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QB Trent Green quietly knitting together great career

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Trent Green has come a long way since being the 222nd pick in the 1993 NFL draft.

He was cut in San Diego, then in Canada and underwent four knee surgeries _ only to become the league's most efficient quarterback over the past three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kansas City fans were dismayed when Dick Vermeil rolled the dice and gave up a first-round draft choice to get what looked like damaged and unproven goods from St. Louis in 2001.

That was just about the riskiest gamble Vermeil has made in his long career and, it turns out, one of the shrewdest.

The one-time football vagabond has been chief engineer of one of the NFL's most prolific offenses for three years in a row. With just two games left in the regular season, Green's on the verge of becoming the only quarterback in the NFL with an active streak of three straight seasons with a 90.0 passer efficiency rating. That's better than any other quarterback, including Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb.

It's almost a secret,'' Vermeil said.If he was in Chicago, he might be doing shaving cream commercials for what he's done.''

Going into Saturday's game with Oakland, Green is tied for the NFL lead with six 300-yard passing games. He's completed 304 of 458 passes for 3,860 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions _ five of which Vermeil insists were not Green's fault.

His passing yardage is third in the NFL, and he ranks fifth with a rating of 99.1.

But the number Green is probably most proud of is 62 _ the team record for consecutive starts by a quarterback. He's defied just about everyone's predictions after his knee was so badly injured in a 1999 preseason game in St. Louis.

Consistency is the one thing that I really strive for,'' Green said.There were so many questions when the trade was made in terms of staying healthy and being able to overcome the knee injury and all the surgeries.''

Also making the trade look shaky was the fact that he'd played only one full year, in Washington in 1998.

``There was a lot I wanted to prove not only to myself, but to everybody else in terms of being able to stay healthy and be productive on a year-to-year basis,'' he said.

Green will likely become the seventh quarterback in league history to post three consecutive seasons with a 90-percent passer efficiency rating.

I'm not trying to prove anybody wrong or trying to put it in anybody's face,'' he said.To me, it's more of a personal thing.''

``When I was an eighth round pick, I felt I was better than an eight-round pick. When I was cut I felt I was better than that. I always felt if I got an opportunity to play I could play well.''

In Washington from 1995-97, he threw only one pass. Then he started 14 games in 1998 and finally got an opportunity to showcase his skills, throwing for 3,441 yards and 23 touchdowns.

He also made a lifelong fan in coach Norv Turner, who will now be opposing him on Sunday as head coach of the Raiders.

We look for role models in all different walks of life,'' said Turner.I don't know if Trent realizes the affect he had on so many people in Washington. All the coaches and players recognized Trent for a guy who would be a heck of a player when given the opportunity.''

The work ethic he's brought to bear on his four seasons in Kansas City was apparent even then.

He was the hardest-working guy in our locker room, the first guy in there in the offseason,'' Turner said.He's a great example of a guy who said, `I can get this done and when I get this chance I'm going to be ready to handle it.'''

With the Chiefs sitting at 6-8, Green does not expect to make the Pro Bowl for the second straight year. Not only does he play in a small media market, he plays for a mediocre team.

``Sometimes when you have a guy who climbed the ladder the way he has and wasn't a highly touted guy, a high draft pick, people just have a hard time realizing how good he is,'' Turner said.

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