MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings became an embarrassment on Mike Tice's watch, with a ticket scalping scandal, the infamous lake cruise and a Whizzinator somewhere in between.
There weren't enough wins to cover up the ugliness, and now Tice is out of a job.
Owner Zygi Wilf fired Tice after Sunday's victory over Chicago capped a disappointing 9-7 season in which the Vikings, a trendy preseason pick to go to the Super Bowl, missed the playoffs.
The news wasn't a surprise, but the timing and manner in which it was delivered stunned the few players remaining in the stadium Sunday.
A team executive issued a two-paragraph press release to reporters in the Vikings' locker room after most players had gone home.
Pro Bowl kick returner Koren Robinson had to compose himself before commenting, managing a "Whoa, that's crazy," while he read the statement at his locker.
|Mike Tice walks off the field a winner, but is let go within an hour after the game. (Getty Images)|
Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper crumpled up the release and threw it on the floor before declining comment and running back Mewelde Moore also tersely declined comment.
Tice, who finished his fourth full season with a 32-32 overall record, had already addressed the media before the move was made public. Reporters waited for him long after the game was over, and the coach wore a good-natured smile and showed no bitterness about the way the situation was handled.
"It's a shame I'm not going to be able to work with the Wilfs," Tice said with moist eyes. "I think they're going to be top notch owners. ... I'm very proud with a lot of the things we've accomplished with the things we've been given to work with."
Tice was one of three NFL coaches to go following Sunday's games; Dick Vermeil announced his retirement in Kansas City, and a person close to the organization told the Associated Press that the Houston Texans planned to fire Dom Capers.
Tice's tenure was mostly marked by streaks and scandals.
A $100,000 fine was levied last summer against him by the league for scalping his Super Bowl tickets and running back Onterrio Smith was caught at the airport with a device designed to beat drug tests dubbed the "Original Whizzinator." But perhaps the biggest blow came with revelations of a wild boat party during the team's bye week this season that produced misdemeanor charges against four players.