David Greene was back in Snellville on Wednesday afternoon to accept one of the most individual honors that can be bestowed in athletics - a jersey retirement.
The ceremony was totally about him, about his football records at South Gwinnett and Georgia. It was about a guy who helped South from an 0-10 record his sophomore year to back-to-back playoff appearances his final two seasons. A guy who didn't win a game as a 10th-grader, but went on to win more in college than any starting quarterback in NCAA history.
The limelight was all his, and someone with a different makeup would wallow in it, sort of enjoy the celebrity status. But not Greenie.
He's an NFL quarterback now for a Seattle team that played in the Super Bowl, but the 23-year-old still truly considers himself just a regular guy.
South people love Greene for that humility, how he's so approachable. Fame as a Georgia Bulldog and truckloads of records didn't change him, and neither has an NFL career. Except for carrying an additional 40 pounds of muscle, he's the same David Greene as the skinny left-hander who graduated from South in 2000. He still calls the area home, and it's where he and his fiancee, Veronica Clark, plan to live down the road.
"The guy does not know how successful he is," South head football coach John Small said. "He's just so humble. It's such a good feeling to talk to him because he's genuine. He's more worried about other people than himself. You just love to see people like that succeed."
That's why the atmosphere was such as it was on Wednesday. It was less like a star QB and NFL player in town, and more like an old buddy was coming home to check out a game.
A few kids were timid about approaching Greene for an autograph, but they shouldn't have been. He signed with a smile, and exchanged hugs and handshakes with the hometown crowd.
Asked about the day, Greene wanted to make one point. Not surprisingly, it wasn't about himself.
"None of this would have happened to me if it wasn't for Coach T.," Greene said, referring to South's former head football coach T. McFerrin. "That's what I wanted to get across today. Coach T. and his staff and the players around me, they're the reason why all this happened for me. It's just good to come back and be a part of this.
"It's good to see everybody and share it with them. I know it's an individual record, but there are so many people who deserve credit for what I did."
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnett
dailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.