High School Sports

T.J. Green tries to break out of shadow of his father, the former Chiefs quarterback

Rockhurst quarterback T.J. Green.
Rockhurst quarterback T.J. Green. The Kansas City Star

T.J. Green stood near his own end zone on the Rockhurst High School football field, 3 yards behind his offensive line, and fired a pass over the head of an open wide receiver. On the second drive of a Sept. 26 home game against Blue Springs, the chants started almost immediately.

Just like Trent! Just like Trent!

The sound rang from the southeast corner of the stadium, courtesy of the Blue Springs student body, gradually growing loud enough to reach the field. Green scanned to his right for a glimpse of the responsible parties.

“Whatever,” he later recalled thinking.

Green would help guide Rockhurst to a 14-13 victory that night against the two-time defending Missouri Class 6 state champions.

But he completed only four passes. He didn’t throw a touchdown. He didn’t do enough, in other words, to silence the detractors.

He fears he never will — even as he has helped Rockhurst to the Missouri Class 6 state quarterfinals, where the Hawklets will play host to Blue Springs at 7 p.m. Friday. Green has thrown 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions this season.

But does it matter?

“Because of who I am, and because of where I play, a lot of people like to talk,” Green said. “It’s going to happen. You just have to learn to shut it out.”

Easier said than done?


So what’s it like being the son of former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green?

It certainly has its perks. There were the days a young T.J. could enjoy throwing passes and running routes inside the Chiefs’ practice facility. There were the lower level seats at a buzzing Arrowhead Stadium.

And, of course, there was the easy access to advice from a former NFL quarterback.

T.J. says one of his earliest memories is his father teaching him how to grip a football and throw a spiral. He tried all the sports — baseball, tennis, basketball — but he felt a gravitation toward football.

It was Dad’s sport.

“Our backyard was the backyard for all the games — baseball, soccer, basketball, kickball, you name it,” Trent said. “T.J. wasn’t always the most assertive kid out there, but when they played football, he was the quarterback. He kind of insisted on that.”

T.J. talks of the importance of breaking free from his father’s shadow — a process Trent believes is important — but there’s always been a reluctance to do so. T.J. plays the same position that turned Trent into a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He wears No. 10 to emulate Trent’s playing days.

And after a year living in Indiana, T.J. wanted to return to Kansas City to attend Rockhurst. Why? Trent attended Vianney in St. Louis, another private, all-male Catholic school.

T.J. speaks highly of the education Rockhurst offers, but he wanted to feel the same thrill of playing on Friday nights that his dad felt. He wanted to be in the spotlight, too.

And what better place to do it than Rockhurst, a program home to nine football state championships?

“I think that’s what he came back for,” Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said. “He wanted the education here, obviously. But he wanted this atmosphere and the challenge. I don’t think he could’ve had it any other way.”

So what’s it like being the son of former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green?

It certainly has its pressure. There are the whispers T.J. hears while walking through the line to shake hands with an opposing team after the game.

There’s Trent Green’s son.

There were the classmates who teased him about being the backup on the sixth- and seventh-grade football teams. He didn’t even win the freshman team starting job until the third week of the season.

To a certain degree, he still hears ridicule that he hasn’t landed a Division I scholarship offer.

But while he may by flying under the radar of high-level recruiters, he can’t escape the spotlight in Kansas City. Not here. Not where Dad played.

There were times he wanted to. While T.J. has blossomed this season — with a 67.3 completion percentage and a 27-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio — that wasn’t the case last year. He threw only seven touchdowns as a junior and completed only 44.8 percent of his passes.

“He felt like he had to do a lot more than he really needed to. He was looking for the home run and not taking what the defense gave him,” Severino said. “He’s learned how to manage the game. And in the process, he’s turned into our catalyst.”

In the endeavor to make a name for himself, three more victories would go a long way. Leading Rockhurst to its first state championship since 2010 may attract some of that attention from college scouts.

Severino believes the big college offer will still come. T.J. considers himself a late bloomer. His best days are ahead, he insists.

A college career is on the way. Somewhere. He’s sure of that. And who knows? Maybe a professional one, too.

Just like Trent.

To reach Sam McDowell, send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.

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