Exclusive with Former NFL Player Brandon Green
Former NFL Football player and Texas native, Brandon Green, likes to refer to himself as “joyfully busy” these days.
Although he is no longer out on the football field professionally, his three children keep him on his toes – ages 5, 3, and 1. What makes Brandon’s day-to-day even more demanding is managing his Type 1 diabetes.
Although Brandon describes his own diagnosis as filled with a lot of “despair, crying and dealing with the emotional stuff,” a short four years later, Brandon’s brother was diagnosed at age 16.
“He was driving and told me that he was feeling really thirsty all the time,” Brandon recalled. “I took his blood sugar and it was 260.”
“I had a sense of community in my own house,” Brandon said, following his brother’s diagnosis.
“I thought my dreams were gone,” Brandon said of his athletic goals. “I thought I ‘d spend my whole life trying to catch up to this machine of diabetes.”
While in the NFL, Brandon went through a lot of what he called “trial and error” to get a sense of how different foods would affect his blood sugar levels so that he could be at the top of his athletic game.
“I learned how to put protein in my body my blood sugar wouldn’t crash so abruptly,” he said. “Before CGMs, I took my own blood a lot and realized knowing the direction of my blood sugar helped me avoid some bad situations.”
Brandon played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
“At the professional level, you could lose your job if you have to sit out,” Brandon said. “You have to operate like you don’t have it – people won’t feel sorry for you and you’ll have to compete like everyone else.”
After 15 years of experience as a professional athlete as well as being an athletic director at a school, Brandon now frequently speaks at T1D camps along with all other outreach initiatives when it comes to children and teens with Type 1.
“Brandon is the guy that anyone in Houston calls if there is a teen with T1D having trouble,” said Anne Imber, who is also highly involved in T1D advocacy in the Houston area and often works with Brandon on their various outreach initiatives.
“Encouraging is the thing that I am pretty good at and can do naturally,” Brandon said.
“I love sports and I love the values it teaches in kids – how to live life and battle through struggles and be a part of a team. I would hate to think people think they can’t be a part of that experience.”
In addition to his T1D outreach initiatives, Brandon is the director of an assisted living home for seniors who have dementia. He was inspired by his grandmother who is living with advanced stage Alzheimer’s.
Outside of his life with T1D and in healthcare, Brandon takes good care to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. He enjoys waking up each morning with a good cup of coffee, and he often goes duck hunting with his family and friends.
“They are amazing animals, the way they migrate and their beauty,” he said. “You see the sun come up and the world wake up. There’s no TV or technology and it tends to increase the relationship with the people you do that with. It’s a social event.”
“It is so easy to focus too much on diabetes,” Brandon admitted.
“It takes more mental focus as you mature. As an athlete, you have to focus on your opponent and game plan. You want to get to the point that you are thinking about your work – your art, the game.” He said. “You want to get to the point you don’t have to think about it to do what you love.”