Del Mar resident Dennis Green, a former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, has lived his life by a simple motto: “Plan your work and work your plan.” It has served him well. During the 1990s, he had the most successful coaching record in the National Football League (NFL) — and, in fact, he is one of the most successful coaches in the league’s history. Green also has the highest winning percentage in the Vikings’ 40-year history: The team’s 15-1 season in 1998 is the second best for most points in a season in NFL history.
Green grew up in the inner city of Harrisburg, Penn. He lost his parents early in life, as his mother and father died by the time he was 13. He became a star halfback with the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and graduated cum laude from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in recreation education. As a young man he participated in athlete black power anti-segregation and anti-prejudice stands.
Prior to coaching in the NFL, Green — as head coach — turned around the losing college football programs at Northwestern and Stanford universities. Throughout his career, he stayed committed to helping kids from the inner city. During every season, Green designated one day a week as “community day,” during which he and his players volunteered at churches, schools and local Boys & Girls Clubs. He has given generously of his time and money to many charities and community organizations.
Green is now the head coach and general manager of the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. Green also sits on the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito Board of Directors. Green has been honored by being inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs National Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Marie, are chairing the “Bright Futures Breakfast” on June 8 at 7:30 a.m. This complimentary breakfast at Harper Branch will spotlight the many ongoing efforts by the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito to serve local youth.
1. What brought you to this neighborhood?
My wife, Marie, and I were on vacation in L.A. 16 years ago and decided to drive down. We happened upon the L’Auberge and loved it. We decided it would be the location of our wedding and we never looked back.
- What makes this town special to you?
The people are nice and get along well, the weather is the best and it’s really an easy way of life here.
3. If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract, or improve in the area?
I would provide a job for everybody who wants and needs one.
4. Who or what inspires you?
My kids, Vanessa and Zachary, inspire me every day.
5. If you hosted a dinner party for 8, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
My wife, Marie, my deceased parents Bus and Anna Green, Paul Robeson, John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Bill Walsh.
6. Tell us about what you are currently reading.
A mystery set in the PGA Tour by Harlan Coben called “Back Spin.”
7. What is your most prized possession?
My National Hall of Fame Award from the Boys and Girls Club of America and my International Humanitarian Award: They symbolize where I came from and how important it is to always give back and inspire others to do the same.
8. What do you do for fun?
I love to go to the beach, golf, go fishing, and enjoy the San Diego sunsets.
9. Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
Starting my family, and continuing to love and care for them.
10. What is your motto or philosophy of life?
I have always felt it’s important to start every day with confidence and always hold your head high.