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Former NFL star Ahman Green is becoming an esports coach

Outside of football, Ahman Green's passion is esports, and he's following that passion to a coaching job for Lakeland University. Lakeland University

Four-time NFL Pro Bowl running back and Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame inductee Ahman Green has a new job: esports coach at Wisconsin's Lakeland University.

While this might come as a surprise to those familiar with only his professional football career, Green has been a longtime advocate of gaming and esports, building on a love of video games he has had since he was a child playing Madden and Tecmo Bowl. Currently, Green's personal game of choice is Halo 5: Guardians, and he is eagerly anticipating the release of Halo Infinite.

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"The tournaments and competition have always been there," Green said via email of esports' recent growth. "In the last decade, big business has learned enough about esports to understand how to make money in different ways and with that interest, the growth has multiplied exponentially."

After his retirement from football in 2011, Green hosted an esports talk show, "True Game Fans Network." He said his favorite professional esports to watch are Counterstrike: Global Offensive and Madden. The industry has ballooned since Green began talking about it on the radio, with many athletes from traditional sports and teams becoming investors or more directly involved in esports, particularly in franchised leagues such as the League of Legends Championship Series or the Overwatch League.

"More people and places are talking about esports and making it a focus of discussion and making more content about esports everywhere," Green said. "The NFL, NBA and other business industries are paying attention to the popularity of esports and with that attention esports will continue to grow."

Lakeland University is a liberal arts school in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Its esports program will cover several competitive games, including League of Legends, Overwatch, Paladins, Rocket League, Smite, Fortnite, CS:GO and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. As coach of the entire esports program, Green said he hopes to instill some of the values and infrastructure he learned through his years in the NFL.

"As a former NFL pro I can bring the skills like preparation, leadership and sportsmanship, which all can help you get better at your craft," Green said. "Also, skills like practicing and reviewing game film and learning from your mistakes and getting better. We'll also focus on becoming better at communication amongst the teams that we have at Lakeland University, and learning proper sportsmanship as an esports athlete."

As for skills that translate from traditional sports to esports, Green echoed the sentiments of other professional athletes who have moved into the esports space: hard work, dedication, and accountability are all key factors to success.

"Hard work in football and esports mirror each other," Green said. "Outworking your opponent can help win more games overall. Dedication is a skill that means you will do anything and everything to help your team win in a positive way. Hold yourself to be accountable. Individuals don't win games ... teams do. You must learn how to be accountable to the people around you."