McCombs: Green Will Be Back

Amid speculation that Dennis Green would be fired following this season, owner Red McCombs has said in no uncertain terms he will bring Green back next year.

The is no joy in Mediaville. Dennis Green will be back.

So it goes in the saga of 2001, as Green, who has been referred to as "Rasputin" by ESPN's Chris Berman because he just won't die as a head coach, was given a clear vote of confidence by owner Red McCombs. McCombs stated that Green isn't responsible for the team's many injuries and that he will be back in 2002.

This comes as bad news for the journalists who have reveled in Green's lack of success as a coach this season. It has led to National Enquirer type speculation as to the terms that would be needed to dismiss Green to a laundry list of replacements, ranging from the possible (McCombs slappy and University of Texas coach Mack Brown) to the absurd (former unsuccessful coach/Elvis lover/dolt/TV commentator Jerry Glanville).

McCombs has always been publicly supportive of Green, but, with no other infrastructure of team hierarchy between Green and McCombs, blame is slotted at the head of the man in charge. But, it seems McCombs agrees with VU on one issue -- the injuries to the Vikings on both sides of the ball have rendered much of the chances to make the playoffs moot, even more so than the league's toughest schedule.

* Daunte Culpepper is showing improvement and may get the start Sunday after a very impressive relief stint by Todd Bouman. Culpepper told VU he feels much stronger after taking a week off and VU has been told he will be listed as probable when the injury reports are released tomorrow. However, Green has not made a decision on who will start Sunday.
* Kickoff specialist/punter Mitch Berger could be gone for the rest of the year. Technically speaking, he broke the spinous process of the sixth cervical vertabra. Layman's translation? He has a broken neck. The Vikings plan to try out some punters this week and are preparing to go on without Berger -- perhaps for the rest of the season.
* If Berger can return, the team won't have to put him on injured reserve immediately. There is an open roster spot vacated by Willie Howard, who could be put on I.R. as early as today. Howard not only tore the ACL in his right knee, but broke the fibula right below the knee. The Vikings claim the injury was a cheap shot and are forwarding a tape of the play to the league office to examine.
* As if the defensive line hasn't suffered enough, VU has been told Chris Hovan may be out this week. He reinjured his ankle and is going to be officially listed as questionable for Sunday, but, seeing as he spent Monday wearing a walking cast, it's likely he'll be sidelined Sunday.
* Injury loves company and the Vikings got more of it on the offensive line. Having their starting O-line together for the first time since the season opener, Brad Badger reinjured his turf toe injury on the first series of the game and is doubtful to play this week. As has happened before, he'll be replaced by Everett Lindsay.
* The Vikings aren't alone. The Lions will be without starting CB Terry Fair Sunday. He's expected to miss a couple of weeks with an ankle injury. He'll be replaced by Bryant Westbrook, who will make his first start of the season after being sidelined with injuries to both of his Achilles tendons. Look for the Vikings to target him.
* Former Viking Mike Morris, who brought up the ire of Green by making disaparaging remarks about him on KFAN-AM radio (1130 AM), is going where Howard Stern feared to tread. Morris, who had a one-hour show on KFAN in the afternoon, has been shifted to the morning drive time slot. KFAN, which is owned by Red McCombs and others under the umbrella of Clear Channel Communications, has tried several programming efforts to combat the morning show on KQRS-FM -- a ratings juggernaut that gets the highest market share ratings of any morning show in the country. At one time, one of Clear Channel's Minneapolis-based FM stations paid big money to syndicate Howard Stern, but his show failed miserably in the ratings and his contract was cut in the middle of a show. On KFAN, the latest effort was a group melange of family members that apparently was as entertaining as annoying neighbors who like to barbeque a lot. Morris takes over the morning slot with a heavy dose of Vikings chatter on the team's flagship station. While he'll be up against stiff competition in the impossible morning drive slot, many Vikings fans (and those with jobs who had to drive in the morning) will prefer the new format -- the previous attempt drew ratings comparable to a three-hour daily loop of the soothing sounds of mooing cows. VU wishes Morris the best of luck in going up against the Twin Cities radio ratings gorilla -- expect to hear more stories about Denny Green's belt size.

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