Know your Guard

Kevin Greene

Former National Guard 1LT/Former NFL Linebacker/Former NFL Asst. Coach

NFL Position:
Outside Linebacker

Kevin Greene is revered as one of the scariest defensive players in NFL history. The 15-year NFL veteran put together an incredible career and tallied more sacks than any linebacker in NFL history with 160. Greene ranks 3rd on the All-Time sack list behind Reggie White and Bruce Smith, but the 5-Time Pro Bowler says he probably wouldn't have achieved that success if it wasn't for his time serving in the National Guard. Click the video to see Kevin Greene's story.

CPT Brandon Godsey

19 A, Armor Officer
Years in Guard:
Miami, OH (Redhawks)
NFL Exp:
Undrafted to 49ers 2003 NFL Europe
Cornerback/ Safety
Q What lessons in high school and on the playing field:

You don’t get anything without hard work. I never learned how to work hard going into my SR. year. If I were to do anything differently it would have been to work harder earlier. Be versatile. I was willing to play everything from corner and safety to kick returner, safety, running back, wide receiver and even quarterback sometimes.

Q Biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

Learning that life isn’t always fair and it’s not always merit-based. Even if you think you put in the work to deserve something, sometimes that’s not the way it always works out.

Q When I first went to Miami (OH) I was a walk-on. I wasn’t a big guy, about 5’9, 165lbs. So I out-worked everyone to get playing time and show that I could help the team.

After college I was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free-agent. I played lights-out football, but when it came time for cuts I was one of the guys that got cut, even though they said I played great and I did everything that was asked of me.

Q Advice to young athletes:
  • 1: Find a mentor who can teach you and help you reach your goals.
  • 2: Whatever you want to achieve, make sure you’re passionate about it and make it your burning desire in life.
  • 3: Always be prepared with a Plan B.
Q What set you apart from the competition in football?

Work ethic and discipline I learned from my coaches and in the weight room. I was the first guy in the weight room and the last one out.

Q Why did you decide to join the National Guard?

Family more than anything was the biggest reason. I wanted to serve my country and in the National Guard it’s unique because you’re in the local community and at home so you get that time with your family which is really important to me.

My head coach at Miami also had an impact in a way. The late Terry Hoeppnner was always giving us pre-game speeches about his time in the military and in Vietnam so I started thinking about the military when I was in college.

Q What are you doing today in the National Guard?

Full-time working on a homeland security deployment

Q How did you transition from the NFL to the National Guard

The biggest challenge for me was realizing that my football career was over. But aside from that, there’s a lot of similarities between football and the National Guard.

Cameraderie, hard work and discipline are all important in both athletics and the National Guard.

Q What can high schoolers learn from the National Guard?

A lot of kids today have a short term mentality. The Guard will teach you how to be patient and how to achieve your goals strategically.

Mental toughness and character development is also another benefit of what the National Guard does in shaping young men and women.

Q Why should high school players look into the National Guard?

There’s so many benefits that the National Guard offers. Where else can you get 100% percent of your college education paid for, stay close to home, and learn job and career skills?

Q Where did you learn how to become a leader?

We’re looking for “Scholar-Leaders.” You have to be smart. It’s harder to enter the military these days than it is to get into college. You also have to be in decent to very good physical shape.

Q What kind of person is the National Guard looking for?

I first learned about leadership in football. Leaders step up and make plays, they carry themselves with dignity and set good examples. You have to do that in the National Guard too.

Leadership is also another major quality the Guard looks for. We have a saying in the Guard now: “Everyone is a leader.” You have to bring something to the table.

Q Talk about your experience in Iraq:

I was in Iraq from April 2008 to April 2009. It was a great experience. I was a platoon leader in charge of 26 guys.

When you’re out there in the middle of the desert and something goes wrong and everyone is looking at you, that’s when all that mental toughness and decision making skills and mental toughness I learned in football and in the Guard come in to play.

Q How is reacting to a military situation like reacting in football?

In football, especially as a defensive back, you have to anticipate things. It’s very similar in the military. You survey a situation, see it coming up and start your game plan. At that point things kind of come second nature because you’ve prepared for it over and over for moments like that.

Q How do you feel about earing the Bronze Star Award in Iraq?

Mine was earned for leadership and responsibility. It means a lot to me now that I look back on it all. At first I just thought I was doing my job, but I was very proud to do what I did and help my country.

Q Best advice someone has ever given you?

Coach Hoepnner used to read this poem called “Don’t Quit” to us.

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.”

(1st Verse)

It’s a simple idea, but it just reminds you to never quit. I text a lot of my friends from football and we’ll start one line and another person will finish the next so it’s pretty cool.

Hspd alumni

  • Cameron Newton

    HSPD Site Name: Atlanta

    Current Team: Carolina Panthers

    Position: QB

    College: Auburn

  • Vernon Davis

    HSPD Site Name: Dunbar

    Current Team: SF 49ers

    Position: TE

    College: Univ. of Maryland

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