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South retires Greene's jersey

SNELLVILLE - For many South Gwinnett High School sports fans, Wednesday afternoon was the ideal setting.

It was opening day of the baseball season. The warm, sunny weather was fan friendly. And one of the Comets' favorite sons was back in town.

South honored famous alum David Greene prior to a 5-4 win over Loganville, retiring the current Seattle Seahawks quarterback's No. 15 football jersey in front of a crowd of friends and Comet backers.

"It's probably the one thing you really can't describe how it feels because it's surreal," said Greene, in town for another few weeks before returning to Seattle for conditioning. "You don't really know what to say. It's a tremendous honor that no one else will ever wear 15 on the football field. It's just an honor."

Greene's family joined him on the field for the ceremony, along with a handful of his former coaches. Others just came to watch and many youngsters approached him for autographs - the left-hander gladly signed every one.

Ask the people out for Wednesday's game, and they will say that's part of Greene's charm. Sure he won more games as a starting quarterback than any player in NCAA history, and he's barely removed from his Seattle team playing in the Super Bowl, but he always has time to come back home.

"He deserves this for more than just what he did from a football standpoint," said South baseball coach Roger Parham, who coached Greene in that sport. "Of course he broke unbelievable records, and what he was able to do in his four-year (Georgia) career, and now he's in the NFL. But a lot of why we wanted to honor him is what he meant to this community and this school. The David Greene you see today is the same David Greene that graduated from South.

"He's a great guy. It's about what he's done, but more about who he is. They love him around here. They truly love him. Because he's Greenie. He's not David Greene. He's not this icon. He's a real guy who cares about people."

Former South head football coach T. McFerrin, who retired after the 2004 season, said he wanted to retire Greene's jersey at the end of that year. But Georgia's bowl game didn't allow Greene time to return for the South football banquet, and he couldn't get to a game this season because of his commitments with the Seahawks.

So baseball season seemed like a good time to officially put No. 15 into retirement.

"It's something I wanted to do before too long, get this done," McFerrin said. "David's certainly deserving and the records indicate that. But just the way he's conducted himself off the field and represented South and the University of Georgia make him very special."

Current South head football coach John Small, an assistant when Greene was a Comet, couldn't agree more.

"We're proud to have (Greene) as a role model for these young kids around here," Small said. "The things he accomplished and the way he carried himself with integrity, just the way he's represented his community is great. We just wanted to put his jersey up on the wall so kids would have something to shoot for.

"If we can have a few more kids like him as an individual, we're going to be in pretty good shape in this world."