Dennis Green, a familiar face on NFL sidelines, died after a heart attack on Thursday.
“Dennis passed away last night from complications of cardiac arrest,” the former football coach’s family informed in a Friday statement. “His family was by his side and he fought hard.”
Green posted a 113-94 record as head coach for the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals over 13 NFL seasons. He took the Vikings to the postseason eight times over ten seasons. He registered just one losing season in Minnesota. But he fared poorly in the playoffs, going 4-8 and falling to a pedestrian Atlanta Falcons team in the NFC Championship Game after leading the Vikings to a 15-1 record and numerous NFL offensive records during the 1998 season. The Vikings also lost an NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants under Green after the 2000 season.
The Vikings released this statement:
We are incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of former Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green. Denny made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding football coach. 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 family.
A disciple of Bill Walsh, Green coached at Stanford, Northwestern, and the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He instilled the motto “Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan” into his players. But fans remember him for another catchphrase.
“The Bears are who we thought they were,” Green angrily said after his Cardinals blew a 20-point lead on Monday Night Football in 2006. “That’s why we took the damn field. If you want to crown them, then crown their ass. But they are who we thought they were. And we let them off the hook.”
Green died at 67. But he, or at least a more fiery version of the normally soft-spoken man, lives forever on YouTube.