Not Easy Being Green
Until last week the Minnesota Vikings' Dennis Green had been considered in most quarters a competent and intelligent coach, albeit one whose postseason failures had kept him from ranking among the NFL's elite. But then bits and pieces of his book, No Room for Crybabies, which was released early this week, revealed another side of him: the Mad Bomber of Minnesota.
As of Monday afternoon Green was backing away from the venomous attack on Vikings ownership that makes up the final 10 pages of his book. Everything about those final pages is strange. His plan to stage a hostile takeover of 30% of Vikings stock, which would make him the principal owner, is strange. His threat that he will sue two owners with whom he's had a stormy relationship unless they sell him their 10% shares of the club for $12.6 million apiece is strange. His subsequent characterization of the controversial 10 pages as "a business proposal and not a personal attack" is strange. His timing in releasing a contentious book in the middle of a successful season (the Vikes are 6-2) is strange. And Green's professed shock that his literary offensive became such a hot topic (at one point he described his plan as merely "thinking out loud") is strange.
As of Monday it appeared that Green may have had an ally in the admittedly perplexed person of Vikings president and CEO Roger Headrick. Headrick, who is also on Minnesota's board of directors, is angry that Green wrote the book but believes the coach will not be fired before the end of the year. If Green's job is in jeopardy after the season, Headrick believes he can save it. "I've prevailed before with the board," said Headrick, "and I think I can prevail again."
Headrick has a tough job ahead of him because a couple of owners have already weighed in against Green. Said board vice chairman Philip Maas, who, like the rest of the board's members, owns approximately 10% of the team, "My personal opinion is that he [Green] has shot himself in the foot. I know if one of my employees [in his main business, a truck dealership] did that, he'd be gone."
One wonders if Green even wants an ally. His conflicts with the board, particularly with members Jaye Dyer and Wheelock Whitney, have been public knowledge since the two approached then Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz last autumn to gauge Holtz's interest in Green's job. One theory is that Green released the book precisely because he wants to get fired. That would free him to seek a general manager-coach's position somewhere else a season before his Vikings contract runs out.
But it seems unlikely that owners would line up to hire a guy who writes bad things about his bosses and threatens to sue them. Whether or not Headrick can save Green's job, it remains to be seen if the coach's prose will poison the Vikings' season.
The Same, Only Different
According to a report in last Sunday's New York Post, the Mets are considering a plan to tear down Shea Stadium and build a "replica" of Ebbets Field, which will include, among other features, a three-section retractable roof, luxury boxes and a parking garage.
The NBA has endured its share of labor unrest in recent years, including two brief lockouts during the summer months of 1995 and '96, but has always found a way to settle its conflicts before the season tipped off in November. After league commissioner David Stern all but conceded during the September NBA meetings that the owners intend to exercise their option to reopen the current collective bargaining agreement next April, however, those two loathsome labor words—lockout and decertification—are again making stomachs churn around the league.