PHOENIX — Former Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green died late Thursday due to complications from cardiac arrest. He was 67.
Green’s family confirmed the death early Friday morning, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
“Dennis passed away last night from complications of cardiac arrest,” Green’s family said in a statement sent over Twitter. “His family was by his side and he fought hard.”
This marks the second former Cardinals head coach to pass away this summer, following the death of Buddy Ryan in June.
“All of us at the Cardinals are incredibly saddened by the news of Dennis Green’s passing,” team president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “Coach Green will rightly be remembered as a true innovator, leader and pioneer among football coaches. We express our deepest sympathy to his family and his many friends.”
Current and former Cardinals players reacted to Green’s death on Twitter as the new broke.
Can’t believe this… I was gonna speak on him this coming Monday. I still will, thanks a lot coach??? pic.twitter.com/PuRCT58wfY
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) July 22, 2016
My heart goes out to family of my former coach Denny Green – we lost a good man way too soon!
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) July 22, 2016
RIP Dennis Green. #RestEasy
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) July 22, 2016
Green spent 13 years as a head coach in the National Football League. He was hired by the Cardinals in 2004 with a reputation as one of the best offensive minds in football. Unfortunately, his tenure with the team wouldn’t go as many might have hoped. He was fired in 2006 with a 16-32 overall record. One of his most remembered moments from that period was a rant after a 2006 loss to the Chicago Bears where Green yelled to reporters, “They are who we thought they were! And we let ‘em off the hook!”
However, Green did help lay the groundwork for the Cardinal’s Super Bowl team in 2008. During his first draft class in 2004, Green helped select Larry Fitzgerald with the third overall pick. Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby and Antonio Smith were each also taken in that draft.
Most of Green’s success as a head coach came before joining the Cardinals during 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Under Green, Minnesota made eight playoff appearances, reaching the NFC Championship in 1998 and 2000. He ranks second in Vikings franchise history in games coached, wins, and winning percentage.
Green was a trailblazer as a coach. His hiring at Northwestern in 1981 made him the first African-American head coach in the Big Ten and the second at the Division I-A level, and in 1989 at Stanford would become the first in the Pac-10. He would then go on to be the second African-American head coach in NFL history when the Vikings hired him in 1992.
Green’s firing from the Vikings in 2002 was one factor that would lead the NFL to adopt the Rooney Rule beginning in 2003, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who was an assistant under Green in Minnesota, acknowledged Green’s contributions in a tweet Friday.
Just got the news of the passing of Denny Green. He did so much for me. Was looking forward to saying thanks at HOF. Tomorrow not promised.
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) July 22, 2016
In addition to his contributions to the game of football, Green’s impact was also felt in the community. He was inducted into the Boys and Girls Club of America Hall of Fame in 1998 for his charitable work with the organization. While in Arizona, Green hosted the Dennis Green/Arizona Cardinals Charity Team Bass Fishing Tournament, with proceeds going to the Valley of the Sun Boys and Girls Clubs.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced for Green. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego.