Dennis Green, one of the first African-American coaches in college and professional football, died Thursday at the age of 67, ESPN reports. As coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Green helped the NFL team earn eight playoff spots in 10 years. He also helmed the Arizona Cardinals for two years, serving 17 years overall as an NFL coach, CBS News reports. "Dennis passed away last night from complications of cardiac arrest," a Green family statement announced. "His family was by his side and he fought hard."
Green gained a bit of notoriety for a post-game rant after his Cardinals lost a 20-point lead against the Chicago Bears in 2006, per Fox News. But Green was beloved by those who worked under him, with the Vikings mentioning in a statement not only his "transformative" tenure as an African-American coach, but also the mentoring and "father figure" role he took on for "countless players." "Rest in peace Denny. I lost my mother in April, I feel like I just lost father," Robert Smith, who was a Vikings running back under Green, posted on Twitter. (Read more obituary stories.)