Dennis Green passed away Friday from cardiac arrest, Adam Schefter has reported. He was 67.
Green was an NFL mainstay throughout the 1990's and 2000's, but began his coaching career handling wide receivers and running backs at Dayton in 1971. From there he returned to Iowa, his alma mater, then left to coach running backs at Stanford before accepting his first NFL coaching job, coordinating special teams for the San Francisco 49ers in 1979. He left a year later to become Stanford's offensive coordinator, then parlayed that into a five-year run as head coach at Northwestern.
Green returned to the Niners again in 1986, this time as wide receivers coach, then crossed the Bay again to coach at Stanford for a third time, this time as head coach, from 1989-91. Success there -- he lifted the Cardinal from 3-8 his first season to 8-4 two years later -- led Green to become the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 1992. Green stayed 10 seasons in Minnesota and took the Vikings to the playoffs in eight of his first nine. His 1998 club finished 15-1 in the regular season and reached the NFC Championship, which at that time was the furthest a black head coach had ever taken a team in the NFL. Green's Vikings returned to the NFC title game again in 2000. Green also gave Tony Dungy his first NFL coordinating job in Minnesota; a decade and a half later, Dungy would become the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl.
He took two years off after Minnesota, before taking over the Arizona Cardinals in 2004. Green's last coaching job came as head coach of the United Football League's Sacramento Mountain Lions from 2009-11.
It was in Arizona when, on one of the most frustrating nights of his professional career, his Cardinals blew a 20-point lead on Monday Night Football to the undefeated Chicago Bears and the soft-spoken Green joined the NFL's Viral Hall of Fame.
Rest in peace, Denny.