About the Author:
Howdy, Mean Green Nation, my name is Melvin Greene, mild-mannered North Texas fan. I was born in Houston, TX but got to North Texas as fast as I could. I am the admin for @MeanGreenMan23 and have been asked by various people among Mean Green Nation as to the identity of this “masked man”. Truth is; he is no one special. He loves football, he loves the University of North Texas, and he loves having a good time. When I trace back his twelve years of North Texas fandom, it’s as if this were his destiny. I know he wouldn’t have it any other way and I hope to explain how this MeanGreenMan came to be.
I first met this super-fan at our first game of our freshman year at the University of North Texas in the fall of 2002. He staggered the streets of campus as he made his way to Fouts Field. When he sat down next to me there in the front row, his eyes were, well, as they say, “as red as the devil’s d…”, uh, skin, let’s go with skin.
He informed me of a severe case of pink eye he was battling that brought a high fever and I should keep my distance while avoiding any contact. Yikes, this guy was in bad shape. He did not let that hold him back from doing everything he could do to will his team to victory. He yelled, screamed, clapped, cheered until the game was over and the Mean Green emerged victorious. He spent the first game and the rest of the season running the flag and firing Boomer. The team exceled on the field and although he had nothing to do with it, he couldn’t help feel like he was a small part of something special.
During the second fall on campus, he returned to the front row seat on the 50 yard line of Fouts Field. While watching the team warm-up, he decided he should get a Sprite in order to quench his thirst prior to kick off. When he returned from the concession stand, three girls had taken his seat. They were freshman and new to Talons, but rather than revert to his shy, introvert self, he decided to sit himself right down beside them. One of these girls in particular really caught his attention. They spent the next few weeks getting to know each other while building the bonfire. On the night before burn in 2003, they sat at the top of the stack and shared their first kiss of many more to come.
Mean Green Football had come to represent much more to this man, even though it had already meant a great deal. As the years went by, he continued to attend games but each year it seemed as though he became much more of a spectator than the young man I had seen exhaust every ounce of energy he had to will his Mean Green to victory. He had become much more like me, Melvin Greene, mild-mannered North Texas fan. He didn’t want to appear obnoxious or disruptive to others in attendance. Even worse, as an alumnus he felt as though his days were over and it was a new generation’s responsibility to “bring da noise”.
His love for the Mean Green never wavered. He took the jokes in stride whenever co-workers or even other alumni would laugh at his undying love for the Mean Green. He was aware the Mean Green Football he had experienced as a student was dead. The new coach’s mantra was “it’s wide-open!” as in a run and gun, finesse football style. He was a fan of the smash-mouth; get your lunch-pail and hard-hat football that he was fortunate enough to witness as a student.
In 2011, Dan McCarney was hired. Coach Mac would not only bring back that type of football, he would bring a philosophy that would change his entire life; Mean Green Family. This concept alone has not only had an immense impact on his life, but so many throughout UNT. It is impossible to listen to the man and not be moved. The first couple of years under Coach Mac, it was easy to tell that there was a new feel around this program. As the team set out in their third year under the leadership of Coach Mac, they rallied around one single goal, hit 6.
“MeanGreenMan, that’s got a nice ring to it. Kind of catchy.”
His wife bought him a $0.79 mask from Walgreens which he colored in black with a Sharpie. The symbol for the mask came easily to him; the iconic wing zone of Apogee Stadium where he had watched so many North Texas football games the last few years. A simple green T-shirt from Target with black iron on fabric from Hobby Lobby would allow him to stick his chest out for the team he loved, the Mean Green. The gloves would allow him to clap louder and harder than ever before. For him, this was much more than a costume. It was a suit. It represented the strength these coaches and players had instilled in him at a time when he needed it most. This was his homage to them that they were all superheroes.
As a menacing brood of Owls descended upon Apogee looking to continue their domination of CUSA, he appeared before Mean Green Nation. He returned to the front row which meant so much to him with the same effort and energy he had when he was a young man. He was there on a mission to be the type of fan that these players deserved and needed as they looked to accomplish a goal they had been working towards all year. He pounded his fists against the concrete wall; he yelled at the top of his lungs, he gave every ounce of energy he had to will his team to victory. He had finally returned to being that fan I knew from a decade before. The players made a statement, nay, a stand, that night and told the college football world that the MEAN was back in the GREEN.
The stand struck the MeanGreenMan like a bolt of lightning. He had forever been transformed. The North Texas Tip Drill was the cherry on top. The Mean Green had fended off these pesky Owls and claimed the driver’s seat in CUSA-West Division hunt. Mean Green Nation celebrated the heroes on the field and soaked in the glory of Mean Green Football. The team had done it, six victories had been achieved. New opportunities and goals now presented themselves. It was glorious.
The Miners came to Apogee, and I thought for sure he would suit up once more. Unfortunately, he was stricken by a terrible stomach virus and returned to his place high in the wing zone. He couldn’t suit up, yet he also couldn’t miss the game. Just like when he had pink-eye, he advised his friends to avoid contact. When Brandin Bryd broke off a TD run that put the game well in hand for the best second half team in America, he felt safe leaving as the game was well in hand. On his way back to his car, he told a group of students ‘turning up’ on the hill that they would have a much better time ‘turning up’ inside the stadium. They just gave him a blank stare, a stare he would become all too familiar with and would unfortunately see again…
MeanGreenMan Returns: SENIOR DAY
A viscous cold-front struck North Texas and brought a hellish bird of blue & orange to Denton, America. MeanGreenMan arrived to fight off this devilish foe with 30,000 citizens of Apogee. This was it. This was the finale. This was Mean Green Nation’s time to rise up!
Alas, he walked the corridor of Apogee and knew his vision of the crowd that day would not come to fruition. He walked up to a student to introduce himself and express his excitement for the game. The student questioned him as to if this was a fraternity prank. He told him it was no prank and that he was there to cheer for his Mean Green Mean. The student’s face warmed up a little on that cold day, and told him “Go Mean Green”. They then both stared out in silence to the empty seats around them. There would be nowhere close 30,000 citizens of Mean Green Nation in attendance that day and he couldn’t understand why.
He made his way down to his seat in the end zone and couldn’t believe it. He was surrounded by the enemy. There was a child in a blue and orange Roadrunner hat. There was blue and orange to his left. There was blue and orange to his right. He sat there alone, a mere speck of green among an entire row of blue & orange. He stood and clapped for every senior as they were introduced for the final time in Apogee. When the game kicked off, he ran like a fool up and down the empty bleachers of the end zone. There was an anger and frustration in him that brought him a deep sense of emotion. Where were all of these people that had to have been paying attention? There are hundreds of thousands in the DFW-Metro area that are part of the Mean Green Family. They had to have been impacted like he was by the sheer will, guts and determination all these young men display. Why were they not there to show their respect, their pride, their love for these seniors?
He pleaded with the fans that were there to get up, let their voices be heard, clap their hands, to do something, anything. He was met with blank stares from the huddled masses trying to cling to warmth, the same look he had received from the young men ‘turning up’. It’s as if he was the weird one. He cringed with the UTSA noise around him when his Mean Green had the football and the deafening silence the Roadrunner offense operated in. There were a handful of others, and you all know who you are. Whether you were dressed in KFC buckets or sitting behind their bench getting flipped off, you can all attest that the atmosphere in Apogee that day left a lot to be desired.
UTSA had crushed their hopes of hosting the CUSA Title game, but worse, they made MeanGreenMan question Mean Green Nation. Though down, he recalled the words of the Caped Crusader, “the night is darkest just before dawn.”
Dawn couldn’t have come in a more literal sense. The dawn of a new day brought the dawn of a new year and a chance for Mean Green Nation to give the Senior Class the sendoff they deserved. Mean Green Spirit had reached a pinnacle and a sea of green flooded the Cotton Bowl that New Year’s Day. Excitement could be seen on the face of each one of the fans in attendance as they prepared to do their part to will their team to a Bowl Championship.
The Mean Green thwarted off a Red Rebellion in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. A shot had been directly delivered to the sleeping giant’s testicular region. Mean Green Nation had risen and united as one that day. It was truly a sight to behold. It was as if the pain of the UTSA loss was necessary to experience the thrill of this unforgettable New Year’s Day and instill a whole new level of excitement among Mean Green Nation.
Fans rushed the field, players hugged their families and Dan McCarney took to the podium to deliver a message. This was not the end, no; this was truly a new beginning.
As the stands cleared out and people exited with smiles on their faces, I spotted MeanGreenMan at the tunnel near the endzone. There he stood, clapping and praising every member of the Mean Green that he could spot. As I got closer, I could see the tears streaming out from underneath his mask. Tears of joy, tears of appreciation, he was overwhelmed by the character and fortitude displayed by each and every member of his Mean Green Family. For him, this was far more than a victory. This was a display of courage and conviction. The Mean Green had provided him with strength once more and it came at a time when he needed it most. Less than a week after the game, life would throw him the toughest challenge he had ever encountered.
On January 7, 2014, he paced the halls of a hospital while his wife underwent surgery to treat her endometriosis. No mask, no cape, powerless to do anything to protect the woman he loved from a severely painful disease. The doctor called him in after the procedure which was intended to treat her symptoms and allow them to start the family they had been trying to start for nearly two years. She told him, “we found that it was stage 4 and the damage done by the lesions was so severe that we had to perform a partial hysterectomy and unfortunately child-bearing is impossible”. He was once again overcome with emotion but these tears were not of joy. The doctor continued to tell him, “I would advise you not to say anything to her today as she needs a good night’s sleep to recover from the surgery”.
She looked up at him from her hospital bed as she started coming out of the daze of the anesthesia and mumbled, “so we’re good now, right?” He smiled, gave her a thumbs up and said “we’re good”.
He arrived the next morning not knowing how he could deliver the news. He knocked quietly on her door and slowly opened it. She was sitting upright with tears flowing down, her eyes as red as his were with pink-eye, and her lip quivering unable to speak any words. The doctor had said she would wait until he was there, but she had delivered the news prematurely. He began to comfort her and let her know that he would always be there for her. They emerged from this battle together stronger than ever before.
He was now on a man on a mission. He would work harder every day. He would love harder every day. He would push himself to new levels that he couldn’t previously comprehend. He would heed the philosophy of the Mean Green Way each and every day. He would spread as much joy as he could to others. He would give back what he could and be thankful for every blessing he was graced. He started looking to the future and received a daily reminder of what he was striving for. He had to be the best fan he could be.
There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that MeanGreenMan hasn’t seen the Horns. This reminds him of when they told him he wasn’t “smart enough” for their university. It reminds him that his wife wasn’t “rich enough” for their university. That every player on his team isn’t “big enough” or “strong enough” or “fast enough” for their university. That every member of Mean Green Nation is somehow inferior to them in their minds. He is thankful for their doubt. He embraces their words of disrespect. He is grateful his path guided him to North Texas. He acknowledges their superiority complex and it drives him to work harder every day than every other Longhorn. He made it a goal to show up on August 30 among 100,000 fans and without a shadow of the doubt, be the best fan in the stadium that day.
I thought for sure he wouldn’t suit up for the spring game. He would just take the opportunity to relax and take in some Mean Green Football while being anonymous. However, a friend told him he would only be there if MeanGreenMan was there. If it meant one more butt in one more seat, he was happy to suit up. As fate would have it, that friend became a season ticket holder that day. He was glad he did anyway as he saw children’s faces light up at the sight of him. One young boy came to sit next to him and asked, “has anyone ever told you that you look like the Green Lantern?” Being a super-fan allowed him the opportunity to spread joy and put a smile on someone else’s face while they put a smile on his. He was no longer a faceless fan among the masses, but one who was easily recognizable. He could be held accountable for telling others to show up and be loud & proud as he could lead by example. He knew there was no turning back now.
As the record spring crowd filtered out of Apogee, MeanGreenMan walked down to his new lifelong seat. He reflected on the front row and how much it meant. For the first time, he would be in the front row directly behind his team for whom he cared so much. He envisioned the empty stadium filled with 30,000 MeanGreenMen & Women and not 30,000 Mevlin Greenes (no offense taken, buddy). He knew brighter days were ahead and that the fall couldn’t come soon enough. As he was about to exit, he noticed some people making their way back onto the field from the Apogee tunnel. It didn’t take him long to recognize the man in the sunglasses as he began to walk to the top of section 103. Dan McCarney took a photo with a couple of young ladies, and MeanGreenMan shouted excitedly “Coach Mac!”
He looked up into the stands of Apogee as MeanGreenMan looked down at him wanting to thank him for everything he had done that made him the strong man he was today. I wondered what Coach Mac must have been thinking when he spotted him. Without hesitation, Coach Mac pointed at the MeanGreenMan and shouted back, “thank you!” I saw his heart fill with joy. He was speechless. The man who he admired so much, the man who had impacted his life so immensely, was thanking him for doing nothing more than simply being the type of football fan that this program deserved. From that day forward, he set out to spread joy and love across Mean Green Nation in hopes he could make others smile the way so many other members of the Mean Green Family had made him smile.
I attended the Mean Green Club event on July 30 and didn’t see MeanGreenMan there. I wish he would have been. I wish all of the Mean Green Family could have been privy to Coach Dan McCarney’s words that night. Mean Green Family means a lot to Hanna Forst and Cyril Lemon who shared their stories that night. It means a lot to all of UNT’s students and student athletes alike. It means a lot to you, myself, and countless others. Yet, it was easy to see that this meant more to Coach McCarney than it possibly could to anybody else. Dan McCarney is the true hero, the real MeanGreenMan. The guy I’ve been telling you about is just a guy in a suit. He is a guy who listens to this man’s words and tries to live his life by them. He is a guy who loves Mean Green Football and his Mean Green Family. He is a guy you’ll be seeing a lot of for many years to come.
Who is he? Well, that’s not important. The important question is; who are you?