Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green, a 2006 graduate of Tulare Union High, returned to a hero’s welcome at his alma mater Friday.
His NFL team won Super Bowl 50, and Green wore his No. 85 jersey as he signed autographs and posed for pictures with clearly thrilled Tulare residents and students.
“It’s amazing,” said Evelyn Coronado, 17, a high school senior. “It’s so great to see him. … It’s great that he cares about his community.”
Tulare resident James Johnson asked Green to sign a Super Bowl 50 commemorative football and posed for a photo with him.
“I’m proud of him,” Johnson said. “He’s staying humble. He achieved a great thing. He came back to Tulare and is showing his love to everybody.”
A parade from City Hall to the high school a few blocks away was held in Green’s honor.
The football star rode in a firetruck with his father, also named Virgil Green.
His father said Virgil and his brother Jeremiah were very close as children and still are as they prepare to open an athletic training center in Visalia.
“They were into wrestling,” he said. “They used to believe in the WWF and all that stuff. I told them, that stuff’s not real. One time I was walking down the hallway, Virgil had my youngest son Jeremiah upside down about to do a piledriver. I go, ‘No, no! Don’t do that.’ ”
At the school, students and members of the public crowded into a gym for a rally.
Green said he had to train hard to get to the National Football League.
In high school, he thought he was good in sports, but when he got to the University of Nevada, “I certainly didn’t think I would make it to the NFL.”
Last year, Green signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar contract with the Broncos.
Before the parade began, he said he didn’t have his Super Bowl ring with him because the rings still are being made, but he would bring it to Tulare next time he visits.
In response to a question about the Redskins name controversy, he said he liked being a Redskin at Tulare Union High.
“I’m Redskins through and through,” he said. “My blood bleeds Redskins. My wife will tell you when I got up to Nevada, I was all Redskins. … My heart definitely lies there.”
But the school mascot will soon change to comply with a state law banning the Redskins name and mascot.
“It’s something that’s going to happen, it has to happen, so we will adjust to change,” he said.