Towering over a Hyundai Sonata, Karson Green checks his phone.
It’s halftime. Iowa State is up 14-10.
The feeling is bittersweet for the 6’4” former offensive tackle who recently traded his long golden locks for a faux hawk as he sells cars at Carter County Hyundai.
If not for a serious medical condition that forced him to retire in January, Green would be in Memphis playing in the Liberty Bowl with his teammates.
Now he’s keeping busy with customers in the midst of the end of year closeouts at the car dealership.
“Life comes at you fast,” Green said.
It’s been a year since the former Madill standout hung up his cleats. He lost his ability to play the game he loved, lived and breathed since he was a kid. But he could’ve lost more.
According to doctors, he was three months away from losing his life.
“It just hit me out of nowhere,” Green said. “I made the next step in my big dream. And it was all taken from me.”
The condition blindsided the tackle, who had recently accomplished his dream of playing in the Big 12. He’d just made it out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, a junior college, and to the next level at Iowa State. His next step would be the NFL, he said.
But in 2016, as he was making dinner in Ames, something went wrong.
“I was cooking and next thing I know, I wake up and there’s food on me,” he said. “I blacked out in our kitchen, hit my head on the wall — I didn’t know what was wrong at the time, but I just felt weird.”
His health issues snowballed after that point.
He had seizures. He had issues with his liver and his skin changed into an odd color.
At times he felt like he couldn’t eat enough. At times he couldn’t eat at all. He felt terrible, he said.
He went to doctors and found answers. None that he was looking for.
At Iowa State he played at over 300 pounds, by the time he checked into the doctors office, he was nearly cut in half, weighing 168 pounds.
“It just snowballed,” Green said. “I was pretty near death. There was no way I could play football, I was trying to survive, I was just trying not to die.”
The specialists told him if he hadn’t come in, he would have been dead in three months. And by January, he faced a harsh truth. His career playing football was over.
“God had other plans for me,” he said. “My body just shut down.”
But for all the pain of losing his ability to play football, he gained perspective, he said.
He was blessed. He was alive.
“I’m a tough guy, but I cried,” Green said. “God was really watching over me, I should’ve been dead.”
While bouncing in between specialists, and staying at a treatment facility in St Louis, Green finished his degree online, graduating from Iowa State with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. And unlike many students, he graduated without a pile of debt.
Though he lost his physical ability to play football, the game never left him.
After returning to southern Oklahoma, Green got a job at Carter County Hyundai.
His boss, Rocky Atencio, who also coaches wrestling at Plainview introduced Green to Plainview football coach Joe Price.
Coach Price said Green caught his eye in 2014 when he played Madill. And when he heard Green was looking to help out his staff he didn’t hesitate.
Midway through the season, Green stepped back into football as a volunteer offensive and defensive line coach at Plainview.
“He’s got a lot of football knowledge, he relates well to the kids and he has a love for the game,” Price said. “I think he’ll grow into a great coach.”
And while his initial dream of playing football was taken from him, Green said he’s realizing a new dream in coaching football.
“I’m not out of the game,” Green said. “This is what I want to do. My end goal is to be a football coach at whatever level I can get to.”
Green has always been a student of the game. As a kid, he had a 90 page book filled with plays he designed. And now he gets to spread the knowledge and his unique experience to kids like him.
He can teach X’s and O’s, and technique. He can lend his insight to kids on the recruitment process and what it’s like to play at the FBS level. But most importantly, he said, he can show players how to deal with adversity — how to overcome loss and persevere.
Coaches have always made an impact on Green’s life. Growing up, his grandpa was his coach. At Madill, he said Milton Cooper taught him how to be a man. And at NEO Chris Jergens taught him how to be great, eventually leading him to becoming the No. 1 ranked JUCO offensive tackle in Oklahoma.
Now, he just wants to pass on the knowledge and experience he’s gained.
“It’s great to spread my knowledge, it’s what I have to give,” he said.