BUTTE — Looking back, Bob Green figures he had been at risk of developing cancer since his tour of duty during the Vietnam War, where the young Marine found himself frequently exposed to Agent Orange, the infamous herbicide once used to poison dense jungle foliage that's had a lasting health impact on a generation of veterans.
After his service was complete, Green began regularly having his PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels checked. After years of regularly registering high PSA scores over the next decades — and across a span where he became one of the most recognizable coaches (with one of the most distinctive voices) in Montana Tech athletics — his biopsy came back with a positive result.
"So I had to go get it fixed," Green said matter-of-factly during an interview in Tech's Hall of Fame Room last week.
After a pair of operations and a few months of recovery, the self-proclaimed "Gerriatric Coach" was cancer free.
“The Old Coach finally got a ‘presently, no cancer present report’!— Bob Green (@coachbobgreen) August 11, 2022
Truly thankful for the incredible best wishes/prayers and treatments received over the past year! Green’s prayers travel the miles to all who battle this disease! Again, thank you!”#CoachBobGreen pic.twitter.com/TSo4lBO2Mz
The man who guided Tech's football program for 24 seasons and was as known for his success on the field as he was for his often zany figurative language — with a penchant for delivering snappy similes and memorable metaphors — was very direct in discussing how he felt about being issued a clean bill of health.
"It feels great, I was very fortunate," Green said. "I had a great bunch of doctors and medical team working on it. I'm very lucky. I'm just grateful.
"I enjoy every day. It didn't take cancer to let me appreciate every day. I'm appreciating every day. I'm fortunate that I have a wonderful wife, family. I look forward to every day."
One thing Green missed during his recovery was his favorite pastime, golf. He said he's enjoyed getting back on the fairway even if his wallet is usually a little lighter at the end of the round.
"Those guys call me 'the ATM' they take so much money off me at Fairmont," Green quipped.
Not much explanation is required for the catalogue of witty one-liners Green was known for delivering. Videos that compile some of his best quotes — such as once comparing his team's efforts in a loss to 'the kid that plays second French horn in the school band' — continue to circulate on social media, over a decade after he stepped away from the sideline.
His reasoning for peppering interviews with comic and eccentric responses — some improvised, some that he had 'in the pocket' — was simple.
"My philosophy was always if you could interact with the TV, the newspaper guys, the radio guys, that's good for your program," Green said. "And that's good for the institution."