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Randy Moss' Favorite Memory: Dennis Green's Beat Before Beating Packers

The deep threat needed a deep breath.

Randy Moss phoned in for an interview with ESPN on Friday afternoon to discuss the loss of a man who he had enjoyed a lot of wins with.

The first question from anchor Wendi Nix about Dennis Green's death at age 67 prompted an audible deep sigh.

Truthful pain without words for a moment to reflect before saying, "He gave me a chance."

"I remember him on draft day, calling me on the phone and asking me [if I was] ready to become a Viking. I told him, 'Yes.' Just hearing about him passing today and reading a lot of the comments and a lot of the positive things that people are saying, Denny Green was just that."

Green pushed for the Vikings to select Moss, a Heisman finalist the year before who was still on the board when Minnesota went on the clock at the 21st overall spot.

Moss became part of "Three Deep" with Cris Carter and Jake Reed. He set NFL rookie records with 69 catches for 1,313 yards and 17 TDs and helped the Vikings go 15-1 and break a 15-year-old scoring record.

"We had a team, and the one thing he taught us was to play to one beat," Moss said. "There's only one ball and we have to play to one beat. His legacy will live on, and my condolences to his family."

Moss told Nix that Green didn't believe in fining players, but he did believe in cutting them if he didn't think they were working hard enough or meeting expectations.

Moss said his "favorite Denny Green story" was from the locker room before the Vikings played the Packers on Monday Night Football during the 1998 season.

"I remember him saying throughout the week that he was going to unleash me," Moss recalled. "We were in the locker room and playing some beat on the lockers, and Coach Green started playing it. Everybody knows Coach Green likes to play the drums too, so Coach Green started playing the beat that we're playing in the locker room so everybody is geeked up, wound up, ready to go out there and destroy the Packers, and we just did what we set out to do."

Moss had 190 receiving yards and two touchdowns on five catches, to help the Vikings win 37-24 on the road.

"After the game, Coach asked me, 'Was that the biggest game I've had? I told him, 'Yeah,' and still to this day, one thing I keep saying in this interview is play to one beat, and that's what he taught us to do."

Other former players and peers stated the level of respect they had for Green: 

Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant

"Dennis was a big part of the Vikings tradition. We had some really great years under Dennis and some really successful teams. He should be remembered fondly by fans, and I'm sad to hear he is gone."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

"Dennis was a great Vikings coach, and there is a special bond between all of us who have coached the Vikings. I met Dennis several times and had to play against his teams many times, and it was always a tough challenge. My thoughts and the prayers of my family are with his family in their time of loss."

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman

"I always had the utmost respect for him not only as a coach and what he did on the field, but for what he stood for off the field."

Former Vikings Receiver Jake Reed

"I can honestly say, Denny Green was one of my favorite coaches. He coached his players hard but he also loved hard. Denny Green along with our other amazing coaches built that great '98 team that everyone still talks about. He was a man who loved his family and promoted the value of family time. I learned many life traits from Denny Green and appreciate him as a coach, husband and father. He led by example and was a true asset to our team. I will always remember Denny as a great leader of men. I am deeply saddened by the news. May he rest in peace."

Former Vikings Running Back Robert Smith

"Dennis and I had a unique relationship. I met him when he was coaching at Stanford and I was considering transferring from Ohio State, but eventually decided not to. Then he got the Vikings job and when the draft came around I had no idea they were interested or we're going to take me. I get the call from Denny and he said, 'I let you get away once, I'm not going to let it happen again.' When I got there, Denny was really a father figure to me. We got very close, we went fishing together, we both loved jazz, and he would show me things on his drums. I truly felt like I was playing for him and to justify the faith he had in me to take me. When I had the injuries early and missed time, I felt worse for the criticism Denny took for having picked me than anything. That's why to end my career healthy and making the Pro Bowl meant so much more.

"He was intense as a coach and always knew what to say to get the most out of players. And sometimes, that was to say nothing. He was a tremendous motivator.

"We stayed close, he came to my wedding 10 years ago, and it's just such a sad loss and way too soon."

Former Vikings Receiver Chris Walsh

"I was fortunate to play for Denny for 11 years, three years at Stanford and eight with the Vikings. I also coached for him with the Arizona Cardinals for one season. I really looked up to him as a leader and a man. Football was the venue he used to raise young men to become grown men. He was like a second father to me that I never wanted to disappoint. He was tough and he was fair. We worked hard and we had fun. He kept the game fun. I lost my father at the same age, 67, just a year a half ago. Today feels like I lost my other father. My thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to his family.

Former Vikings Tight End Jim Kleinsasser

"He drafted me as a small school player in the second round, so I've always had a great appreciation for him. I think every player knew exactly what was expected from them, and Coach Green stuck to those principles pretty consistently. I had a bit of a rough rookie year, and his support and calm reassurance still sticks with me today. It's very sad news to hear.

Former Vikings Center Matt Birk

"Professionally I'm grateful Coach Green took a chance on me in 1998. He had confidence in me as a football player before I did.

His record as a coach speaks for itself. He always told us his number one job as a head coach was to create a winning environment. He did that, and he kept it fun to come to work. 

He was a character who had a unique way of communicating. The wisdom of the "Dennyisms" will stick with me forever. Coach Green did it his way."

Hall of Fame Defensive End Chris Doleman

"Dennis was a history-making coach who put the team first. He was a mentor and friend to all he touched. He lit the fire to coach for many players, Jack Del Rio, Mike Tice, Greg Manusky, to name a few. He is one of a handful of coaches to have coached five Hall of Fame players on one team. We all owe a debt of gratitude. He will be missed."

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