Negative types are finding lots less to complain about

Sid Hartman, Star Tribune
Last update: November 26, 2005 at 8:14 PM


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I am a lifelong Viking fan living in Wausau, Wis. Green Bay is a medium-size city of 100,000. It is a hard-working, blue-collar, industrial-based city that would be no different from any other city in the United States except for the fact that it has NFL football.

I was at the game (Monday) night and am convinced that we must get the business, community and political leaders of the state of Minnesota to a Viking/Packer game. Once they experience the excitement, passion and electricity of a game like this, I believe all of these stakeholders will finally realize the asset the Twin Cities would have by getting a state-of-the-art stadium for our team. What else can we do?


Before the Vikings beat the Giants, beat Detroit and beat Green Bay, some in the media were calling on franchise owner Zygi Wilf to fire Mike Tice.

Others were asking for a change in offensive coordinators. Yes, things were different, they said, when Scott Linehan was the offensive coordinator.

Linehan, whom I have the utmost respect for, is now offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, who are 3-7.

Well, lately nobody is asking for Tice to be replaced, and even though the offense hasn't set the world on fire, we haven't heard Linehan's name mentioned for some time. Apparently offensive coordinator Steve Loney recently had a brain implant that included some great football knowledge

Yes, even Linehan would have had problems operating with an offense minus six starters -- Nate Burleson, Randy Moss, Matt Birk, Onterrio Smith, David Dixon and then Daunte Culpepper.

How does Tice react to having most everyone jumping on the bandwagon now after all of the earlier criticism?

"I learned from coach George O'Leary that you can never get too high or too low, but being a Type A, New York personality, it's hard for me to not get too high or too low," Tice said. "But I think this season, with the things we have gone through on and off the field, personally with me making the mistake with the ticket [scalping] situation, I've tried to maintain some level of consistency as far as my emotions are concerned. I think that helps a lot."

Tice said he comes to work every day feeling blessed to be one of only 32 men in the world to have the job of being a head coach in the NFL.

"If you look at it that way, how fortunate you are, I think you'll come to work and enjoy your job when things are going bad," he said. "Obviously, when things are going good it's easy to have my job. Right now things are going better."

Tice was asked if the team's 2-5 start this season had any effect on how his family was treated by the public, especially his son, Nathan, who is a member of the Edina High School football team.

"The kids in Edina are very good kids. Fortunately for me, I've been involved athletically coaching many of the peers Nathan has," Tice said. "They are very polite and not very mean at all. In fact, the meanest ones I have, as far as that goes, are my daughter, Adrienne, and Nate. They tease me and pick on me more than anybody. Especially Adrienne."

Tice doesn't believe that the criticism of the coaches by cornerback Antoine Winfield after the Carolina loss has had anything to do with the three consecutive victories, two on the road.

"What you have to understand is that Antoine Winfield is the same guy that after the Cincinnati loss stood up in front of the team and apologized for his performance," Tice said.

"And now, three or four weeks later, when things aren't going good, he spoke out about how we're all in this together and players need to execute better but coaches need to help us more. If you look at the individual and the character of the individual who made those comments I think you can put it all into perspective. If it was some loudmouth player that wasn't playing well and that was not accountable for when he didn't play well I think it's taken a little differently. When it's coming from a guy of such high character and such an excellent player, like Antoine Winfield, I think the team and the coaching staff took it the right way."

Tice believes he is the same coach now as when the Vikings were 2-5, that players win games and that coaches don't win them but they can help lose them.

Nobody is a bigger booster of quarterback Brad Johnson than Tice, who lobbied to sign the 37-year-old veteran. But he is not ready to say the team is better off without the injured Culpepper.

"Well, Daunte Culpepper is the leader of this football team," Tice said. "Culpepper, like the rest of this team and this offense, had some struggles early in the season, but Daunte was starting to play magical football when he got hurt. The run that he got hurt on was a magical run."

Vikings defensive lineman Pat Williams, who is having a Pro Bowl year, was asked if this is the best he has played. "No. I've been playing like this ever since I've been in Buffalo. I was dominating over there, too." Williams said. "You should look at the film."
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The Vikings administration can thank former Vikings offensive tackle Tim Irwin, now an agent, for sending free agent Herrera and cornerback Dovonte Edwards to the club when other teams were interested.