For a certain generation of NFL fans, Dennis Green is known for his stint as Arizona Cardinals head coach, and in particular his memorable postgame rant after a Monday night loss to the Chicago Bears in 2006.
But Green, who died in 2016 at age 67, was much more than that, especially during his time with the Minnesota Vikings, and the team announced on Monday it will honor Green this season.
Green to be placed in Vikings’ Ring of Fame
Green will be the 24th member of the Vikings’ Ring of Fame, which will happen during a ceremony at halftime of the team’s home game against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 23.
In a decade as Minnesota’s head coach, from 1992-2001, Green had a record of 97-62 (.610), and the Vikings went to the playoffs eight times. The only year the team went under .500 with Green at the helm was his final one.
In 1998, Minnesota was 15-1, at the time just the third team to win 15 games in a season; it also scored a then-record 556 points. The Vikings were of course considered the favorite for the Super Bowl when the postseason began, but they suffered a heartbreaking NFC championship loss.
“Dennis Green’s impact on the Minnesota Vikings, and really the entire NFL, is still felt to this day,” said Vikings president Mark Wilf in a statement. “In addition to being widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top coaches, Denny was also known as a great mentor and leader by all who had the fortune of being in his presence. We’re extremely honored to forever memorialize Denny and his family in the Vikings Ring of Honor and we’re looking forward to the induction in September.”
‘It’s nice to know he’s so beloved’
The Vikings surprised Green’s widow, Marie, and one of his children, Patti, with the news. In video the team posted, Marie immediately began to cry and said, “Wow!”
A beaming Patti said, “It’s nice to know he’s so beloved after all these years here. It’s awesome.”
“I’m so honored for my husband; obviously this is an honor that is well deserved. I just wish he was here to accept it himself,” Marie said. “I had hoped that someday this would happen, and of course, this is the 20th anniversary of his most successful season, being 15-1, so in my mind it made sense. I’m just so glad that the Vikings agreed. …
“I think that he would be very humbled and he’d be extremely proud of how the franchise has progressed with an amazing facility like this, and I think he’d be really honored and very proud to be in the ring of honor.”
When he was named the fifth head coach in Vikings history on Jan. 10, 1992, Green became just the second black head coach in the NFL’s modern era (Art Shell with the Raiders was the first); in 1981, when he was named head coach at Northwestern, he was the first black head coach of a power conference football program.
Green had an eye for assistants too: among those to coach under him were Brian Billick, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell and Tyrone Willingham. Billick, the offensive coordinator of that ’98 squad, became Ravens head coach after that season and led the team to a Super Bowl win in 2000; Dungy was the first black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl win, with the Colts in 2006.
Green also began Community Tuesdays with the Vikings, getting players to participate in community and charity events on their day off in-season, a notion that has since spread throughout the NFL.
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