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BEST PURGE Minneapolis 2000 -

After Dennis Green became the Minnesota Vikings head coach in 1992, the "new sheriff," as he called himself, quickly embarked on a wholesale housecleaning; within two years, all 11 assistant coaches who'd worked under his predecessor, Jerry Burns, were gone. In most businesses, a new manager would be pilloried for such ruthlessness. In pro football, such cutthroat efforts are invariably attributed to the quest for proper "chemistry." But when Green began handing out the pink slips after the 1999 season, another term came to mind: purge. After all, Green was dumping his own recruits, including first-year offensive coordinator Ray Sherman (who ran the league's third-ranked offense) and veteran defensive coordinator Foge Fazio. Scads of assistant coaches and players were handed their walking papers, too. We can only surmise that Green was looking for ways to diffuse the blame for an erratic and disappointing 1999--after all, this was supposed to be the year for the Vikes. But lo and behold, Green didn't live up to his reputation as either a top game-day coach or a personnel whiz. After yet another dismal loss in the playoffs, heads had to roll at Winter Park--and why in the world would the savvy Green stick his own neck in the guillotine?

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