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.
Beginning on opening day of 1988, Green started 48 consecutive games for the Dolphins at his familiar right outside linebacker position, racking up 12 total sacks and shoring up the outside lanes against would be rushing threats. He played 11 games in 1991, retiring after the season.