this Dec. 1, 1996 photo, Minnesota Vikings coach
Dennis Green is shown on the sideline during an NFL
game against the Arizona Cardinals in Minneapolis.
Green, a trailblazing coach who led a Vikings
renaissance in the 1990s and also coached the
Arizona Cardinals, has died. He was 67. Greenís
family posted a message on the Cardinals website on
Friday, July 22, 2016, announcing the death.
ó Dennis Green, the trailblazing coach who led a
Minnesota Vikings renaissance in the 1990s before a less
successful run with the Arizona Cardinals, has died. He
family posted a message Friday on the Cardinals website'
announcing the death.
family was by his side and he fought hard," the
statement said. It did not disclose other details, though
the Cardinals said Green had died of a heart attack.
the first black head coach in Big Ten history when he took
over at Northwestern in 1981 and was just the third black
head coach in the NFL when the Vikings hired him in 1992.
Through it all, Green worked hard to provide opportunities
for minorities on his coaching staffs and was beloved by
his players for the loyalty he showed them.
was one of the forerunners, standard bearers from an
African-American standpoint," Vikings COO Kevin
Warren said. "He was there early and won a lot of
football games. He not only got in that position as a head
coach, he then hired people and gave them
spent 10 seasons in Minnesota, leading the Vikings to
eight playoff appearances and two NFC championship games.
He had only one losing season and compiled an overall
record of 97-62, a mark second only to Bud Grant in
franchise history. That included a 15-1 regular season in
1998 spearheaded by a record-setting offense.
were pretty good when he was here," current Vikings
coach Mike Zimmer said. "I'm just trying to get close
went out on a limb in the draft before that season, taking
Randy Moss at No. 21 after the super-talented receiver
fell due to character concerns. Moss was a sensation from
the start, teaming with Cris Carter, Jake Reed, Randall
Cunningham and Robert Smith to give the Vikings the most
dynamic and explosive offense the league had ever seen.
The Vikings scored a record 556 points that season, a mark
that stood until New England broke it in 2007.
Vikings were upset at home by the Atlanta Falcons that
season and also were embarrassed by the New York Giants
41-0 in their other trip to the NFC title game after the
went 4-8 in the postseason, one of the reasons he was
fired by Minnesota late in the 2001 season.
made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding
football coach," the Vikings said. "He mentored
countless players and served as a father figure for the
men he coached. Denny founded the Vikings Community
Tuesday Program, a critical initiative that is now
implemented across the entire NFL. He took great pride in
helping assistant coaches advance their careers. His
tenure as one of the first African American head coaches
in both college and the NFL was also transformative. Our
thoughts and prayers are with the entire Green
tweeted: "Rest in peace Denny. I lost my mother in
April, I feel like I just lost father."
leadership was never needed more than during training camp
in 2001 when offensive tackle Korey Stringer collapsed and
died from heat illness, but his tenure in Minnesota also
was marked by controversy.
a book in 1997 entitled "No Room for Crybabies"
in which he threatened to sue the ownership group if he
didn't obtain an ownership stake. And at the end of the
2001 season, he was ousted with one game left in the
season after losing a power struggle with owner Red
finished his three years in Arizona with a 16-32 record.
Perhaps his biggest accomplishment with the Cardinals was
overseeing the drafting of Larry Fitzgerald as the No. 3
overall pick in 2004. Fitzgerald was a ball boy for
course, many remember Green's final season in Arizona in
2006 for a Monday night loss to Chicago, when the Bears
returned two late fumbles and a punt for touchdowns to
rally from a 20-point deficit. Afterward, in one of the
more memorable postgame rants by an NFL coach, Green
pounded the podium and yelled, "The Bears are who we
thought they were!" afterward, a line that would be
replayed endlessly over the years.
well known for his "Denny-isms," unique phrases
like "Plan your work and work your plan," which
he would often say during practice.
still use that 'Denny-ism' today," Raiders coach Jack
Del Rio said. "Coach Green is going to be missed
dearly by everyone that was lucky enough to know
also an avid drummer, and Moss said on ESPN's "NFL
Live" that "we had a team and one thing he
taught us was to play to one beat. His legacy will live
17, 1949, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Green once said he
was struck by watching early Big Ten football games and
seeing both Minnesota and Iowa putting together successful
seasons behind black quarterbacks. Green enrolled at Iowa,
too, and played running back for the Hawkeyes from
1968-70. He played for the BC Lions in Canada in 1971
before returning to coach in college, beginning at Dayton
in 1973 and gradually climbing to bigger programs. Green
was also a head coach at Stanford and served as an
assistant to Bill Walsh on the dominant 49ers teams of the
of us at the Cardinals are incredibly saddened by the news
of Dennis Green's passing," Cardinals President
Michael Bidwell said. "Coach Green will rightly be
remembered as a true innovator, leader and pioneer among
football coaches. We express our deepest sympathy to his
family and his many friends."
family asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be
made to the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego.
did so much for me," tweeted former coach Tony Dungy,
who was a defensive coordinator under Green with the
Vikings. "Was looking forward to saying thanks at HOF.
Tomorrow not promised."