During his weekly press conference Wednesday, Vikings head coach Mike Tice was asked if he was going to coach "tough" this week.
"I am going to act like I should act," Tice said. Tice went on to explain his plan for the rest of the week. He mentioned how there wouldn't be much free time from meetings to practice sessions to lunch. Tight scheduling, he said, so everyone would be focused on the Carolina Panthers, their opponent Sunday.
If fans and radio talk shows weren't focusing a week ago on the sex party boats scandal, they were talking about Tice's job security. Specifically, that Tice had none. Prevailing wisdom suggested that despite receiving owner Zygi Wilf's vote of approval, Tice would be in trouble if the Vikings repeated their dismal effort against Chicago when they faced Green Bay.
After one half Sunday it appeared Tice could be coaching his last game. Then the Vikings overcame a 17-0 deficit and sealed a come-from-behind victory with a 56-yard field goal to beat the Packers 23-20.
While a few disgruntled players anonymously undermined Tice to some reporters, others came to his defense minutes after the memorable win.
"True leaders in time of adversity show their character," receiver Nate Burleson said. "When things were boiling to the top and people were knocking us on and off the field and jumping off the bandwagon saying the season was down the drain, Coach Tice was walking around with a smile on his face, patting players on the back and walking around very confident. It wasn't false enthusiasm. It was the true love he has for the game and for the team."
Tice's halftime speech to the Vikings has been well documented. But his demeanor all week leading up to the game was what some players noticed.
"It wasn't just what he did at halftime. It was before the game and all during the week," Burleson said. "It was the energy he had all week. He's a tremendous leader. He means so much to the organization, he means so much to the individuals on this team. He's one of our brothers and we love him to death. When he goes out there and leads, the troops are going to follow."
Viking Update asked cornerback Antoine Winfield if Tice's job was saved Sunday when the Vikings beat Green Bay.
"I don't know. You'll have to ask Zygi Wilf that," Winfield said. "I have no idea. As long as we win, he'll be here."
Winfield gives Tice his show of support. "He's a great guy," Winfield said. "He comes in with a smile and won't let us see that he's down."
At 2-4, the Vikings have a ways to go before Tice will or should be lauded for his coaching ability. The boat party scandal hasn't even begun to go away and the team still has much to show before they shed the underachiever label and morph into a playoff contender.
But even after one win in a row, there are more smiles at Winter Park. Confidence, players and coaches agree, is on the rise. The Vikings hope that will convert into more wins in the near future.
"I think they are having more fun today than they have had in the last few Wednesdays, maybe all the Wednesdays except New Orleans week," Tice said. "Winning is fun, regardless. We'll take the win regardless of what is going on in our lives. We'll take the win. You have fun when you win. It is pretty simple in sports. That's what we are paid to do."
Tice's job security isn't a distraction to the players.
"We can't worry about that," Winfield said. "We have a job to do. We have to go out there and try to win some games. We win, and he'll be here."
Players Support Tice's Approach
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