the basics down, you have trouble when you're older.
Q: Did you watch the Super Bowl in 1982?
A: No. The first Super Bowl I remember was in 1986.
Jan. 24, 1982
49ers 26, Bengals 21
MVP: Joe Montana, 49ers quarterback (one rushing touchdown, one passing; leads a Super Bowl-record 92-yard TD drive).
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From the wire
From the state sports wire
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