BEST GOLDEN PARACHUTE - 2002
Even Dennis Green's detractors (and there were many) must have felt a little bad about the way it all ended for the coach. After all, Green put up gaudy numbers during his decadelong tenure at Winter Park: playoffs in eight seasons, two NFC championship appearances, the second-best winning percentage in franchise history. His teams, though flawed, were almost always interesting to watch, capable of great offensive explosions. Then he has one lousy season and suddenly rumors of his imminent firing are running rampant. In a face-saving measure, Green abruptly resigned on the eve of the season finale. Who could blame him for wanting to beat crafty old Red to the punch? (McCombs, you may recall, made a big show of expressing confidence in Green a few weeks earlier--a sure sign, in retrospect, that the shiv was being sharpened.) Well, crummy as all that may have seemed at the time, you need not feel sorry for Denny Green. Why? How about 5.4 million reasons, to be doled out over the remainder of his contract. Not exactly a freefall.