Dennis Green, one of the winningest NFL
coaches in the 1990s, signed a five-year contract Wednesday to
guide the struggling Arizona Cardinals, the Associated Press reported.
The Cardinals announced the hiring through e-mail, and neither vice president Michael Bidwill nor football operations vice president Rod Graves, the driving force to land Green, returned the Associated Press' calls to their offices and cell phones.
"He is a proven winner with an outstanding track record of success," owner Bill Bidwill said in a release.
The Cardinals plan to introduce Green on Friday at a news conference.
As reported by ESPN.com on Tuesday, Green and Cardinals officials met in San Diego for a follow-up interview after first meeting last Wednesday at the team's complex. A few hours later, after team officials returned to Phoenix to brief owner Bill Bidwill, the Cardinals made Green an offer.
Both parties were interested in striking a deal that would end Green's two-year absence from the league (he's been an ESPN studio analyst the last two years). Green has had the support, from the outset of the courtship, of Arizona's vice president of football operations Rod Graves. He then gained favor with vice president Michael Bidwill, the owner's son.
"Denny really believes he can get that thing [in Arizona] turned around," said a source close to the deal. "If he can get himself a quarterback, and they'll be in position to draft somebody like [Eli] Manning, they could win in a couple years."
It is believed Green will have considerable control over football operations. Green also was interviewed by the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, but the Redskins and Joe Gibbs have an agreement and sources close to Green said Tuesday night he believes the Raiders situation could be "treacherous," even given the coach's long and close relationship with owner Al Davis.
"The attraction of Arizona for Denny is that the Cardinals'
organization has had trouble winning and now a lot of people don't
expect them to start winning," said Gary O'Hagan, Green's agent
told the Associated Press late Wednesday. "That creates a lot of
upside, an opportunity for success."
O'Hagan said the team's new stadium in Glendale, Ariz., adjacent to
the Phoenix Coyotes' new ice arena, was one of the strong points of
the job. The roofed football stadium is scheduled to open for the
2006 season and will host the 2008 Super Bowl.
"They need to have a winning team because they need to sell
tickets," O'Hagan said. "Dennis is a proven winner and that's
what the Cardinals need."
The Cardinals have had one winning season since 1984, one
playoff appearance since 1982 and one playoff victory since winning
the NFL title in 1947 as the Chicago Cardinals. Coach Dave McGinnis
was fired after Arizona finished 4-12 last season, one of four
teams with that league-worst record.
Other candidates for the Arizona job were former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, a one-time Cardinals offensive coordinator, and current NFL defensive coordinators Jim Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles and Romeo Crennel of the New England Patriots.
Sources said that, during Tuesday's interview with Green, the Cardinals asked him what they called "tough questions," including queries about past off-field incidents. Green is said to have been candid and, for the second time, very impressive in expressing to officials his on-field and personnel philosophies.
Green was 101-70 during his 10 seasons with the Vikings and went to the playoffs eight times.
Green becomes the fourth black head coach in the NFL, the most
the league has had at any one time. The other three are Herman
Edwards of the Jets, Marvin Lewis of the Bengals and Tony Dungy of
The hiring filled the third of seven coaching vacancies, all
taken by former NFL head coaches. Tom Coughlin agreed to coach the
Giants on Tuesday and Joe Gibbs ended an 11-year retirement
Wednesday to return to Washington.
Still to be filled are vacancies in Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago
Information from ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton, and the Associated Press was used in this report.