Hugh Green played college football for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, and was recognized as a consensus All-American on three occasions. In 1980, he won the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Award, the Lombardi Award, the TSN Player of the Year, and the UPI Player of the Year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft with the seventh overall pick.
In his rookie season, Green started all 16 games for the Bucs from the right outside linebacker position. Green was named to his first Pro Bowl In the strike shortened 1982 season. In 1983 Green was again named to the Pro Bowl roster. He intercepted two passes in that season, returning them both for touchdowns.
Green had collected 2.5 sacks after five games in the 1985 season when he was traded to the cross-state rival Miami Dolphins. He went on to make five more sacks, totalling a career high 7.5 despite the trade disruption.
Green's playing time was limited in 1986 and in 1987 to a total of 12 games due to injuries, one of them a mid season car accident.
in 1988, Green started all 16 games for the Dolphins. He had 2.5 sacks and recovered a fumble. The team finished last in the AFC East, going 6-10.
1989 would see the Dolphins go 8-8, as Green racked up a career high tying 7.5 sacks, again starting all 16 games.
The Dolphins went 12-4 in 1990, returning to the playoffs. Green started all 16 games for Miami and collected two sacks in a week six victory over the New England Patriots, 17-10.
Green retired after playing 11 games in 1991. Over six and a half Miami seasons, Green appeared in 82 games, making 22 sacks, five fumble recoveries and one interception.