He was a rebel, a flake, a misfit in a game that demands conformity. He showed up for work with bleached hair, a pierced tongue and a right leg that could whale the tar out of the football.
In his two years as the Ravens' punter, Greg Montgomery left a mark on the fans as indelible as the tattoos that still blanket his upper body. He wore earrings and painted his toenails black. He practiced skydiving and vacationed in Iceland.
Fit in? Montgomery didn't try.
"I don't think of myself as a football player," he once told Sports Illustrated. "I just try to improve the field position for the guys who play the game."
That he did. A two-time Pro Bowl pick, Montgomery spent his final two seasons in Baltimore (1996 and 1997), averaging 43.2 yards a punt. Forty-seven times, his kicks pinned Ravens opponents inside their 20-yard line.
A decade later, Montgomery's life has taken an odd bounce. The man who, as a Raven, had his navel pierced is now a mortgage banker in Detroit.
Montgomery has gone from cut-up to button-down.
He carries a briefcase. He wears crisp white shirts and Armani boots.
"Sometimes I throw in a tie," he said, almost apologetically. "It's stylish, though. Not one of those cookie-cutter ties."
At 42, Montgomery admits he has come of age.
"It's all about growing up," he said. "Some of us take a little longer to grow up than others."
He kept some vestiges of the past, like his sideburns and goatee. But Montgomery's hair is now its natural brown and his toenails are paint-free.
"I'm at the point where I don't feel the need to prove I'm an against-the-grain type of guy," he said. "I'm more of a company guy now."
He kept the tattoos. "The Grateful Dead" is emblazoned on his right arm beneath the businessman's attire.
"The suits hide a bit of my history," he said. "But all of this is a part of me - the growing process, the [new-found] wisdom and reaching a point where I have inner peace."
While a Raven, Montgomery was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an illness that he said he controls with medication and a healthy diet.
At 6 feet 4 and 245 pounds, he has gained 30 pounds from his playing weight. But his sole physical ailment stems from his desk job, not his NFL career.
"I'm on the phone so much that I've got problems with my neck," Montgomery said. "Every so often, I have to get a massage."
• With the Ravens: 1996 and 1997.
• Other teams: Houston Oilers, 1988 to 1993; Detroit Lions, 1994.
• Current job: Executive mortgage banker with Perfect Mortgage in Detroit.
• Career statistics: 524 punts for 43.6-yard average. Led NFL in punting average three times. All-Pro first team in 1993.
• Fun fact: He kept a framed photograph of his painted toenails in the living room of his Baltimore apartment.
• College: Michigan State, where he was named to the All-America team and set the single-season Big Ten record with a 49.7-yard punting average in conference games.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun