In a year where sports legends seem to be going at a record pace, the NFL has lost another talented mind. Dennis Green, formerly the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, has died. He was 67 years old.

The man known as “Denny” reportedly died of cardiac arrest in his home on Friday morning. Former agent Ray Anderson confirmed the death.

Big Impact

Green didn’t win Super Bowls during his time in the NFL, but he still had a big, lasting impact. In 13 seasons at the pro level, Green manned a highly successful Minnesota Vikings team that was even elite at times and made the playoffs in 8 of his 10 seasons in Minnesota.

Dennis Green is likely best known for the job he did in 1998, when the Vikings went a staggering 15-1 and scored (at the time) a record 556 points. Led by rookie sensation Randy Moss, a veteran Cris Carter, a resurrected Randall Cunningham and the ground game of Robert Smith, the Vikings were nearly perfect and looked destined for a title before bowing out to the New York Giants in that year’s NFC title game.

Smith reflected on Green’s passing with heavy sadness on Twitter, lamenting the loss of his mother in April and the loss of Green, who he looked at as a father:

Green’s NFL career can’t be captured by just one season, of course.

In addition to his impressive run in the NFL, Green was known for his animated personality at times, while few sports fans will forget his timeless quotes after his Arizona Cardinals blew a game against the Chicago Bears:

Trend Setter

As an African American and a bright offensive mind, Dennis Green left a lasting impact that is still felt in the league today. Not only did he spice things up on the offensive side of the football throughout his career, but he also helped pave the way for black head coaches in the league.

During his two head coaching tenures, African American head coaches were few and far between. Green’s stellar coaching and success at the NFL level only aided in helping the league see that color should never have anything to do with men being appointed jobs – specifically at the head coach spot.

Green did more than just set trends as a black man or offensive genius. He also continued his work beyond the field. Per NFLPA Vice President Troy Vincent, Green remained a key advisor and will be deeply missed. Few can argue that. RIP, Denny.

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