When Dennis Green said in 1997 that a conspiracy of Twin Cities newspaper columnists worked together to run him out of town, most people dismissed it as absurd. The Star-Tribune and Pioneer Press rarely agree the sun rises in the east, much less work together to get a coach fired.
But, as Green left Winter Park Friday with an attempt to hold his head up and surrounded by players obviously sad and angered to see him go, the Twin Cities media did their final carving job on Green.
With the exception of one columnist who is the Will Rogers of butts -- he never found a famous one he wouldn't kiss -- the Twin Cities newspapers, television station and radio outlets were all harping the same mantra: don't let the door hit you in the ass when you leave.
Whether it was the implication that Green "choked" in the playoffs -- a short-sighted, absurd remark considering that the only year the Vikings were favored to go the Super Bowl was in 1998 -- or the TV reporter constantly saying "our sources report first" (laughable since the only story they reported first was that Daunte Culpepper was out for two years), Green's ouster was a chance to lay out their venom one final time. It was something they truly enjoyed.
At VU, we've been taken to task by Green in the past for reporting things he didn't want public, but that's part of reporting. However, when it comes to Green, the slant of the reporting has been consistent for years -- never missing an opportunity to take shots at Green, whether for his coaching decisions or things as unimportant as his weight.
Allegations of sexual harrassment resurfaced, even though the presumption of innocence until proved guilty doesn't apply to Green. Playoff losses mean more than playoff appearances. Green himself precipitated his own demise. The list goes on and on.
One of the few attempts to praise Green over the years came from a Twin Cities columnist who, at such a complete loss to be creative or intelligent enough to find anything complimentary to write about Green, compared to him to a cockroach -- which can survive a nuclear blast.
It's pathetic how Twins manager Tom Kelly, who arguably had the worst team in baseball over the last decade, was lavished with praise for giving it the old college try -- often fielding a team that would have competed at a college level. Or Flip Saunders, who has never taken the Timberwolves past a first-round playoff loss despite having talented players like Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and Tom Gugliotta on a team that only starts five players instead of 22, is also stroked by these same media types -- many of whom are friendly with he and Kevin McHale away from the court. Did he get blasted like Green? Hell no. Or the University of Minnesota hockey team, which has proved it isn't even the best college hockey team in the state, has been treated more or less with kid gloves.
But Green? He's a different story. Perhaps in the long-term it's best for Green that he got out when he did. The abuse had gone on long enough and wasn't even creative anymore. The same media trumpeteers merely regurgitated, they didn't create anything new.
Good bye, coach. Yes, you could have done a better job dealing with the media -- much better -- but, seeing how they're saying good bye to you, maybe you had the right idea all along.
* VU has been told you take Steve Spurrier off the list of coaches for the Vikings. After leaving Minnesota Friday, Red McCombs went to Florida to meet with Spurrier, who resigned from Florida. We're told the meeting lasted just a few minutes, as the arrogant Spurrier asked not only for a huge salary, but a portion of team ownership. Good luck, Steve. You're not that good.
* Another source says Tony Dungy might be reluctant to take the Vikings job out of respect for Green. Don't believe that. Unemployment in the NFL can get long-term if you don't find a suitor quickly. If Dungy is offered a deal after being fired by Tampa -- don't believe TV slappies who say Dungy stays even if the Bucs lose at Philly in the playoffs or that Daunte is out two years -- he will be hard-pressed not to accept a head coaching job with the Vikings. There are only 30 other guys in the world with that job and Spurrier wants to be one of them.
* Another controversy has erupted over who started the rumor of Green's firing? Some are saying McCombs' people leaked the information. Others say it was Green's agent Ray Anderson, who wanted to force the hand of McCombs to get all or most of Green's $5.4 million remaining on his contract -- of which he got most of. McCombs told VU he didn't plan on firing Green, but that the situation spiraled out of control quickly once the word got out Thursday.
* Orlando Thomas spoke for most of the players Friday when asked if he thought Green got a raw deal, saying, "You all (in the media) wanted him out of here. You don't want to hear the truth. Hell yeah, he got a raw deal."
* The top candidates from what VU is hearing right now are Mike Tice, University of Texas Mack Brown, Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and Dungy.
* Since when did drunks at sports bars become the voice of the average fan? Do they ask these same beer-swilling boozehounds about politics? It seems you couldn't turn around without some drunk with a colorful nickname putting in his two cents worth on Green. Maybe some outlets should consider going to a mall or restaurant or grocery store to get the reactions of the sober.
* Green was just a week short of 10 years with the Vikings. He was hired Jan. 10, 1992, and fired Jan. 4, 2002.
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