Former NFL head coach Dennis Green, the Minnesota Vikings’ second-winningest coach in franchise history behind only Bud Grant, died last night from an apparent heart attack, his family confirmed today. He was 67 years old.
Green was an NFL head coach for 13 seasons – 10 with the Vikings from 1992 to 2001, and three with the Arizona Cardinals from 2004 to 2006.
He compiled a 113-94 record in the NFL in 13 seasons.
“We are incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of former Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green,” the Vikings said in a statement. “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.”
Green led Minnesota to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons. His 1998 team is considered, despite not appearing in the Super Bowl after losing to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, among the greatest teams and offenses in NFL history. Led by quarterback Randall Cunningham and featuring running back Robert Smith and receivers Cris Carter and rookie Randy Moss, the Vikings set a then-record for points in a single season with 556.
Prior to coaching in the NFL, Green was the head coach at two of the country’s most prestigious academic schools, Northwestern from 1981 to 1985 and Stanford from 189 to 1991.
“All of us at the Cardinals are incredibly saddened by the news of Dennis Green’s passing,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “Coach Green will right be remembered as a true innovator, leader and pioneer among football coaches. We express our deepest sympathy to his family and many friends.”