The NFL world is in mourning this week after it was reported that Dennis Green, the head coach who led the Vikings to a consistent run of wins in the 1990s, passed away on Thursday. He was 67 years-old.
Green’s family posted a statement on the Arizona Cardinals’ website saying only that the football legend died of cardiac arrest, but they did not confirm where he died or where he lived. According to The New York Times, Green served as head coach for the Cardinals for three years before he was fired in 2006.
Born in 1949 in Pennsylvania, Green came from a poor background.
“We didn’t live in the projects,” he once told The Minneapolis Star Tribune, “but we lived where people who had just moved from the projects lived.”
Green was able to rise from poverty to play football at Iowa for three seasons as a halfback. He then began his coaching career at Dayton in 1973 before moving up the ladder to jobs at Iowa and Stanford. He got his big break with the NFL in 1979 when he started working with the San Francisco 49ers as a special team coach.
In 1981, Green got his first head coaching job with Northwestern, a team that never won more than three games in a season under his leadership.
“That’s where I learned to take my ego completely out of it,” Green said. “You weren’t going to a bowl game every year, and you weren’t going to win as many games as you liked. But you could graduate kids and leave every game with 100 percent pride.”
When Green became the head coach at Stanford, however, he had a lot more success, earning himself his first NFL head coaching job at Minnesota. Green stayed with Minnesota for ten seasons during which the team made the playoffs eight times and posting a stellar regular season record of 97-62. His best year came in 1998, when the team had a 15-1 season.
Unfortunately, the team later slumped to 5-10 in 2001, and Green was fired from his position. He got another chance to be a head coach when he took a job with the Cardinals in 2004, but he was later fired when he could not get them back on track.
Green is survived by his wife and their three children. Please pray for them during this difficult time!