"We held on for as long as we could, and I think we were still putting a good product out there, but there were just too many factors going against us," said FireDennisGreen CEO and founder Michael P. Tottingham. "I appreciate the hard work all of the FDG employees put in over the past 14 years."
Tottingham, who considers himself a casual Vikings fan, started FireDennisGreen.com in 1996 when the Vikings went 9-7 in Green's fifth year on the job.
"I heard people in the community talking about how he should be fired," said Tottingham, "and while I didn't agree or care too much, I realized it was a great business opportunity."
So Tottingham approached several venture capital firms for seed money, a very easy get at that time, and launched FireDennisGreen.com late in the '96 season with $95 million and 130 full-time employees. In addition to listing reasons why Green sucked, it sold t-shirts, hats, mouse pads and coffee mugs with "FireDennisGreen.com" printed on them. That, and advertising, saw the site pull in more than $645 a year at its peak.
"We didn't turn a profit, but no web venture did at that time," said Tottingham. "Everything was potential. And our business model was that Green would remain incompetent for many years."
Unfortunately, Green's Vikings went 36-12 from 1998 to 2000, cutting into the site's traffic, before his final 5-10 season in 2001 saw record traffic.
"Looking back, 2001 was probably our peak," said Tottingham. "We sold 120 t-shirts that year. In two different colors."
But then the bottom fell out. Green was fired and he didn't find another head coaching job until 2004 with the Arizona Cardinals. The original launch money gone, FireDennisGreen.com let go 50-percent of its staff.
"In retrospect, that was the biggest flaw with FDG," says Tottingham. "If the name of the site happened, we would be ruined."
FireDennisGreen lasted through Green's three years in Arizona that ended in 2006, but has not been able to stay afloat during his time with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL.
"We have only sold one FireDennisGreen.com t-shirt to anyone with a Sacramento zip code," said FDG's Director of Sales, James McClain. "And not a single mouse pad."
In order to pay off creditors, there will be a liquidation of FireDennisGreen.com's assets, which include t-shirts, mouse pads, coffee mugs, hats and its $30 million downtown Minneapolis headquarters.