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Vikings Give Green An Extension

The Minnesota Vikings extended coach Dennis Green's contract Wednesday through 2004, adding three more seasons to his current contract.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"I'm very excited," said Green, who joined the Vikings in 1992. "I've enjoyed my nine years working here. (Owner) Red McCombs and I have a great working relationship. Red has shown everyone that whole idea of purple pride."

If he makes it to 2004, it would be Green's 13th season.

"I'm young. I'm 51 years old. I don't look at this as my twilight. I'm a career coach."

McCombs said he is "convinced that Dennis is the best football man in the NFL. I say this because of his great skills as a coach and an administrator."

Green has taken the Vikings to the playoffs seven times in his eight-year tenure, but he's won just three of 10 postseason games.

He was the first black coach in the Big Ten when Northwestern hired him in 1981, and he was only the second black coach in modern NFL history when the Vikings hired him. Before coming to the Vikings, Green was head coach at Stanford from 1989-91, and an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers from 1986-88.

Green's job has been at risk before, and was thought this season to be tied to the success of second-year quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Green was heavily criticized for drafting Culpepper in 1999 in the face of defensive needs, especially when defensive end Jevon Kearse, who was taken later in that draft, helped lead Tennessee to the Super Bowl.

Culpepper has struggled as a passer but has been a surprising weapon as a runner, and the team is off to a 3-0 start.

"He drafted me, and had faith in me. It feels good to have good things happen to good people," Culpepper said. "I think the guys are going to be fired up. Everyone loves Coach Green and wants him to succeed."

Green also survived a rocky time in 1997 when he angered the Vikings' 10-man ownership group before the team was sold to McCombs with publication of an autobiography that threatened to sue for controlling interest in the team unless two owners agreed to sell him their shares.

Star receiver Randy Moss had said recently he'd be more inclined to re-sign if the team kept Green. Moss repeated that on Wednesday after learning of the extension.

"If they had gotten rid of Denny, that would mean they want to turn this whole team around. How much turning can you do?"

He added, "Even though Coach Green doesn't play on Sunday, I look beyond that. Denny plays a big role in keeping these guys straight. I think it's important that he be here. The love we have for Denny is tremendous. I don't think everyone looks at him as a head coach, but as a friend."

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