The Cleveland Browns have had many outstanding running backs who have led the team in rushing yards in a season.
From Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, and Marion Motley to such other excellent players as Kevin Mack, Earnest Byner, Greg Pruitt, Mike Pruitt, and Nick Chubb, Cleveland has a long history of talented running backs who have led the Browns in rushing yards in a season.
Running back Boyce Green led the Browns in rushing yards in 1984.
— Stephen Thomas (@15Stephen15) May 29, 2014
As part of a five-year NFL career, Green helped Cleveland both as a running back and on “special teams” from 1983 to 1985.
We take a look at the life of Boyce Green – before, during, and after his NFL playing career.
The Early Years Before College
Boyce Keith Green was born on June 24, 1960 in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, near the southern tip of South Carolina.
While Green was growing up there, Beaufort had a population of approximately 6,000 to 9,000 people.
Green attended Beaufort High School.
After high school, Green headed to Jefferson City, Tennessee (in northeastern Tennessee) to attend Carson-Newman College.
The College Years
Green played football at Carson-Newman from 1979 to 1982.
Carson-Newnan played in the South Atlantic Conference, then known as the “SAC-8” (then also consisting of Catawba College, Elon College, Gardner-Webb College, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Mars Hill College, Newberry College, and Presbyterian College) when Green played there.
The SAC-8 was part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (“NAIA”) when Green played there.
As a freshman in 1979, Green became a starter at running back.
In 1979, Green rushed for 442 yards on 70 rushing attempts, caught one pass for 13 yards, and returned two kickoffs for 35 yards.
He also scored 32 points in 1979 (five touchdowns and two points-after-touchdown).
Carson-Newman had a 6-4 record in 1979.
The Carson-Newman College 1980 Football Media Guide stated about Green:
“A consistent runner. Made several key runs last season. Makes the big play.”
Green, in 1980, rushed for 708 yards and four touchdowns on 128 rushing attempts (unfortunately, only partial information was available on Green’s statistics in 1980).
He was named first-team all-conference running back in 1980.
In 1980, Carson-Newman posted a 5-5 record (including two losses by forfeit).
Green rushed for 530 yards and six touchdowns on 92 rushing attempts and caught four passes for 39 yards in 1981.
In a 48-15 Carson-Newman victory over Catawba on October 3, 1981, Green scored three touchdowns, on runs of two yards, 22 yards, and four yards.
On October 31, 1981, Green rushed for 159 yards on only 10 rushing attempts, including two touchdown runs of 71 yards and 56 yards, as Carson-Newman defeated Franklin 35-29.
Carson-Newman had a 7-4 record in 1981.
In 1982, as a senior, Green rushed for 673 yards and eight touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts and caught five passes for 67 yards.
He was named second-team all-conference running back and to the NAIA All-District team in 1982.
On September 11, 1982, Green rushed for 151 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown and an 80-yard touchdown, on only seven rushing attempts, in a 31-10 Carson-Newman win over Liberty Baptist.
Green scored two touchdowns, on runs of one yard and 14 yards, as Carson-Newman defeated Presbyterian 45-14 on November 13, 1982.
With the defeat of Presbyterian, Carson-Newman clinched its first ever SAC-8 title in 1982.
Carson-Newman had a 10-1 regular season record in 1982.
Carson-Newman then advanced to the 1982 NAIA National Football Playoffs, but it lost in the quarterfinals to Hillsdale College 20-12 on December 4, 1982.
In the final NAIA poll in 1982, Carson-Newnan was ranked third.
Green ranked third in Carson-Newman career rushing yards (2,353) at the time that he finished his college football career after the 1982 season.
At Carson-Newman, Green also was on the track team.
In 1984, Green earned his Bachelor’s degree in Education from Carson-Newman.
After playing college football at Carson-Newman, Green continued his football career in the NFL.
The Pro Football Years
Green was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 11th round of the 1983 NFL draft.
He was the 288th overall pick.
Playing at a height of five feet and 11 inches and a weight of 215 pounds, Green (joining wide receiver Rocky Belk, defensive end Reggie Camp, linebacker Dale Carver, tackle Bill Contz, tackle Paul Farren, defensive back Al Gross, tight end Harry Holt, tackle Thomas Hopkins, nose tackle Dave Puzzuoli, and tight end Tim Stracka) was one of 11 rookies to make the Browns roster in 1983.
Green, in 1983, played in 13, and started two, regular season games for Cleveland.
In a 30-24 Browns victory in overtime over the San Diego Chargers on September 25, 1983, Green played in his first NFL regular season game.
He returned one kickoff for 30 yards.
The following week, on October 2, 1983, in a 24-9 Cleveland loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Green scored his first touchdown in an NFL regular season game, catching a five-yard touchdown pass from Browns quarterback Brian Sipe (also his first pass reception in an NFL regular season game).
Green also returned three kickoffs for 57 yards.
In the next game, on October 9, 1983, Green had his first rushing attempt in an NFL regular season game, in a 10-7 Cleveland win over the New York Jets.
Green rushed for 48 yards on 16 rushing attempts and caught three passes for eight yards.
The following week, on October 16, 1983, in a 44-17 Browns loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green had his first NFL regular season start.
He played very well, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns (on runs of 23 yards and one yard) on 28 rushing attempts and catching five passes for 35 yards.
In the next game, on October 23, 1983, Green rushed for 31 yards on six rushing attempts and caught three passes for five yards, in a 28-21 Cleveland loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The following week, on October 30, 1983, Green rushed for 107 yards – including the winning touchdown on a 20-yard run in overtime – on 14 rushing attempts, as the Browns defeated the Houston Oilers 25-19.
Green also caught four passes for 40 yards and returned four kickoffs for 92 yards.
In the next game, on November 6, 1983, in a 35-21 Cleveland loss to the Green Bay Packers, Green rushed for 14 yards on four rushing attempts, caught one pass for 10 yards, and returned four kickoffs for 61 yards.
On November 20, 1983, Green rushed for 37 yards on 10 rushing attempts and caught two passes for four yards, in a 30-0 Browns shutout of the New England Patriots.
In a 34-27 Cleveland loss to the Houston Oilers on December 11, 1983, Green rushed for seven yards on two rushing attempts, caught two passes for 10 yards, and returned two kickoffs for 55 yards.
The following week, on December 18, 1983, Green had his second NFL regular season start, as the Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17.
Green rushed for 66 yards on 12 rushing attempts, caught one pass for 33 yards, and returned one kickoff for 24 yards.
For the 1983 season, Green rushed for 497 yards and the above-described three touchdowns on 104 rushing attempts, caught 25 passes for 167 yards and the above-described one touchdown, and returned 17 kickoffs for 350 yards.
Green’s 4.8 average yards per rushing attempt ranked tied for fifth in the NFL in 1983.
Cleveland compiled a 9-7 record in 1983.
In 1984, Green saw more playing time, playing in all 16, and starting 10, regular season games for the Browns.
On September 23, 1984, Green started his first regular season game in 1984, in a 20-10 Cleveland triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Green rushed for 41 yards on 16 rushing attempts and caught three passes for 76 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass from Browns quarterback Paul McDonald.
In a 17-16 Cleveland loss to the New England Patriots on October 7, 1984, Green started the game and rushed for 33 yards on 19 rushing attempts.
Green next started on October 28, 1984, in a 16-14 Browns loss to the New Orleans Saints.
He rushed for 74 yards on 23 rushing attempts and caught one pass for five yards.
The following week, on November 4, 1984, Green started and rushed for 156 yards on 29 rushing attempts, as Cleveland defeated the Buffalo Bills 13-10.
In the next game, on November 11, 1984, Green started and rushed for 38 yards on 13 rushing attempts and caught two passes for 11 yards, in a 41-7 Browns loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The following week, on November 18, 1984, Green started and rushed for 121 yards on 30 rushing attempts, in a 23-7 Cleveland victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
He also caught one pass for nine yards.
In the next game, on November 25, 1984, in a 27-10 Browns win over the Houston Oilers, Green started and rushed for 74 yards on 26 rushing attempts.
The following week, on December 2, 1984, Green started and rushed for 35 yards on 12 rushing attempts, in a 20-17 Cleveland loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the next game, on December 9, 1984, in a 23-20 Browns loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green started, rushed for 25 yards on 11 rushing attempts, and caught two passes for nine yards.
The following week, on December 16, 1984, Green started for the eighth consecutive game, in a 27-20 Cleveland victory over the Houston Oilers.
Green rushed for 57 yards on 10 rushing attempts and caught one pass for eight yards.
Green, for the 1984 season, rushed for 673 yards (leading the Browns) on 202 rushing attempts and caught 12 passes for 124 yards and the above-described one touchdown.
In 1984, Cleveland had a 5-11 record.
Largely due to the acquisition of running back Kevin Mack, Green saw significantly less playing time in 1985, moving from a starter at running back to a “special teams” player. In 1985, Green played in 13, but did not start any, regular season games for the Browns.
Cleveland head coach Marty Schottenheimer described Green as “a positive force” playing on kickoff and punt coverages in 1985.
Schottenheimer further stated:
“Boyce is an excellent role player. True, he may be a bit disappointed that he doesn’t play in the backfield anymore. But we’re trying to build a winning tradition here. Boyce knows that, accepts that and wants to be a part of it.”
“I really like Cleveland – I like living here. I still like playing for the Browns, though maybe there are times when I wish I were playing more. I can understand the team using Kevin Mack now. He’s a really good runner. But I feel my progress was halted just when I was starting to mature. I won’t become a better player playing on special teams. . . . Not playing much tends to give you doubts about yourself. I think sometimes about my rookie year and last year and say ‘I did that?’ But the mood doesn’t last long. I know I’m an insurance policy in case someone else gets hurt. I only wish somebody else was my insurance instead.”
For the 1985 season, Green had no rushing attempts nor pass receptions.
He did return two kickoffs for 20 yards.
Green was part of Cleveland’s “special teams” units, which in the 1985 NFL regular season ranked fifth in average yards per kickoff return (23.0), second in fewest total kickoff return yards allowed (884), first in lowest average yards per kickoff return allowed (17.3), ninth in fewest total punt return yards allowed (304), and ninth in lowest average yards per punt return allowed (8.4).
With Kevin Mack (1,104 rushing yards) and Earnest Byner (1,002 rushing yards) as running backs, each rushing for over 1,000 yards, the Browns, with an 8-8 record, won the AFC Central Division title in 1985.
In the 1985 NFL playoffs, Cleveland played the Miami Dolphins on January 4, 1986.
Green played in, but did not start, the playoff game, which the Browns lost to Miami 24-21.
On April 29, 1986, the Browns traded Green to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in the 1986 NFL draft.
Cleveland used the draft pick to select quarterback Mike Norseth.
In 1986, with the Chiefs, Green played in all 16, and started seven, regular season games.
On October 5, 1986, Green started and scored a touchdown on an 18-yard run, in a 24-17 Kansas City loss to the Los Angeles Raiders.
Green rushed for 39 yards on eight rushing attempts and caught two passes for 15 yards.
In a 42-41 Chiefs win over the San Diego Chargers on October 19, 1986, Green rushed for one yard on six rushing attempts, including a one-yard touchdown run.
Green started and rushed for one yard on five rushing attempts, including a one-yard touchdown run, as Kansas City defeated the Denver Broncos 37-10 on December 7, 1986.
He also caught one pass for seven yards.
On December 21, 1986, Green started and returned one kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown, in a 24-19 Chiefs victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Green also rushed for 14 yards on three rushing attempts and caught two passes for seven yards.
For the 1986 regular season, Green rushed for 314 yards and the above-described three touchdowns on 90 rushing attempts, caught 19 passes for 137 yards, and returned 10 kickoffs for 254 yards and the above-described one touchdown.
Kansas City, with a 10-6 record, earned a “wild card” playoff berth in the 1986 NFL playoffs.
The Chiefs then played the New York Jets on December 28, 1986.
Green started the game, rushed for 15 yards on eight rushing attempts, and caught five passes for seven yards.
However, Kansas City lost to the Jets 35-15.
On August 31, 1987, Green was waived by the Chiefs.
He next signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
Green played in and started two regular season games for Seattle in 1987.
In those two games, Green rushed for 77 yards on 21 rushing attempts and returned one kickoff for 20 yards.
The Seahawks had a 9-6 record in 1987, earned a “wild card” playoff berth, and lost in the 1987 NFL playoffs to the Houston Oilers 23-20 in overtime on January 3, 1988 (Green did not play in the playoff game).
1987 was Green’s last season in the NFL.
The Years After Professional Football
After his retirement from the NFL, Green has worked for over 30 years for State Farm Insurance.
Green was a State Farm Agent from 1991 to 1995 and a State Farm Agency Field Consultant from 1995 to 1998.
Since 1998, Green has been a State Farm Sales Leader for over 23 years.
In 2004, Green was certified as a Chartered Leadership Fellow (related to financial services).
Green was inducted into the Carson-Newman Hall of Fame in 2002.
— Atticus Chubb Lovecraft #D4L (@darkebloc) November 12, 2018
In 2006, Green was inducted into the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame.
From his three seasons with the Browns from 1983 to 1985, Green ranks 29th in Cleveland career rushing yards, with 1,170 yards.
However, it is important to remember that Green accumulated these rushing yards over only a three-year career with the Browns.
More accurately, because Green did not receive any rushing attempts in 1985, he in effect accumulated his rushing yards over only two seasons.
When judged over these two seasons, Green averaged 585 rushing yards per Cleveland season.
This average exceeds the average rushing yards per Cleveland season of such Browns running backs as Cleo Miller, Leroy Hoard, Bo Scott, and Jerome Harrison, who rank higher than Green in terms of Cleveland career rushing yards.
Had Green played longer for the Browns, an argument can be made that he would have been able to significantly increase his Cleveland career rushing yards.
First, as of 1985, only two players – Jim Brown and fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell – had rushed for more yards in their first two seasons with Cleveland than Green.
Second, Green had four regular season games in which he rushed for over 100 yards over 1983 and 1984.
He also rushed for over 100 yards in three of the 12 regular season games that he started for the Browns (a very impressive one out of every four regular season games).
Based on Green’s performance in 1983 and 1984, it is entirely possible that Green could have been a very productive running back for the Browns in 1985 and after 1985, perhaps even matching the play of Kevin Mack (who essentially replaced Green in the Browns backfield) in helping Cleveland achieve team success in the late 1980’s.
Green also contributed to Cleveland as a pass receiver and on “special teams”.
In fact, Green’s play on “special teams” helped the Browns achieve team success in the 1985 season (winning the AFC Central Division title).
Unfortunately, Boyce Green had too short of a career with Cleveland to be viewed as one of the top running backs in Browns history.
However, for what he did accomplish over his three seasons, Green still deserves to be recognized and appreciated by Cleveland fans.