Minnesota Vikings: It still doesn't sit too well
It still stings Mike Tice. You can hear it in his tone. For almost five years, the Chicago Bears' offensive line coach all but bit his tongue in discussing his 67-game head coaching stint with the Vikings. As Tice prepares to face his former team...
It still stings Mike Tice. You can hear it in his tone.
For almost five years, the Chicago Bears' offensive line coach all but bit his tongue in discussing his 67-game head coaching stint with the Vikings. As Tice prepares to face his former team for the first time in Minnesota, he had a few things to get off his chest.
"I had no problem with being fired," Tice said. "What I didn't like was the way it was done."
Tice, who spent 14 years with the Vikings as a player and coach, was dismissed 20 minutes after a 34-10 victory over the Bears on New Year's Day in the 2005 regular-season finale. The Vikings failed to make the playoffs at 9-7, and new owner Zygi Wilf wanted to move in a different direction. Wilf announced the firing in a one-paragraph press release.
"Handing out a press release in the locker room? I didn't appreciate that," Tice said. "My son's a ball boy and he gets handed a press release. He's in shock, so the equipment manager has to hustle him into a room. That's just not good. Then I'm in the parking lot and I had to call my wife and say, 'Hey, Diane, I just got fired. People are probably going to come out and tell you.'
"You've got to think about things when you make decisions like that. People do have feelings. People are sensitive. They were new owners and obviously got some bad advice on how to handle a situation. At least let me talk to the team the next day and tell them myself."
The Vikings declined to comment.
No angel himself
Tice stopped short of clearing himself of all the blame. Several factors contributed to his demise, including a Super Bowl ticket scandal and the infamous "Love Boat" incident.
The NFL fined Tice $100,000 in June 2005 for scalping some of his allotment of Super Bowl tickets. It was the largest fine ever assessed against a head coach at that time.
"It was a poor decision on my part," Tice said. "It was a silly mistake. I'm sorry I embarrassed my family. I paid the consequences . . . and the check."
Four months later, four Vikings players were charged with misdemeanors in connection with an alleged sex party aboard a boat on Lake Minnetonka.
"You don't brush off things like that," Tice said. "Some guys on the team showed a lack of leadership. It wasn't the whole team, but they showed poor judgment. It's well-documented that they made a mistake, and the mistake was made under my watch.
"I just hate that, still to this day, people believe it happened the Thursday before a game. It happened during the bye week, when they're on their own time. I don't know if people wanted me to follow them around or what. Obviously I didn't have a snitch because if I did, I would have put a kibosh on it."
Once Tice moved on as an assistant with the Jaguars, he tempered some of his frustration toward Vikings ownership.
"Zygi and I talked down in Jacksonville," Tice said. "He's a great guy. He's really put his all behind the team. I'm hoping the best for him -- after Monday night. It's just that it didn't work out between us in Minnesota, and that's the way it goes."
Tice still owns a home in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, where his two children attended high school. His daughter, Adrienne, graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and lives in the area. Tice planned a gathering with his daughter and 11 friends once he arrived in town.
"It's important to win this for a lot of reasons," he said. "First and foremost, hopefully things will work out where we have the chance to win the division Monday night. And secondly, it's important because you're playing in front of a lot of people who still have your back."