To Cornelius Green, spending the NFL draft at a private party with Dwayne Haskins Jr. had special meaning.
Green was Ohio State’s first African-American quarterback, and he was a great one on the Archie Griffin teams of the 1970s. But Green — he has dropped the “e” he used at the end of his surname during his OSU days — had to fight stereotypes about black quarterbacks.
Those have faded away, fortunately. Whatever questions Haskins had to face from NFL teams, skin color was not one of them.
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“I’m kind of reliving my life through him,” Green said. “In the ’70s, they had all kind of excuses why I couldn’t play — color first and then size. I’m kind of living my dream through him now.”
Green lives in Washington, not far from the Haskins’ home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He struck up a relationship with the family two years ago when, he said, Haskins considered transferring when J.T. Barrett decided to return for his senior season.
“His mom and dad called me, and we had a long conversation about Ohio State,” Green said. “I told how great Ohio State would be for Dwayne (if he stayed).
“They were a little apprehensive because they thought J.T. would be leaving and then he stayed and kind of threw a wrench in their plans. They thought (Dwayne) would be starting. I said, ‘Wait it out, you’ll get your turn,’ and thank God he did.”
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Green remained close with the family since then, and he was invited to the family’s draft party at the Bowlmor bowling lanes in Gaithersburg.
“My dad was in constant contact with me, sending me spiritual messages and making sure I was here to celebrate,” Green said.
He said about 200-300 people attended, many who happened to be wearing Redskins clothing.
“It was just nerve-wracking to wait until the 15th pick,” Green said. “But once the Redskins selected him, we were so excited. He’s a hometown product and now I can go 20 minutes and see him play.
Green’s NFL career didn’t last long. An option quarterback who seldom threw at Ohio State, Green was drafted in the 11th round by Dallas in 1977.
“Thank God they had 17 rounds then,” he joked.
The Cowboys cut Green at the end of his first training camp. He played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks, then an expansion team.
More than 40 years later, much has changed. Race isn’t the only stereotype that’s fading.
“Look at Kyler Murray,” Green said of the first overall pick Thursday. “He’s like 5-10. Size doesn’t really matter now. It’s really like it’s supposed to be now. It’s a good thing.”