Dennis Green, former head coach of the Vikings and Cardinals, has died at the age of 67.
Green became head coach of the Vikings in 1992, instantly leading the team to a playoff berth. In 1998, he coached the team to one of the best offensive performances in league history. The team finished 15-1 and lost to the Falcons at home in overtime of the NFC championship game. Green and the Vikings returned to the NFC title game in 2000.
In all, the Vikings qualified for the playoffs eight times in his 11 seasons with the team — 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native served as head coach at Stanford before becoming the Vikings coach. He worked under Bill Walsh at the 49ers before taking over at Stanford.
Green coached the Arizona Cardinals from 2004 through 2006. His final year was the most memorable; the team opened a new stadium and a disappointing Monday night loss to the Bears sparked one of the great post-game press conferences in league history.
Far more memorable for Vikings fans will be Green’s no-hesitation decision to pounce on receiver Randy Moss after the controversial wideout slipped through the first 20 picks of the 1998 draft. The addition of Moss (coupled with an unexpected resurgence in the career of Randall Cunningham) helped the Vikings put together one of the best regular-season performances the NFL has ever seen.
Far more memorable for football fans generally will be Green’s ascension to a head coaching job at a time when hardly any African-American candidates were considered much less hired for those positions. He hired new Hall of Famer Tony Dungy to serve as the team’s defensive coordinator in 1992. In 1996, Dungy became the head coach of the Buccaneers.