NFL player, Filmmaker, Football Coach
Greg Ellis was an All American football player for the National Football League from 1998-2009. He had a distinguished career both on and off the football field.
Gregory Lemont Ellis was born on August 14, 1975 in Wendell, North Carolina. He attended East Wake High School in Wendell. At East Wake he excelled on the football field as a tight end and a defensive end. He was selected to play in the North Carolina East/West Shrine Game. He was also honored by the Greensboro News & Observer when they voted him the Male High School Athlete of the Year in 1993.
After graduation from high school, Greg enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He played for the Tar Heels from 1994 to 1997. He was “redshirted” his freshmen year as a back-up defensive end. During the 3 years he played college ball, he received many awards. As a sophomore he was named first-team All-ACC and honorable mention All-American by UPI. He even excelled as a member of the junior varsity basketball team that same year. During his junior year be was named second-team All-American by The Sporting News and first-team All-ACC. As a senior he was named to the first-team All-American, was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, and was an All-ACC selection for the third straight year. Ellis graduated from UNC with a degree in communications. In 2016 he still holds the distinction at UNC-CH as the school’s all-time sack leader.
Greg Ellis was drafted as the 8th pick in the first round of the NFL draft in 1998 by the Dallas Cowboys. From 1998 to 2006 he was a defensive end—half the time as a right end and the other half as a left end. In 2006 he was moved to outside linebacker. He played this position for 2 years. While at Dallas he totaled 77 quarterback sacks, 377 tackles, 20 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns. Ellis severely injured his Achilles tendon in 2006, but in the 2007 season he received the honors of the selection to play in the NFC Pro Bowl and being named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. In 2009 Dallas released Ellis from his contract.
In 2009 Ellis signed a 3-year contract valued at $10 million with the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the position of defensive end. He started in every game and had a good season; however, Oakland released him from his contract at the end of the year.
Never one to rest of his laurels, Greg Ellis’s next endeavor combined his experience on the football field and his knowledge from his communications degree from UNC to form Play Now Enterprises. This is a full service studio that produces photography, audio, and film. Ellis is the CEO of the organization.
Greg’s latest position is executive producer of a movie about high school football. The movie features the real life 1988 Dallas Carter High School football team. This team was racked with controversy about the behavior of their football players. There was allegation that the team members were involved in armed robberies and cheating in the classroom.
Ellis contacted Jesse Armstead, an NFL star that was a member of the 1988 Carter High School football team, to help with the technical as well as the emotional aspects of the team. The movie stars Vivica Fox, Charles S. Dutton, and David Banner. The Hollywood movie shows the power of a caring coach and a community coming together to save these young men: a film where hope replaces despair and victory triumphs over adversity. The movie had its grand opening in Dallas on October 27, 2015.
When asked about how he liked being a movie producer, Greg Ellis stated, “This is something I’d like to continue to do. It’s a lot of work, but I like to inspire and shock people. Movies can make a huge impact on their lives.”
Ellis returned to football in 2020 when he was hired as head coach at Texas College, in Tyler, Texas. The school’s 2020 football season was cancelled due to COVID-19 and the team went winless in 2021. Ellis left Texas College in March 2021 and was hired as head coach at conference opponent Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. The 2022 team finished 7-3, in fourth place in the Sooner Athletic Conference.