The game had plenty of drama for Week 1 in the NFL.
Tom Brady’s first game in a new uniform with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A matchup between two of the all-time great quarterbacks in Brady and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. And of course the oddity of a game being played in an empty stadium as the nation continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buried a little deeper in Sunday afternoon’s game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was a bit of Riverhead history.
Former standout Riverhead football player Ethan Greenidge made his debut on the field during a regular season game when he lined up at left tackle on the offensive line for a handful of special teams plays. It was the first time No. 73 reached the field since Week 4 of last year’s preseason. (There were no NFL preseason games this year due to the pandemic).
Greenidge, who grew up in Flanders, became the first Riverhead grad to appear in a regular season NFL game since Scott Mersereau finished his seven-year career on Jan. 2, 1993 with the New York Jets.
The Saints went on to win 34-23 Sunday.
Greenidge, who was undrafted out of Villanova University, made the Saints’ 53-man roster for the second straight season. The 23-year-old, who’s 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds, is listed as second on the team’s depth chart at left tackle behind eight-year veteran Terron Armstead. He’s also listed as the backup right tackle behind starter Ryan Ramczyk.
Greenidge spent much of the offseason in Dallas training for the upcoming season. The pandemic forced teams to eliminate much of the team activities that would typically take place prior to training camp.
The Saints have invested heavily in fortifying their offensive line with young talent in the last two drafts. They selected center Erik McCoy with their first pick in the 2nd round in 2019 and then selected center Cesar Ruiz in the 1st round of April’s draft. Ruiz is currently injured and did not suit up Week 1.
Greenidge played four years at Villanova after graduating from Riverhead in 2015. As a member of the Blue Waves, Greenidge played basketball and competed in track and field as well.
He was the News-Review’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2019.