By: Isha “Ice” Cole
While professional athletes have power and influence, many of them spend time trying to make a difference in their communities. Jarvis Green, defensive lineman for the Houston Texans, exemplifies the heart of a man who is investing his time in doing something great off the field.
The fourth round 28th pick in the 2002 draft, Jarvis won two Superbowls with the New England Patriots, the team he played with for eight years before heading to Texas. During the course of his career, he had 28 sacks, 152 total tackles and named Defensive Player of the Week several times.
In 2007, Green received an award for his hard work in the New England community, and a year later founded the Jarvis Green Foundation, which aides single working mothers.
Aside from football, his foundation, and other side projects, Green also landed in the top 100 on the second season of Gordon Ramsay’s competitive culinary show MasterChef. No matter the cause, Jarvis Green is not afraid of any challenges that may appear in his path.
In this exclusive UrbLife interview, Jarvis Green discusses adjusting to a new team, his feelings on on the reality show Masterchef, the Jarvis Green Foundation, the NFL Lockout and more!
What was it like growing up in Donaldsonville, Louisiana?
Jarvis Green: Donaldsville is a small country town of about 10,000 people. When I say country, we do have roads; we don’t ride on dirt roads. It’s a real community, everybody knew each other, and a lot of people were related in some kind of way.
How did growing up in this small country town prepare you for your future?
JG: It was my parents and the foundation they built that prepared me. My mom and dad would always give back to the church no matter what. My dad was disabled and my parents raised five kids in the house, so we didn’t have much. We were very thankful for everything that we had and the things we got. My parents raised us to care and give back.
How was the transition from growing up without much to being an NFL player making great money?
JG: I guess that’s like all the people that win the lottery and the percentages of how many of them go bankrupt. I think it was easier because of everything I’ve been through, having a praying family, and a God fearing family. I always made sure that no matter what happens that I see things clear and that I have a level minded head about everything.
Talk to us about the importance of investing your money.
JG: I remember when I first came into the league; I did some serious things about getting trusts, annuities, and long term investments to set up my family. For me, that was the biggest thing because if anything happened to me they’d be okay and safe. That was the first thing I did with my money.
You were with the Patriots for eight seasons. How was the adjustment of moving to the Houston Texans?
JG: When my contract was up, I wanted to experience something different. I wanted to see the other side of the fence, and I didn’t care what color the grass was, I just wanted to do it. For me, I could have stayed in New England, things would’ve been worked out, and that would’ve been a perfect world, but I’m a risk taker with things I’ve been doing in my life.
I have the confidence in myself, my ability, in the things I can do on and off the field. I went to the Denver Broncos, it didn’t work out, and I got cut the last day of training camp. I wasn’t mad, I was upset, but that was a chance that I took, a risk that we took as a family.
As far as my life, I think things happen for a reason too, and God put me in certain situations that I learned so much from and he knows what we can’t handle and what we can.
You won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots – what did that feel like?
JG: See, it’s such an amazing feeling, because I’ve been playing football since I was in seventh grade, so in all it has been about 17 years. In this sport you go through the bumps, the bruises, the surgeries, the injuries, and the ups and downs. It’s not perfect, and to get to the top, that’s very hard.
For me it wasn’t one Superbowl, it was two; I played in three, but it’s all about that experience. How many people can say that they’ve been in the Superbowl or had a chance to play at a higher level and had a chance to win. Its wild, something you can’t take for granted, and I thank God that I experienced those feelings.
What are some pros and cons of being a professional athlete?
JG: I think the pros are the experiences, the travel, the friends, the money that you make, and the things that you can do with the money that you make. The cons are that you always have people pulling on you, everybody wants you to be their scapegoat, their savior, and people ask you for favors all the time.
That is worse especially for the guys that you always see on TV and then not having a personal life because people see them out in the streets they want autograph or pictures. I’ve been blessed though; I played nine years, and made a lot of money.
You were recently on the reality show MasterChef. What is one thing you took away from that experience?
JG: The most interesting thing I noticed while observing others around me was that I was able to see how people act in certain situations. Thank God football helped me, so I was just having fun no matter what the outcome.
What is your outlook on the NFL Lockout?
JG: I think everything is going to work out. We have two different sides, and eventually they’ll come to an agreement that is feasible for everyone. When is football going to start I’m not sure, but everything that has been going on has been very positive and hopefully it will be in time so nobody will be affected.
Tell us about the Jarvis Green Foundation that you started in 2007.
JG: After Hurricane Katrina I had different options. It’s for disadvantaged single working mothers, and the foundation has been going pretty hard in everything that we’ve been doing. We do a lot of wine socials, events, and parties. We raise money by doing events, but most of them are social networking events with live music.
What influenced you to start this foundation?
JG: I did a lot in the New England area; I got the Rob Burton Award in 2006 for the ‘Man of the Year’ in the community, so I’ve always been doing these types of things. I grew up watching my mom and Dad give back their last, and it rubbed off on me. God gives us all these talents, abilities, and opportunities to make this type of money, so why not give back? You see all these players making money, I’m talking 10, 12, 15 million dollars a year, but you don’t see those guys giving back at full potential with the things they could do.
It’s not always about giving money back, its giving your time. A guy like me, CEO of the Jarvis Green Foundation, I’m going around shaking hands and kissing babies, and I’m doing this stuff out of my heart. I always ask people to support the cause by checking out our website. This foundation is very serious about what we do for these mothers. We need help because the foundation is not what I take out of my pocket, its other people in the community that give back to those that are in need.
In addition to your NFL duties and charity endeavors, you also have a construction company, right?
JG: Yes, First Millennium Construction. I bought into it about a year ago. I have a partner named Nathan Hossley, and he’s been there for 17 years. It’s something very serious that I thought about first before I made my decision. I went to school at Louisiana State University for Engineering and I finished in 2002, so this was my plan B since my second year in the league.
I prepared myself through an internship, just learning, and working in an office setting outside of football. The company has been great and we work with a lot of bigger companies, billion dollar companies. I’m a football player, still actively playing football, but I have my plan b setup, so I’m going from my uniform to my suit.
How do you believe that you have changed over the past nine years in the NFL?
JG: I’ve always been a guy seeking wisdom, always a great listener, and I’ve tried to better myself off the field. We all take chances and take risks. I’ve owned a restaurant and a liquor store before, but from an athlete to a business man I’ve grown. I’ve seen a lot of things in my short career, but all those things molded me to who I am today.
Sometimes I can look like a rookie out there with the jewelry, all the rings, and the big watches, but don’t let that fool you. I’m the same guy that can walk into an office with CEOs, COOs, Vice Presidents, and talk to them about business and that’s how I’ve changed in my career during my nine years of football.
Follow Jarvis Green on Twitter @JGBayousFinest and click here to find out more about the Jarvis Green Foundation on JarvisGreen.com!