The self-proclaimed "itty bitty guy," Green was nicknamed the "Ageless Wonder" by his peers and the general media for his remarkable ability to maintain a high level of play well into the twilight of his career. Green was also known for his speed and was one of the fastest players in the history of the NFL.
Green was born in Houston, Texas and attended Jesse H. Jones High School. While there, he was an All-State selection in track and an All-City pick in football. Green made the junior varsity football team his junior year, and then made the varsity team as a senior.
Green attended and played college football and ran track at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville). He finished his Bachelor of Science degree in general studies at St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia.
In 1982, Green was selected by his teammates as captain, was named a first team All-American, and was the Most Valuable Player in the Lone Star Conference. During his senior year, Green had 56 tackles, four interceptions and two punt returns for touchdowns. He was selected to the Lone Star Conference Team of the Decade for the 1980s.
In track and field, Green set numerous national and conference records and earned ten All-America certificates. His first meet was in 1982 in San Angelo, Texas, where he ran a 10.08 in the 100 meters. The mark still stands as the all-time best in the Lone Star Conference. At the 1982 NCAA championships Green finished 6th in the 100 meter dash and 7th in the 200 meter dash.
Green's all-time collegiate best in the 100 was 10.08, 20.50 in the 200 meters and 45.90 in the 400 meters. He was named the most valuable track performer at the 1982 and 1983 Lone Star Conference Championships. He won gold medals at the LSC meet in the 100 meters in 1981 and in the 100 meters and 200 meters in 1982 and in 1983.
Green was named to the NCAA Division I All-America roster in 1981 and 1982, and was on the NCAA Division II All-America team in five events in 1981 and 1982. He was NAIA All-America in 1981 and 1982 in four events.
Green was the last player selected in the first round (28th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The first time he touched the ball, during a pre-season game against the Atlanta Falcons, he returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown. During his first regular-season game, he made his first big play when he ran down running back Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys to prevent a touchdown. Green started all 16 regular season games during his rookie season and finished fourth on the team in tackles with 109 and led the team in solo tackles with 79. He was runner-up for the Associated Press NFL Rookie of the Year Award.
During the strike-shortened 1987 season, the Redskins went 11–4 and Green had a very successful year. He registered a career-high three interceptions in a game against the Detroit Lions on November 15, 1987. Two of his more notable performances occurred in that post season. One happened during a divisional playoff game against the Chicago Bears, where he returned a punt 52 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Green tore rib cartilage while vaulting over a tackler during the return, but he merely grabbed his side and kept running until he scored. Then in the 1987 NFC Championship game, on a pivotal fourth-down play at the Washington goal line with 56 seconds remaining, Green knocked away a pass intended for Minnesota's Darrin Nelson to secure a Redskins 17–10 victory that enabled the team to go to Super Bowl XXII.
Green was also successful in the 1990s. In 1997, Green returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles, which was the longest return of his career. Then on December 13, 1997, he played in his 217th career game as a Redskin, breaking Monte Coleman's record for games played. In a 1999 game against the Arizona Cardinals, he intercepted his 50th NFL pass against Jake Plummer at FedExField.
In his last game on December 29, 2002, Green and the Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 20–14 at FedExField. During the game, he returned a punt on a reverse from Champ Bailey for 35 yards which is the longest gain of any kind for a player his age (42 years, 327 days).
Green retired after the 2002 season at the age of 42, the oldest Redskin, having played for six head coaches: Joe Gibbs, Richie Petitbon, Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier. For several years, Green and former Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Jackie Slater were the only players in NFL history to play for the same team for 20 seasons; kicker Jason Hanson broke this record when he retired after 21 seasons with the Detroit Lions.
In his 20 NFL seasons, Green recorded 54 interceptions, which he returned for 621 yards and six touchdowns. He also added two additional touchdowns on interception returns in the post season. Three times he recorded a career-best of five interceptions in a season (1984, 1986, and 1991). Green also returned 51 punts for 611 yards and recovered 10 fumbles, returning them for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Also known for staying healthy, he missed just 25 games throughout his career. He missed two months after sustaining a broke arm in a 24–17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on September 15, 1992.
He is the four-time winner of the NFL's Fastest Man competition, and the only undefeated multiple winner in NFL history.
Green was with the Redskins for their victories in Super Bowls XXII and XXVI, and started in their loss to the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII. Green recorded an interception in Super Bowl XXVI and a then-record 34-yard punt return in Super Bowl XVIII.
Green was named All-Pro in 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991 and was voted to seven Pro Bowls. He is a member of the National Football League 1990s All-Decade Team as well as winning all four NFL Fastest Man competitions he participated in. His pre-game rituals included eating and sticking Tootsie Rolls in his sock claiming that the candy helped him run fast.Most consecutive seasons with an interception (19)
Most seasons with at least one touch(receptions, rushes, returns) (20); tied with Jerry Rice
Oldest player with a 35+ yard gain(lateral on punt return), (42 years, 327 days)
Oldest player with an interception return for a touchdown in overtime, (35 years, 249 days)
Oldest player with an interception (41 years, 304 days)
Oldest player with an 80+ yard interception return (37 years, 309 days)
Oldest player with a non-offensive touchdown in overtime, (35 years, 249 days)
Oldest NFL Defensive Back (42 years old)
2nd Oldest player to return an interception for a touchdown (37 years, 309 days)(Albert Lewis is the oldest: 38 years, 26 days)
Most games played by a defensive player (295)
4 time NFL's Fastest Man Competition winner, only player to win multiple times and never lose
1996 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner
Most career interceptions (54)
Most game starts (258) and games played (295)
Most game starts by a defensive back (258) and games played (295)
Most consecutive seasons (20).
Longest fumble return for a touchdown (78 yards).
Most interceptions returned for touchdown (6).
Green was in the news on February 16, 2010, his 50th birthday, for reportedly running a 4.43 second 40-yard dash.
On April 26, 2013, Green announced that he had accepted a position as Special Assistant for Student–Athlete Development and Public Relations at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
On August 22, 2016, Green announced that he had accepted a position as an associate athletics director and special assistant to the athletic director at George Mason University.
In 1988, Green founded the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, a faith-based charitable organization, in an effort to "meet the needs of children, their families and the communities in which they live."
In addition, he served as a board member for the Baltimore-Washington 2012 Summer Olympics Bid, NFL/NFLPA September 11 Relief Fund, and the Loudoun Education Foundation. In 2003, he was selected to serve as the Chair of President Bush's Council on Service and Civic Participation. He currently sits on the boards of the Wolf Trap Foundation as its National Spokesman for Education and Marymount University.
In 1999, while still active, Green was ranked number 81 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
Green has received honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Marymount University in 1999, and St. Paul's College and George Washington University in 2002.
In 2004, Green was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 2, 2008. His fellow Hall of Fame classmates include former Redskins teammate Art Monk, and his former position coach Emmitt Thomas. Green has also been inducted into the NCAA Division II Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Lone Star Conference Hall of Honor and the Javelina Hall of Fame.
In December 2007, Green was voted the All-Time Redskins Legend in a WUSA-TV Channel 9 online poll.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, where Green lives, State Route 28 is named Darrell Green Boulevard.
Green, a devout Christian, is married and has three children. His eldest son Jared is a pastor.
In 2013, he and Art Monk agreed that the Redskins should seriously consider changing their name due to the possibility of it being racist toward Native Americans.
Green has a professional services company that manages his appearances and autograph requests, www.DarrellGreen.com. He has also recently started an online fitness company promoting increased physical activity through simply walking called WalkFitHealth Nation.