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Vikings Fire Tice After Win

January 02, 2006|From the Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Tice left the Metrodome a winner, but it didn't matter.

Tice was fired Sunday, despite the Minnesota Vikings' 34-10 victory over the Chicago Bears that gave them a winning record after a poor start.

Minnesota finished 9-7, one positive for Tice during yet another up-and-down season that was marred by a scandalous boat party during the team's bye week.

Although his team rebounded from a 2-5 start, owner Zygi Wilf decided not to keep the coach.

Brad Johnson passed for 247 yards and two touchdowns against the NFC North champion Bears.

Thomas Jones ran 12 times for 62 yards in the first half to finish with 1,335 yards for Chicago (11-5), which had used a dominant defense and an eight-game winning streak to take control of the division.

Jones' rushing total was the highest for a Bear other than Walter Payton.

Tice, who finished his fourth full season with a 32-32 overall record, had already addressed the media before the move was made public.

The announcement came via press release after most players had left the Metrodome.

"I don't know who was more shaken by it, him or me," Tice said of what he called an emotional meeting with Wilf.

"It's the owner's decision," said Johnson, one of the few players who were left in the Metrodome when the announcement was made.

"It's a tough business, and I appreciate Mike and the way he treated me and the way he treated the team. I wish him greatness."

Tice's tenure as coach was also tarnished by a $100,000 fine levied last summer against him by the league for scalping his Super Bowl tickets.

"After significant evaluation, we feel that now is the time to make a coaching change," Wilf said in the statement.

The owner was gone when the statement was released, and he scheduled a news conference for today.

Kick returner Koren Robinson had to compose himself before commenting, managing a "Whoa, that's crazy," as he read the statement.

"In the locker room? Right after a game you just won?" Robinson said. "Give the man respect enough to wait until Monday to enjoy the win, at least."

Safety Darren Sharper crumpled up the release and threw it on the floor before declining comment, and running back Mewelde Moore also tersely declined to comment.

Wilf said previously that Tice's job status would be discussed at the team's headquarters today.

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