The interview went like I thought it would. I just talked to Dennis Green, former NFL coach, whose most famous line is now “We Are Who They Thought They Were.”
The line of course comes from the press conference Green held as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals after the team lost a 20-point lead against the Chicago Bears in a game in October 2006 (see clip below). The rant clearly ranks with Jim Mora’s “Playoffs” and Lee Elia’s dissing of Cubs fans as the best of all time.
Green is cashing in thanks to trademarking the phrase, selling items and for another year and having his lines in Coors Light commercials. Interesting side note before I run this thing. I noticed Green was also selling a "We Let Them Off The Hook" hat as part of his merchandise line. This was the last bit of the rant. Well, Coach Green, it turns out, has trademarked that phrase too.
Green: First of all, I have to say I watch CNBC every morning since I have to see where my money is going.
Darren: Thanks coach. Appreciate that endorsement, though I won’t pay you for that. Let’s get to business. Your outburst is going to be the thing that people will remember you by. When did you realize how catchy it was and how many times the media was running it?
Green: I obviously have many friends in the media and they were telling me how much run it was getting. I knew I had to be a good sport about it. I’ve been in this business for 33 years so it was pretty easy to roll with it. But I obviously said what I did because we were 1-5 and I thought we should have been 5-1 and I didn’t think they were as good or as bad as people thought they were.
Darren: So you’ve trademarked the phrase for use on everything from hats to jerseys to motivational public speaking services. How much potential is there?
Green: Well, I thought if anyone was going to capitalize on it, it should be me. You can go on DennisGreen.com right now and buy the caps. I’m pretty good with coming up with phrases like “There’s no room for crybabies,” which was the title of my book and I was one of the first guys to use the phrase “there’s a new sheriff in town” (We can’t possibly confirm this). So I called up my attorney and we got it approved pretty quickly. It was hard to dispute that anyone else came up with or used the phrase before I did. As far as making a lot of money off of it, I’ve have the Coors Light commercial, but I’m exploring how much more is out there. It’s not like I get money if someone says it in a movie. But I think it’s a good one and it’s not always negative. If a meeting was not what I thought it was – it could have been a terrible meeting or a good meeting.
Darren: Jim Mora has been in the Coors Light commercials with you--they’ve used his “Playoffs” line – and they’ll have a new one coming out tonight. You ever talk to Mora about trademarking “Playoffs?”
Green: Playoffs would be hard to trademark.
Darren: Yeah I guess so. Especially since it’s all in the inflection. I’m a big Northwestern football fan and you of course were the head coach from 1981-1985 (record: 10-45). Do you still follow them at all?
Green: I know they won last week so that was good. My time at Northwestern and Stanford were great for me because of the priorities of the school and the players. It proved that I understood life outside of football.