TEMPE, AZ – JANUARY 9: Dennis Green is seen at a media conference after being hired by the Arizona Cardinals at the Cardinals training camp January 9, 2004 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Gary Williams/Getty Images)

The football world is mourning the loss of former Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green. Green, who also coached at Northwestern and Stanford among many other places during his 40-year career, passed away early Friday morning following complications from an episode of cardiac arrest. Green was 67 years old.

While most known for his time as a head coach of the Minnesota Vikings (1992-2001) and the Arizona Cardinals (2004-2006), Green made plenty of stops during his long coaching career. It all began in 1971 as a running backs and wide receivers coach for Dayton. He spent time at his alma mater, Iowa, coaching running backs from 1974 through 1976, before moving out west to coach the running backs at Stanford under the legendary Bill Walsh. Green followed Walsh to the NFL and served on his staff with the San Francisco 49ers. After one year as a special teams coach, he went back to Stanford to take on the role of offensive coordinator for the Cardinal, where he called the shots for an offense led by a young John Elway.

After one year with Elway and the Cardinal, Green took on his first head coaching job, and it was one few would pursue. In 1981, Green took on the role of head coach at Northwestern, a program that had gone 3-51 in the four seasons prior to his arrival. Success at Northwestern did not come easily, and Green never did have a winning season with the Wildcats, although his efforts did not go unnoticed. Green was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1982. He would later return to the 49ers for another dip in the NFL as an assistant coach and back to Stanford to be the head coach in 1989.

After three years in Palo Alto, it was off to the Minnesota Vikings where Green became a fixture in the NFC Central and would eventually lead the Vikings to a 15-1 season in 1998. While there were plenty of high moments for Green with the Vikings, the chance to play for a Super Bowl always seemed to elude them, as was the case in that 1998 season when the Atlanta Falcons stunned Minnesota, who was loaded with rookie Randy Moss, a revived Randall Cunningham and trusty staples in Robert Smith and Cris Carter.

Green established quite the coaching career over the years, but perhaps the moment that will continue to live on for years to come comes from his postgame press conference following a loss to the Chicago Bears in 2006. Green was an analyst for ESPN for two years after being bought out by the Vikings when he accepted a position as  head coach of the Cardinals in 2004. Under Green, the Cardinals showed signs of improvement on the field but an optimistic 2006 season turned sour down the stretch.

In mid-October, the Cardinals were defeated by the Bears on Monday Night Football, 24-23. Following the loss, Green addressed the media in his postgame press conference. He was asked about his team’s performance on defense, which forced six turnovers in the game, without being able to capitalize on the extra opportunities on offense. The rest, as they say, is history and will be preserved on YouTube so long as the internet exists.

Rest in peace, Dennis Green. He was who we thought he was.

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to NBCSports.com. Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.

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