Lost amidst all the pomp and circumstance of No. 1 Clemson coming to the Dome for Saturday’s season opener and the panic brought on by a very poor showing against Maryland last weekend are two very special ceremonies set to go down during the game on Saturday.
The 1959 National Championship Team is set to be honored for its 60th anniversary throughout much of the game, but the main event is scheduled for halftime. Syracuse legend Tim Green, one of the most popular and beloved players in program history, will become the first defensive player in program history to have No. 72 retired.
The program’s all-time leader in career sacks with 45.5, Green, a Liverpool native, played under Dick MacPherson from 1982-85 and went on to be the Falcons’ 17th overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft where he’d enjoy an eight-year playing career. During his time at SU, he was also a three-time All-American, a Rhodes Scholar candidate and even came back to get his law degree in 1994. Green would go on to become a best-selling young adult novelist as well as a broadcaster for the NFL on Fox.
He is now taking on the most difficult battle of his life (this is a must-watch), announcing in late 2018 that he has been living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS since 2016 and is now working to help find a cure with his charity, Tackle ALS.
He is a legendary figure in so many ways and is more than deserving of the distinction and honor he will receive on Saturday night. He is a hero both on and off the field and will always be considered as one of the greatest players to ever strap on a set of pads for Syracuse and these three moments are big reasons why.
Dominance vs No. 1 Nebraska – 1984
The magnitude and the setup of this Clemson game this weekend has been compared to what happened when a lowly Orange team stunned top-ranked Nebraska 17-9 inside the Dome in 1984. Coming off of a brutal loss, 19-0, to an opponent that, going into the game, many believed they should have beaten, Rutgers, and staring into the face of the consensus top team in the country. Sounds familiar, right? Well, the shocking upset of the Cornhuskers wouldn’t have been possible without Green’s contributions. The then-junior tallied a team-high 12 tackles and forced a key fumble on a strip sack in the second quarter with the Huskers up 7-0 and deep in Syracuse territory. The Orange recovered and marched 83 yards and clock-wasting 8 minutes and 14 seconds before kicking a field goal that put them on the board. Nebraska did not score again. That play swung the pendulum of momentum to side of the Orange. Imagine if the No. 1 team in the country had gone up by two scores? That Huskers team was averaging over 40 points a game, but thanks to Tim Green they never got the chance. He’d have a school record 15 sacks and over 100 tackles in that 1984 season.
Syracuse Returns to a Bowl Game – 1985
Green was a four-year standout at Liverpool High School and could have picked just about any school in the country that he wanted to play football at, but he decided to follow his former high school coach, George O’Leary, to Syracuse where he had recently become an assistant under Coach Mac. He wanted to help resurrect his local team and bring them back to even a small amount of national relevance. He finally helped accomplish that feat in his senior season. Green’s 88 tackles (one of the top four most prolific tackling season in Syracuse down lineman history – he’s got three of the top four spots) and 13.5 sacks (he’s got three of the top four spots for that category as well) led the Orange to a 7-5 record and a berth in the Cherry Bowl against Maryland, SU’s first bowl since 1979 and just the program’s second in the last 19 years. The team records were never perfect in Green’s time at SU, but just two years after he had gone to the NFL, the Orange went 11-0-1 and finished the season ranked 4th in the AP Poll. If bringing Syracuse back to the forefront of college football was what he wanted, then he accomplished his goal.
Tackles Two Men at Once vs Boston College – 1985
Everybody remembers The Hit that Jadeveon Clowney delivered against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl. It’s one of the most famous tackles in college football history and for good reason. But, you know what didn’t happen in that play? Clowney didn’t bring down two players at once. Tim Green did. It was November 16, 1985, Green’s second-to-last game ever played inside the Dome. The Orange were taking on Boston College and Green lined up directly over the center. The BC quarterback took the snap and spun to give it to his fullback right behind him. The handoff never happened. Green shot right past the center and got into the backfield in the blink of an eye. He then proceeded to wrap up both the QB (who still had the ball in his hands) and the fullback who had never even touched the football. He tackled two men at once in a bearhug of sorts and completely blew up the play. It’s not as hard-hitting as The Hit, but it’s just as, if not more impressive. Just watch for yourself. Green played at full tilt at all times and that play exemplifies his playing style: fast, physical, dominant. He is an absolute legend.