Plenty of people have heaped plenty of praise on Dennis Green, the former Vikings and Cardinals coach who died three days ago at the age of 67. One Hall of Famer who played for Green admits that, without Green, the gold jacket and bronze bust never would have been issued.
“No, absolutely not,” receiver Cris Carter told PFT Live on Monday regarding whether he would have made it to the Hall of Fame without Green. “I mean, he made me the focal point of the offense. He challenged me in ways no one ever challenged me as a man. He challenged me every game. I mean his pregame speech was, ‘Football’s a team game but it’s individual battles and in those individual battles I need you to whoop your man.’ He would just single me out, be like, ‘Chris Carter, are you gonna whoop your man?’ and I was like, ‘Yes sir.’
“‘They’re gonna double team you probably sixty to seventy percent of the time, are you gonna whoop your man?’ and I’d be like, ‘Yes, sir,'” Carter added.
“We had a roll call and Denny would go down through the locker room and ask them, ‘Johnny Randle are you gonna whoop your man?’ and then he typically would finish [with], ‘Don’t worry, I’m gonna whoop the other coach.'”
Part of whooping the other coach was having a keen eye for talent and the ability to get the most out of that talent. When it comes to the many quarterbacks who thrived under Green, Cris Carter had very strong comments about a guy who started only 10 games during Green’s 10-year career as head coach.
“He did an unbelievable job with Jeff George,” Carter said. “Man, I wish we could’ve played more with Jeff George because his story would be totally different. The vibe that he had with Denny and the relationship he had with the other players, where he didn’t have to be a leader. . . . Jeff George was truly an amazing talent and, man, we had no problems, no issues with Jeff George. Loved him in the locker room and got great results from him on the field.”
George left the Vikings after only one season, joining Washington as a free agent. After a failed attempt to woo Dan Marino to Minnesota, Green opted to go with Daunte Culpepper, a 1999 first-round pick who carried the Vikings to the NFC title game in 2000, a season overshadowed by a 41-0 embarrassment against the Giants.