Dennis Green has passed away at 67 years old, after suffering a heart attack, according to news reports. The news will hit NFL fans hard, since the sports world is losing one of the more charismatic coaches to ever grace an NFL sideline.
In his various head coaching stops over the years -- college jobs at Stanford and Northwestern, and then NFL gigs with the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals -- Green was always good for nothing if not a smart quote, and a reliable laugh from media and fans. Despite his passionate approach to the game, his presence always reminded us that sports are meant to be entertaining.
As we remember Green's life, we begin with his services as a reliable quote machine. Here are four of the best one-liners the coach delivered in his long, memorable career.
"They are who we thought they were!"
The ultimate Dennis Green quote, and one that gets referenced seemingly every week in the NFL. Green's famous postgame outburst came in 2006, after a regular-season loss to the undefeated Chicago Bears. In that game, the 1-4 Cardinals jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead on Monday Night Football, in what was viewed as a possible season-saving win.
But lo and behold, the Cards couldn't weather the pressure of a big lead. Chicago began its comeback in the third quarter, and rallied to win a gutsy 24-23 win in a game now known as the "Monday Night Miracle."
Afterward, Green was furious. His anger manifested in one of the greatest profanity-laced postgame rants in NFL history:
Of course, having seen Green's rant, nobody is sad Arizona blew the game.
"There is no such thing as a typical season, not for the Cardinals, not for San Diego, not for Minnesota."
His tenure with the Cardinals was a particularly quotable stretch of time for Green, owing in large measure to his team's repeated shortcomings on the field. In 2005, after an 0-2 start drew the ire of fans and critics who had already labeled it a "typical" season for the Cardinals, Green came out swining.
"It seems like too many people, whether the fans or the media, all of a sudden think this is a typical season," said Green. "There is no such thing as a typical season, not for the Cardinals, not for San Diego, not for Minnesota."
True as that may be, the season did play out in a fashion familiar to Cardinals faithful: Green's team went 5-11 and missed the playoffs.
"Everybody knows I'm impatient. I don't have to apologize for it. I'm too old for that."
Green was 56 years old when he said this line back in 2005. At the time, he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, and working hard to try and develop Josh McCown into a starting-caliber quarterback. McCown had started 13 games during the 2004 season and was seen as the potential QB of the future for the franchise.
But the process of developing McCown was filled with peaks and valleys: Even under the tutelage of former NFL MVP Kurt Warner, McCown would follow up a stellar performance one week with a laid egg the next.
Green was vocal that McCown would be the team's starting quarterback if he proved he could handle the job. But it didn't work out that way: McCown started six games that season, but ultimately lost the starting gig to Warner. The next season, McCown was riding pine for Detroit, but that didn't help out Green: after two straight 5-11 seasons, the Cardinals let him go.
"The secret to success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching."
If there's a gift Green could offer the world in the form of a kernel of wisdom, this is it. You can find it on inspirational posters and online quote libraries, but all you need to know is what it says about Green's lasting football legacy. He was a fighter, a hard worker, and a passionate man whose exuberance was infectious.
Even though he never led any of his teams to the greatest ultimate prize, Green is remembered warmly everywhere he's been. Sometimes, that's just as good as being known as a winner.