SYRACUSE — Tim Green stood at midfield with the help of family members Saturday night, soaking in the multiple standing ovations he received from a sold-out Carrier Dome crowd of 50,248 fans while taking his rightful place among Syracuse University football legends.
The Orange retired the No. 72 jersey of Green, the program’s all-time sacks leader, during a ceremony at halftime of its nationally-televised home opener against top-ranked defending national champion Clemson.
Green, who was diagnosed with ALS last November, took the field on a golf cart and stood up with the help of his family for the duration of the ceremony. He appeared to get emotional as a blue banner was lowered to unveil his No. 72 jersey hanging in the rafters, which followed a video tribute.
Green’s son, Troy, read a prepared statement to the adoring crowd on his father’s behalf that thanked SU officials and mentioned several former coaches and teammates while describing Green’s lifelong dream of playing for the Orange.
“Tonight, this honor of a lifetime which fulfills the wildest of my childhood dreams is only the second greatest thing SU has given to me, the first is my beautiful wife Alyssa,” Troy Green stated on his dad’s behalf.
“While this moment is mine, only a fraction of the honor is mine,” he added. “I wouldn’t be here with my coaches or teammates, starting with Coach Mac (Dick MacPherson). However one man has been more than a coach to me. Coach George O’Leary took me under his wing when I was 13. He taught me what perseverance is.”
SU sold an official “orange-out” T-shirt for Saturday’s game with Green’s No. 72 on the back, and a portion of the proceeds were set to be donated to Green’s “Tackle ALS,” charity. Green has helped raise more than $3 million toward ALS research in partnership with the Massachusetts General Hospital in the past year.
“I’d also like to thank you, the Orange faithful, who for decades have treasured the ups and forgiven most of the downs,” Troy Green read from Tim’s speech. “I will forever be one of you.”
Green became the sixth individual player to be honored with a jersey retirement, and the first primarily defensive player in program history. He joined Larry Csonka (No. 39), John Mackey (88), Donovan McNabb (5), Don McPherson (9), and Joe Morris (47) in the heralded group. SU has also retired the No. 44, which was worn by 25 different players, including legendary running backs Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little.
Green, a member of the Orange’s all-century team, finished his SU career with 45.5 sacks and 341 tackles from 1982-85. He moved onto a standout NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, starting 71 of 99 career games between 1986-93 and recording 24 career sacks to go with nine recovered fumbles.