Former Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green will be inducted into the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor in 2018, the club announced Monday. His Ring of Honor induction will take place during a halftime ceremony at the Vikings game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, September 23, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf, Owner/President Mark Wilf and Owner/Vice Chairman Lenny Wilf, along with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, informed Marie Green, the spouse of the late Dennis Green, of the honor at the team’s headquarters on Friday, June 15.
“Dennis Green’s impact on the Minnesota Vikings, and really the entire NFL, is still felt to this day,” said Mark Wilf in a press statement. “In addition to being widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top coaches, Denny was also known as a great mentor and leader by all who had the fortune of being in his presence.”
“It’s long overdue,” said sports columnist and good friend of Dennis Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., of the announcement. “I’m grateful for our incredible, unique relationship.”
Dennis Green was just the second Black head coach in NFL history. He was also one of the most influential figures in the history of the Vikings franchise — he was named the fifth head coach of the Minnesota Vikings on January 10, 1992, a post he held through 2002.
He coached 171 total games in 10 seasons with the Vikings, leading the team to four Central Division titles, the NFC Championship game twice, and a 101-70-0 (.591) overall record, giving him the second-most wins in franchise history behind only Bud Grant (168).
“He reached the playoffs eight times in 10 years,” recalled Fitzgerald, who also noted Dennis Green’s sometimes rocky relationship with the press. “It was a real battle weekly overcoming the critics whose sole purpose was to manipulate and distort the truth, and damage Green’s integrity and success with the Vikings fans,” he said.
A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native, Dennis Green was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1992 by the Washington Touchdown Club and in 1998 by Sports Illustrated and the Maxwell Club. As an advocate of community involvement, he initiated Community Tuesdays, which had players active in the Twin Cities on their day off, a concept that spread throughout the entire NFL.
Dennis Green also had a hand in helping to launch the careers of some of the NFL’s brightest stars. “He gave me a chance,” said Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss in an ESPN interview after Green’s July 16, 2016 passing. “There was a lot of teams that passed on me for wrong reasons. Coach Green gave me that opportunity.”
“Green hired my sons Larry, Jr. and Marcus as ball boys and later drafted Larry, Jr. in 2004 in the first round as Arizona’s head coach,” said Fitzgerald, Sr., on the start of All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.’s NFL career.
Fitzgerald, Sr. also credited Green with assisting his career as a sports columnist. “He saved my career; I’m proud of what we achieved together,” said Fitzgerald on the projects he and Green collaborated on. “His success allowed me to build the syndicate, the National Programming Network, by hosting and producing his weekly radio shows. Win or lose, it was exciting and we did great radio and Space150.com, DennisGreen.com; it was thrilling.”
Green is the lone inductee in 2018 after the team inducted two wide receivers — Moss and Ahmad Rashad — in 2017. The addition of Green will bring the Vikings Ring of Honor to 24 members.
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Paige Elliott is the digital editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.