We’re always happy to pay tribute to the giants of the past whose shoulders we proudly stand on. With a tradition of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the brightest and best from our industry, we are happy to present the past winners below. If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch.
Hugh Donell Green, born on July 27, 1959, had a remarkable career in both college and professional football as a linebacker. He played college football for the University of Pittsburgh and became a three-time consensus All-American. In 1981, Green was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he began his professional career. He later played for the Miami Dolphins, totaling eleven seasons in the NFL.
During his college career at the University of Pittsburgh from 1977 to 1980, Green excelled as a defensive end for the Panthers. He played alongside several future NFL Hall of Fame players, including Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm, Jimbo Covert, and Dan Marino. Green's outstanding performances earned him three-time consensus first-team All-American honors and multiple All-East selections. He contributed significantly to the team's success, leading them to three bowl victories and compiling an impressive 39-8-1 record. Green's exceptional achievements were recognized with numerous awards, including the Lombardi, Maxwell, and Walter Camp awards. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, the highest rank ever achieved by a defensive specialist at that time.
In 1981, Green embarked on his professional career after being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the seventh overall pick in the NFL Draft. He quickly established himself as one of the league's top linebackers, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections in 1982 and 1983. Despite enduring injuries, including a fracture near the eye from a car accident, Green continued to be a dominant force on the field. In the middle of the 1985 season, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Green spent six more solid seasons with the Dolphins before retiring.
Throughout his football journey, Green left an indelible mark on the game. Known for his exceptional speed, quickness, strength, and overall skill set, he was regarded as one of the most devastating defensive ends in collegiate football history. His impact on the field was evident, and his coaches and teammates recognized his remarkable abilities. Pittsburgh head coach Jackie Sherrill described Green as the most productive player at his position he had ever seen in college. Green's impressive college career and subsequent achievements led to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
After his football career, Green has returned to his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, where he now operates a farm. His jersey number, 99, was retired by the University of Pittsburgh to honor his outstanding contributions to the team.