Green, Tim 1963-

views updated

Green, Tim 1963-


Born March 16, 1963; son of Dick and Judy Green; married, 1989; wife's name Illyssa; children: five. Education: Syracuse University, bachelor's degree, 1986; earned law degree from Syracuse University, early 1990s.




Author, attorney, and retired professional football player. Called to the Bar of New York State. Atlanta Falcons football team, defensive lineman, 1986-93; attorney in private practice, Syracuse, NY, c. 1990—; commentator for National Public Radio (NPR) and the Fox Network. Battle Bots (television series), Comedy Central, commentator, 2001-02; Hard Copy, director, 2005; A Current Affair (television series), host, 2005. Actor in Ruby, 1991, All-American Murder, 1992, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993, and Freak Talks about Sex (DVD; also known as Blowin' Smoke), 1999.


Named All-American defensive end, 1986.



Ruffians, Turner Publishing (Atlanta, GA), 1993.

Titans, Turner Publishing (Atlanta, GA), 1994.

Outlaws, Turner Publishing (Atlanta, GA), 1995.

The Red Zone, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Double Reverse, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1999.

The Letter of the Law, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.

The Fourth Perimeter, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.

The Fifth Angel, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The First 48, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Exact Revenge, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Kingdom Come, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Football Genius, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007, Thorndike Press (Waterville, ME), 2008.

American Outrage, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2007.


The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL (essays), Warner Books (New York, NY), 1996.

A Man and His Mother: An Adopted Son's Search (memoir), ReganBooks (New York, NY), 1997.

The Road to the NFL, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

Columnist for USA Today; contributor to periodicals, including the Syracuse Herald-Journal.


Tim Green is believed to be the first professional football player ever to publish a novel about the sport while he was still playing. His first book, Ruffians, appeared while he was a defensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons and would be the first of numerous crime novels set inside an industry portrayed as lucrative yet full of potentially unhealthy pitfalls. "People don't really know what happens to a football player," Green told Sports Illustrated writer Peter King at the time his career as a writer was just getting started. "There's a lot of stress and anxiety. There's love and hatred and human drama."

Born in 1963 and adopted into a Liverpool, New York, family, Green was a talented youth who earned top grades and a host of athletic honors as a teen. He was a college gridiron star at nearby Syracuse University, where he studied English literature and began writing autobiographical essays. He took a class taught by noted American author Tobias Wolff and met legendary short story writer Raymond Carver during this time. Both encouraged him to write about what he knew. Green was already well known as the school's top athlete and scholar, and he was often asked about the sport by a diverse array of academics, even scientists. "I was struck by the fascination these people had with the world I lived in—the world of football—and I began to realize that this world is actually a visceral and passionate place," he said in a Publishers Weekly interview with Bob Summer.

Green was named an All-American defensive end in 1986 and graduated from Syracuse as covaledictorian of his class. Drafted by the National Football League (NFL), he spent the next eight years with the Atlanta Falcons, took classes at law school in the off-season, and began writing Ruffians as well. In the book, rookie Clay Blackwell is drafted by the worst team in league, the Birmingham Ruffians, and encounters an unscrupulous owner, a sadistic coach, and violent practice sessions during his first weeks on the job. He is also pressured to take performance-enhancing drugs. The team goes on to a winning season, and for a time Blackwell enjoys the heady fame. Then, one of his teammates meets with a drug-related tragedy. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found fault with the overheated characterization of the world of professional sports but conceded that Green "excels in making the interplay between teammates both believable and entertaining." Library Journal critic Terry Madden praised the book's "exciting, crisply drawn football scenes."

Green's second novel, Titans, centers on Hunter Logan, a defensive end for the fictional New York Titans franchise. Logan has a gambling problem, and an organized crime figure begins to blackmail him. A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent is on the trail of the mobster, however, and Logan and the agent team up to nail him. "There's suspense, violence, good football action, and two likable heroes here," wrote Marylaine Block for the Library Journal.

In Outlaws, aging pro athlete Cody Grey finds himself with a disintegrating marriage and a knee injury that has nearly crippled him. His wife begins an affair with a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent, and Grey becomes aware of an illegal arms sale being arranged by the agent. When a series of murders occur, Grey suddenly finds himself a suspect and hires Madison McCall, the ex-wife of a teammate, to defend him. "Green does a solid job in pulling the stories together," noted Tribune Books critic Chris Petrakos, adding that the wife and her paramour are "scary, amoral creations." Washington Post Book World critic Bob Allen, who criticized the dialogue and characterizations, concluded: "My eagerness to find out who gets zapped and who gets the pilfered plutonium ultimately got the better of me."

Green's first work of nonfiction, The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL, is a collection of seventy essays on the sport, many of which first appeared as radio commentaries that Green delivered for National Public Radio (NPR). The chapters delve into his own personal experiences with the Falcons, as well as those of his friends. He suffered a dozen head concussions, for instance, and was pressured to use illegal drugs to boost his game. He also writes about the issues of gambling and organized crime surrounding the sport, and the racism he saw. With their generous salaries and celebrity status, he writes, professional athletes have a hard time resisting pressures to win at any cost. John Maxymuk, writing in the Library Journal, called the book "balanced and even-handed" and predicted that "football fans will devour this."

Green wrote about an even more personal experience in A Man and His Mother: An Adopted Son's Search, in which he recounts his search for his biological mother. People writer Nick Charles quoted him as saying that his overachieving youth "was an attempt to make myself desirable to the woman who gave me away." He writes that a fear of abandonment always hampered his past relationships. After one particular breakup, his ex-girlfriend's mother, confessing that she once gave up a son for adoption, encouraged him to search for his own parents. He hired a private detective and learned that his real father had been a U.S. Army officer and that his biological grandfather had played professional baseball. The records were closed and no names were available, but he learned the name of the town where he was born, and a nurse at the local hospital helped him find his mother.

Green's next novel, The Red Zone, follows the story of Luther Zorn, an NFL player with the Florida Marauders who is prone to violence. He is also having an affair with the wife of the team owner, and when the owner is found murdered, someone plants evidence that connects the crime to Zorn. He hires Madison McCall to defend him and, in a complicated plot twist, must kidnap her to exonerate himself. "Green's strength is his ability to write action scenes that effectively present the intricacies of pro football," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Library Journal reviewer Block called the novel "an exciting story, well told, violent, and true to the game it centers around."

In Double Reverse, Green once again returns to the illicit underside of professional football. The plot revolves around two NFL players, Clark Cromwell, a born-again Christian, and Trane Jones, his utter antithesis. When Jones wakes up one morning next to a dead Hollywood starlet, he is accused of her murder and finds that his celebrity skyrockets along with his bad-boy image. Jones is eventually cleared, but soon his roommate, Cromwell, comes under suspicion. McCall reappears to defend Cromwell. "Green," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "knows the territory and he leads us briskly right through the bloody, satisfying climax." Entertainment Weekly critic Bilge Ebiri called it "a surprisingly absorbing read."

The Letter of the Law is an intriguing thriller that takes a look at the rules that govern the ways in which a lawyer must act regarding a client, and how attorney/client privilege can sometimes result in a miscarriage of justice. When law professor Eric Lipton is accused of murdering law student Marcia Sayles, he chooses an attorney, only to decide that he has made an error, and instead requests that his former student Casey Jordan take the case. Casey has risen in prominence as a lawyer since graduating and is happy to have the chance to defend her old professor. She is determined to prove him not guilty, despite the damning evidence, as she believes strongly in his innocence. Casey does a wonderful job convincing the jury, and they acquit Lipton of the murder. However, Lipton himself, just prior to hearing the verdict, whispers to Casey that he actu- ally murdered Sayles. Casey is in shock, unsure if her client was playing a sick joke or if in truth she has aided a murderer in walking free. When victim Marcia Sayles's father turns up dead, and a brief investigation proves that there was a similar murder even prior to Marcia, Casey realizes that they have a serial killer on their hands, and only she can decide where to draw the line between her role as defense attorney and what she owes the community. Kristine Huntley, writing for Booklist, observed that "Green keeps the pages turning, but the revelation of the killer early on takes some of the suspense from the narrative."

Green leaves the world of football and enters the genre of legal thriller with The Fourth Perimeter, in which former Secret Service agent Kurt Ford flies to Washington, DC, after being told that his son, Collin, has committed suicide. In truth, Collin had become drunk while with a beautiful woman and was then murdered. Kurt is contacted by a former rival, David Claiborne, who informs him that two other agents have died under equally strange circumstances, possibly because they, like Collin, had accompanied the U.S. president to a meeting in a Maryland farmhouse and may have been privy to secrets that have now gone with them to their graves.

Revenge is the theme of The Fifth Angel, in which a father, lawyer Jack Ruskin, takes the law into his own hands after his fifteen-year-old daughter is raped and mentally scarred by a repeat sex offender who is given a minimal sentence. Jack goes online to find other offenders and then commits "perfect crimes" as he travels around the country on business. Library Journal reviewer Jetta Carol Culpepper wrote that Green's "intense, fast-paced plot will keep readers riveted."

In The First 48, the title refers to the fact that when a person is kidnapped and foul play is suspected, then that person will likely be killed if not rescued within forty-eight hours. Lawyer Tom Redmond is well aware of this fact when his daughter Jane, a reporter for the Washington Post, goes missing. Jane has been investigating reports of sexual misconduct that were linked to a Senator Gleeson, who coincidentally was also the man responsible for the end of her father's career as district attorney years earlier. Redmond is sure that Gleeson is behind Jane's disappearance and so, taking along a former biker named Mike Tubbs to act as muscle, he takes off to rescue his daughter. Jane attempts her own daring escape, and the plot of the story goes off on an abrupt tangent at that point, including a Ukrainian terrorist and a host of ridiculous events. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found this a weak offering from Green, remarking that over the course of the book, "improbabilities vie for attention with contrivances, and the novel is riddled with careless writing." Mary Frances Wilkens, in a review for Booklist, opined that "though not lacking in intrigue, the story is predictable, and the characters, likable enough, are thinly drawn."

Green's Exact Revenge is a contemporary retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Raymond White is a handsome half-Native American attorney who graduated from Princeton University and is about to run for Congress at the age of twenty-five. When he is framed for a murder by colleagues, Raymond leaves his life behind to serve prison time. While there, he meets lifer Lester Cole, who emphasizes the importance of revenge and who offers to share a hidden fortune if Raymond will break out with him. After eighteen years behind bars, Raymond escapes, but Lester is killed in the attempt. Now Raymond has the means to plot his revenge and undergo the facial surgery that will make him invisible to his prey. Mary Frances Wilkens wrote in Booklist that Green "knows how to get a narrative steamroller moving and keep it going." A Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded that Green "craftily attenuates the suspense and works some nice wrinkles into a familiar formula."

In 2005, Green signed on to become the host of a revival of Current Affairs, a tabloid-style news show that aired from 1986 to 1996, and which was then hosted by Maury Povich. The show, which was syndicated to Fox-owned stations, was cancelled after less than one year. As of 2006, Green continued to write and served as a commentator for Fox Sports' NFL game coverage, as a columnist for USA Today, and as a weekly commentator for NPR. In the same year, he published Kingdom Come. The novel is similar to elements within the plot of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Thane Coder, upset that his boss passed him up for promotion over his own son, James, kills his boss and frames James. With mafia involvement, he is able to secure his financial future and is constantly encouraged to go further by his wife, Jessica. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews noted "some fairly supple action scenes" but felt overall that "the book possesses a been-there escaped-that quality." Joe Hartlaub, writing on the Web site, commented that "Green's pacing is exquisite," adding that "nothing he has done before has foreshadowed the addictive readability of this work."

Football Genius is Green's first book for younger readers. The novel tells the story of twelve-year-old Troy White, abandoned by his father, who is frustrated playing second string on his football team, where he feels his abilities are being wasted. Not only is he a good athlete, but Troy is a genius at predicting football strategy. In an effort to get noticed, he swipes a football from Seth Halloway, the Atlanta Falcon's star linebacker, hoping that this will get him an audience with the NFL team. If his own team isn't interested in making the most of Troy's skills, maybe the pros will be. Ultimately, Seth becomes a mentor and father figure for Troy, stressing the importance of honesty regarding his theft of the football, and forgiveness, pertaining to his father's departure. Seth starts to date Troy's mother, and also to help coach Troy's team, and Troy himself gets an opportunity to show what he can do both on and off the field. Kim Dare, in a review for School Library Journal, remarked that "the fast action and plot twists will keep fans of the game glued to the story."

Published the following year, American Outrage tells of former NPR foreign correspondent Jake Carlson, who is unhappy with the state of his life. He is a correspondent for a television tabloid show and is still getting over the death of his wife. His adopted son gives Jake a new challenge when he asks for the chance to meet with his biological mother. Jake, up for the task at hand, soon realizes that after being drugged and shot at, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. His personal life turns into tabloid fodder as his coworkers try to beat him to his own scoop. A contributor to Publishers Weekly concluded that "Green's tale is ripe with irony and full of barbs." A Kirkus Reviews critic acknowledged "mild thrills" throughout the novel. Mary Frances Wilkins, writing in Booklist, wrote that "Green hits his stride" with American Outrage.



Green, Tim, The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Green, Tim, A Man and His Mother: An Adopted Son's Search, ReganBooks (New York, NY), 1997.


Aethlon, fall, 1998, Robert Sirabian, review of The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL, p. 213.

Booklist, March 1, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of Outlaws, p. 1124; April 15, 1997, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Red Zone, p. 1405; November 15, 1997, Gilbert Taylor, review of A Man and His Mother, p. 527; July, 2000, Kristine Huntley, review of The Letter of the Law, p. 1973; February 1, 2001, Ted Hipple, review of The Letter of the Law, p. 1064; December 15, 2003, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The First 48, p. 707; March 15, 2005, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Exact Revenge, p. 1246; March 1, 2007, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of American Outrage, p. 67.

Entertainment Weekly, November 4, 1994, Kate Neyers, "Making All the Write Moves," p. 68; August 20, 1999, Bilge Ebiri, review of Double Reverse, p. 120.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1993, review of Ruffians, p. 876; July 15, 1994, review of Titans, p. 935; June 15, 1996, review of The Dark Side of the Game, p. 875; March 1, 1997, review of The Red Zone, p. 324; October 1, 1997, review of A Man and His Mother, p. 1504; July 1, 1999, review of Double Reverse, p. 1999; December 15, 2003, review of The First 48, p. 1414; March 15, 2005, review of Exact Revenge, p. 305; February 15, 2006, review of Kingdom Come, p. 148; January 15, 2007, review of American Outrage, p. 40.

Library Journal, September 15, 1993, Terry Madden, review of Ruffians, p. 104; October 15, 1994, Marylaine Block, review of Titans, p. 87; June 15, 1996, John Maxymuk, review of The Dark Side of the Game, p. 72; April 1, 1997, Edwin B. Burgess, review of The Red Zone, p. 125; July, 1998, Marylaine Block, review of The Red Zone, p. 136; February 1, 2002, Michelle Foyt, review of The Fourth Perimeter, p. 130; February 15, 2003, Jetta Carol Culpepper, review of The Fifth Angel, p. 168.

New York Times, September 25, 1985, William N. Wallace, "Goals beyond the Goal Lines."

People, January 12, 1998, Nick Charles, review of A Man and His Mother, p. 93.

Publishers Weekly, July 19, 1993, review of Ruffians, p. 236; August 8, 1994, review of Outlaws, p. 390; August 7, 1995, review of Outlaws, p. 443; January 1, 1996, Bob Summer, "Tim Green's Breakout?," p. 35; June 3, 1996, review of The Dark Side of the Game, p. 67; October 7, 1996, review of The Dark Side of the Game, p. 34; March 3, 1997, review of The Red Zone, p. 63; June 22, 1998, review of The Red Zone, p. 84; July 5, 1999, review of Double Reverse, p. 58; January 28, 2002, review of The Fourth Perimeter, p. 271; January 6, 2003, review of The Fifth Angel, p. 37; January 26, 2004, review of The First 48, p. 231; April 11, 2005, review of Exact Revenge, p. 33; February 5, 2007, review of American Outrage, p. 38.

School Library Journal, July, 2007, Kim Dare, review of Football Genius, p. 103.

Sport, January, 1995, Constance Loizos, review of Titans, p. 12.

Sports Illustrated, November 30, 1992, Peter King, "Renaissance Man," p. 68; July 3, 2006, "Q & A Tim Green," p. 31.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 17, 1996, Chris Petrakos, review of Outlaws, section 14, p. 6.

Washington Post Book World, August 4, 1996, Bob Allen, review of Outlaws, p. 8.

ONLINE, (July 11, 2007), author interview; Joe Hartlaub, review of Kingdom Come.

Mostly Fiction, (June 4, 2006), Eleanor Bukowsky, review of Kingdom Come.

Slate, (May 11, 2005), Bryan Curtis, "Tim Green: The Calm, Reassuring Voice of A Current Affair."

Tim Green Home Page, (July 11, 2007).

About this article

Green, Tim 1963-

Updated About content Print Article