John Tice enters his sixth season in Minnesota and his third as the tight ends/assistant offensive line coach. He spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons as the tight ends coach and his first season with the club in 1999 as an offensive assistant.
As a player, Tice spent 10 seasons at tight end for the New Orleans Saints, from 1983-92. From 1985-91, Tice played in 105 of a possible 108 games. During a four-year stretch from 1985-88, he caught 103 passes for 1,074 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tice's best season came in '86, when he caught a career-high 37 passes for a career-high 330 yards. He was originally a third-round draft choice of the Saints in the 1983 NFL Draft.
Prior to joining the Vikings as an assistant coach, Tice worked in Melbourne, Fla., in private business and volunteered as a football coach at several high schools. He played college football for Maryland from 1979-82. As a senior in '82, Tice was selected honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press and The Sporting News. He was the leading receiver for Maryland in both his junior and senior seasons.
Q: You played for New Orleans for 10 years. What's it like returning to a place you once played at as the "enemy?"
A: It's just good to go back and see the city. But it's a business trip. It always brings back memories. All the kids were born in New Orleans. It will bring back memories riding the bus and going to the stadium. And you can always get a good meal in New Orleans — they've got good seafood, but the bottom line is you treat it like a business trip.
Q: Do you know a lot of people still with the Saints?
A: You're talking about trainers and equipment guys basically. Really, just their support staff and people who've been there for years. And, of course, you form a friendship with the people you know.
Q: Are Saints fans a special breed?
A: I can honestly say that the fans there are very loyal to the team. Of course, it's a long-suffering bunch of fans. They've backed the team throughout the years no matter what transpires on the field. I can really say they have a deep passion for the team. The city feels for them when they lose and very excited when they win.
Q: This is the third year you've been working under your brother, head coach Mike Tice. Have you noticed any changes in him?
A: I would have to say he maybe has a little more patience. The more situations you're put in and he's put in brings experience with the situation that arises again, once you've seen it once. Consciously, you learn how to deal with each situation. Just knowing the personality of each player, which is one of his strengths. Some guys respond to certain things and that gets them playing a little better, whether it's being encouraged along or whether they need a good tongue-lashing. As he gets more experience, this being his third year, he's learning how to handle those type of things.
Q: Prior to his injury a couple of weeks ago, was Jermaine Wiggins doing what you expected when the Vikings signed him?
A: You saw a classic Jermaine Wiggins game in the Philadelphia game a few weeks ago. He's an efficient blocker, not a dominating blocker, but he's a very smart ballplayer. He works underneath zones. He's not a deep threat, but he knows the game enough and has an excellent feel for defenses and he gives the quarterback someplace to go with the ball. And he can turn 5-yard checkdowns into 12-yard gains.
Q: Has Wiggins filled the role previously held by Byron Chamberlain?
A: The plan was to have Jimmy [Kleinsasser] as the power guy and doing the bulk of the work whether we were moving him or having him attached down the line. We thought we had a good combo in both of them. The combo of the two would've given people fits.
Q: Sean Berton is a classic case of a guy who didn't burn bridges when he got cut, considering you called him back after cutting him weeks before.
A: That's a guy's choice, and I had been through it myself. I tell the guys that. It's your choice. You're feeling anger and hurt, and it's your choice to go out and speak your anger though the papers, but just remember that might be a strike against you to coming back here. Once the initial anger burns off and guys realize they have to get back in the league, somehow they make a choice not to do it. It's an emotional time and it's always the same anger and hurt reaction, and some guys handle it differently. Sean handled it like a pro.
Q: It seems the Vikings pride themselves on big, physical tight ends.
A: It's something we look for, and something we have coached our scouts on what to look for as far as the type of player we look for. We like to have a stable of tight ends who do all that. In the big picture, what you get is either a receiver or a blocker. We try to look for a guy that has the ability to do both, so that we can develop him and bring him along. I think Scott [Linehan] does a good job of designing stuff that takes advantage of each guy's ability.
Q&A: With Tight Ends Coach John Tice
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