The passing of Dennis Green has resulted in many notable NFL figures sharing some of their favorite stories about the former NFL coach. Green was part of the San Francisco 49ers coaching staffs in the 80s that sprouted a huge tree of head coaches. Naturally, some of those big names have great memories about Green.
ESPN’s Mike Sando had a chance to speak with Mike Holmgren, and the former Packers and Seahawks head coach had a great story about Green. I’ve embedded Sando’s Facebook post down below, but the general gist of the story is this: Dennis Green took over at Stanford late in the 49ers 1988 season. The 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl but there were big questions surrounding their future with Bill Walsh retiring after the game.
It turns out, Green offered Holmgren the offensive coordinator role at Stanford. With Walsh leaving, there were questions about the future. Holmgren mentioned that Jimmy Johnson was being mentioned as a potential candidate, which could lead to significant changes. Green told Holmgren he could wait and see what would happen with the 49ers before accepting the Stanford OC job.
This story tells us plenty about the kind of guy Green was, and the kind of relationship he built with Holmgren. As for the Jimmy Johnson mention, I did a google search and came across this LA Times article five days after the Super Bowl. It talked about Bill Walsh “winning a power struggle” to name his own successor. It also said that the New York Daily News reported Eddie DeBartolo wanted Johnson.
Imagine how much different things might have been if the 49ers had gone with Jimmy Johnson? So much history would be different.