Son of former NFL star ready for pro baseball

July 17th, 2022

The Nationals selected Elijah Green with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 Draft. Here's a deeper look at Green that was first published on in the weeks leading up to the Draft.

Eric Green thought his son was destined to follow in his footsteps.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection and 1990 All-Pro, Green excelled as a tight end with the Steelers, Dolphins, Ravens and Jets during a 10-year NFL career. His son, Elijah, was thriving as an AAU quarterback, leading his team to a pair of 8U titles before winning championships at the 10U and 12U levels.

Elijah also loved playing baseball, but his father believed his football acumen would lead him to a high-profile college career and potentially the pros. When Elijah’s 12-year-old Little League team went to Cooperstown for the annual summer tournament, he hit sixth or seventh in the lineup.

“He saw football a lot better than he saw baseball at the time,” Eric said. “He knew the game.”

But baseball was Elijah’s first love, the game that occupied a special place in his soul. At the age of 13, Elijah decided to give up football and focus exclusively on baseball, paving a path toward what he hoped would be his own professional sports journey.

“It was just a love for baseball for me,” Elijah said. “The game of football took away baseball for me for half the year, so quitting football just showed my true love for baseball. It really was a tough time for me because my dad played in the NFL, but he has supported me through it all.”

The decision was “extremely tough” on Eric, who wanted the best for his son. Although he envisioned great things for Elijah in football, he gave him a piece of advice on how to thrive on the diamond.

“I told him, ‘How hard you work, that’s how much attention you’re going to get when it’s time for you to get attention,’” Eric said. “He took that to heart. When he went to full-time baseball, he was not the best player on his team; he was probably not in the top five. I have gradually seen him work at what he said he loved and become one of the top guys in his class.”

Eric, Leslie and Elijah Green, as Elijah accepts the 2021 Jackie Robinson Award for being the Perfect Game National Player of the Year.Courtesy of the Green family

Now Elijah finds himself as one of the top prospects in this year’s MLB Draft, a five-tool player viewed by many as having the biggest upside of anybody in the 2022 class.

The Greens have a chance to make some history, too: should Elijah go in the first round, he would be the first son of a former NFL first-rounder to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft.

Eric and Elijah GreenCourtesy of the Green family

In his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Elijah hit .462 with a 1.592 OPS, nine home runs, 32 RBIs and 40 runs scored in 25 games, showing a speed/power combination that has thrust the 18-year-old into the upper echelon of draft prospects.

“I’m trying to perfect everything all the time,” Elijah said. “Baseball is a game of failure – you’re going to fail 70 percent of the time – so I feel like I can continue to perfect everything by working hard every day.”

While playing for coaches such as Don Shula, Chuck Noll and Bill Parcells, Eric learned a lot about what it takes to be a professional, not to mention the qualities necessary to be a leader. He has tried to pass that knowledge along to Elijah through the years, instilling a work ethic in his son that has helped him blossom on and off the field.

“This is what he’s done all his life; my son is a worker,” Eric said. “If you really want to be good, you just can't wake up and expect to be good; you really have to work at it.”

“He always told me, ‘You never know who is watching, so always play hard, keep going and never quit,’” Elijah said. “From a young age, he’s told me, ‘Always do the right, not the wrong.’ I feel like me doing the right and not the wrong has always showed and people just want to follow that throughout anything in life.”

Elijah’s favorite player growing up was Derek Jeter, but he cited a current Yankees icon and a three-time American League Most Valuable Player when asked who he felt his game resembled.

“Whenever I watch a Yankees game with Aaron Judge or a game with Mike Trout, I watch them closely,” Elijah said. “They play the same position as me, we're all big, strong guys who can do everything in the game of baseball, so I have kind of modeled my game after them.”

“Since the age of 14, he's been doing interviews and he's been talking about Mike Trout,” Eric said. “He wants to be great. If he wasn't putting forth the work and the effort, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now. He has that inner drive.”

One Major League scouting director compared Elijah to “a young Dave Parker from the right side of the plate,” adding that he has “a great ceiling.”

“He combines high-end athleticism, explosive tools, and makeup that includes competitiveness and class,” the scouting director said.

Growing up as the son of a professional athlete has taught Elijah one important lesson: team goals are far more significant than personal ones.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we win a World Series,” Elijah said. “I've been dreaming about this for my whole life.”