Mike Tice – PR Genius?

The most recent issue of Sporting News arrived yesterday with "NFL Can Mike Tice survive?" above the banner on the front cover. Inside was a feature article on the Vikings head coach entitled "Mr. Big’s shot." Also yesterday, the NFL Network ran a superb NFL Films piece on the Vikings that included a very flattering segment on Tice.

For a guy who just this offseason was embroiled in a high-profile Super Bowl ticket scalping scandal, he seems to have recovered nicely, mediawise.

There couldn’t be a more glaring contract between the media relations of Coach Mike Tice and his predecessor, Dennis Green. Where Green adopted a secretive and often combative relationship with the press while giving them precious few quotes that they could use, Tice is eminently quotable–often to his and his team’s detriment–and has a positive relation with the media.

The directed benefit of positive press as a result of Tice’s relationship with the media is on full display in the Sporting News article:

"If you have any brains, you oughta be pulling for him. I mean, it’s like taking the guy sitting at the bar, the one with all the loud opinions because he knows everything about everything, and giving him a whistle and a head coaching job. He’s one of us, you know what I mean-even if he’s like a foot taller? Hand him a beer and a cigar and put a Knicks game on and he’s the best company." 

Except for the hiccup of the ticket scalping scandal–where he would have been far better served personally but just shutting up–Tice has done a fine job of handling the media. And even in that case, where he kept digging himself into a deeper hole with the league with his candor, that very honesty helped him 1) keep the story from lasting longer than it otherwise could have and, 2) gave him credit futher down the road with the press. The Sporting News feature  dismisses the ticket scandal in the second paragraph:

"I want to talk to you for a minute. It’s about Mike Tice, OK? You probably think you’re some football genius so you know this Tice guy. Really tall and coaches the Vikings and got in trouble with the league for selling his Super Bowl tickets-what’s the big stink anyway?-and trades away his best player, that numbskull Randy Moss."

Keep in mind that Tice is laboring under the burden of job insecurity with a one-year contract and expectations that if the team does not go deep into the playoffs this year, he’ll be out of a job. This positive press helps Tice personally in the even he’ll be looking for a job at the end of the season, and the abilty to handle the press is no small qualification for a head coach in today’s NFL.

How To Be Patrick Reusse

First of all, harumph a lot.

If you’re writing about the Vikings, be sure to take a shot at 1) Randy Moss, preferably by calling into question his sanity and/or maturity, 2) sports talk radio listeners/callers by calling the whiners, and 3) the Culpepper-bashers because, what? there’s some risk of Daunte not being recognized as the great quaterback he is by the majority of Vikings fans?

I dunno; I guess I’m just sick of reading the same damn Culpepper’s-great,-you-peons-don’t-know-anything-and-by-the-way,-Moss-sucks column year in and year out. I heard you the first time. Let it go, already.

But then I guess dusting off last year’s column is easier than actually writing a new one.

How ’bout telling me why Culpepper is such a phenomenal quarterback. I know you don’t want to throw a microcosm of credit Moss’ way, but still, how bout answering the question about how much more accurate Pepp will need to be this year when he doesn’t have the six foot four, mile-long-armed Randy to throw to? 

It would be nice to actually learn something from our sportswriters, for a change. Besides, I already know where you stand on the Culpepper/fans/Moss thing, and frankly, I don’t give a flyin rip.

Onterrio Smith’s Whizzinator

It should come as no surprise and I supposed I should be dismayed because Onterrio Smith showed last year that he can be one hell of a running back. But this is entirely too precious to not to appreciate the humor: Vikings running back Onterrio Smith–who already has two strikes in the NFL’s substance abuse policy–was stopped at airport security and found with The Original Whizzinator!, a device used to circumvent unrine tests.

Now, before you click, you should know that you may be offended by The Whizzinator Web site because it has picutres of very real looking prosthetic penises (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Yes, that’s right, Smith was caught with a fake schlong. The device goes for $150, and is a jock strap with a fake penis attached. A hidden bag holds the urine sample. The Original Whizzinator people will sell you powdered urine, to which you add a precise amount of water and inject into your Whizzinator before giving your urine sample.

Smith had one strike against him even before he entered the league for getting kicked off his college team for possession of ganja. Stike two came when he failed an NFL drug test last year and served a four game suspension as a result. It remains to be seen whether possession of a masking device constitutes strike three, for which Smith would serve a year-long suspension.

According to the Star Tribune Kevin Seifert‘s story, "the NFL’s testing guidelines include having the player take his shirt off and pull his pants down below his knees in front of an observer." The Whizzinator must be awfully good, if those are the standards. Apparently, it’s good enough for actor Tom Sizemore of Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down fame who got caught using the device in April.

Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but how embarrasing for Smith. When, or if, he does get back on the field, can you imagine the heckling he’ll receive from fans and the trash talking he’ll get from opponents? I’m thinking the word "dildo" will be among the most popular insults.

Onterrio Smith claimed he was taking the Whizzinator to his cousin. Really?!? Considering his history, count me as a Doubting John Thomas.

Mike Tice – The Scalper

So Vikings coach Mike Tice has finally admitted that he scalped his Super Bowl tickets. That’s a direct contradiction to what he was saying just a few days ago when he claimed that though he routinely scalped tickets as an assistant coach, he never scalped tickets after he became head coach.

While the practice, though against league rules, runs rampant within NFL clubhouses, it appears that Tice is being made an example by the league.

Tice may have helped to dig his own grave deeper than it could have been by being so candid to Sports Illustrated reporters. Though he was quoted as saying that his lawyer had put a gag on him, he continued to talk and when he spoke, he displayed absolutely no message discipline. He should have stuck to his original line of "I am confident that when the league is finished looking into this, everything will be fine. I’m confident nothing is going to come of this."

But if there’s one thing Vikings’ fans have learned about Tice, it’s that he can’t keep his mouth shut. Tice kept the story alive by feeding SI.com reporters eye-dropper doses of story hooks: He didn’t scalp tickets as a head coach but did as an assistant; then he admits to scalping Super Bowl tickets as a head coach.

Either keep your mouth shut or, if you’re gonna confess, confess everything, show remorse, and don’t try and justify it by saying everyone else does it–leave that arguement to others.

The manner in which Tice handled this story practically begs the league to come down harder on him than they may have otherwise because this story has become an embarassment not just for Tice, but for the league as a whole.

This whole mess should surprise no one; Tice is, after all, the lowest paid coach in the league.

Why Tim Russert Sucks

There are so many reasons why Meet the Press host Tim Russert sucks; this is merely the most recent:

This Sunday Russert had former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As the mayor of New York City, Giuliani was by necessity and in fact, a liberal Republican. Sadly, he has since turned sharply partisan and that was on full display on this Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Russert’s trick is to capture a quote which puts his guest in a box and try and see him wriggle out of it. This is supposed to demonstrate Russert’s tough questioning, but, since everyone knows this is his tactic, they’re prepared for it. And since Russert does it every week, it has become a merely a pretense of tough questioning. The charade was on display again today when Russert reiterated Giuliani blaming the troops for not securing the missing explosives in Iraq:
"No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there," Giuliani said on NBC’s "Today" show. "Did they search carefully enough? Didn’t they search carefully enough?"

Giuliani dodged the question and went on to spread, unchallenged by Russert, a long-winded rhetorical smear against Senator John Kerry that was short on facts and full of fear-mongering.

Russert, seemingly oblivious to the lies being spread on his program, next asked Giuliani if the next president could bring the nation together after such a divisive campaign. Yes, Giuliani said, and it’s essential that whoever wins move to the center, reach out, appoint Administration members from the other party, etc.

It apparently didn’t occur to Russert to question Giuliani drastic change in temperment and tone from the previous moment.

You sure are tough, Russert; you go on belieiving that.

And The Band Played On…

…Without Ashlee Simpson

You wanna see something painful?

If you missed Saturday Night Live over the weekend (and who could’ve blamed you? It ain’t exactly the cutting edge of humor these days), you missed a lip-sync moment that should be featured on a pop music bloopers tape.

Teen pop star Ashlee Simpson began her second song of the night with her band playing one song live, and her pre-recorded voice singing the lyrics of the song she had previously performed, "Pieces of Me." As if this syncopated pandemonium weren’t enough, the painfully embarrassed Simpson did not know how to deal with the situation: she danced for a few bars before slinking off stage.

At the end of the show, Simpson apologized next to host Jude Law, and blamed her band: "My band started playing the wrong song. I didn’t know what to do so I thought I’d do a hoe-down."

So her band was responsible for her disembodied singing? I don’t know which should be more embarrassing for her: The fact that she was humiliated on national television or her sorry excuse of an excuse.

The fact that music stars lip sync has been an unremarkable part of the pop landscape since Milli Vanilli were outed. What may be controversial, however, is the fact that the snafu occurred on SNL, which I thought was supposed to be, like, the last bastion of live televised musical performances.

In case you missed it, CollegeHumor.com has posted the clip.

(While you’re there–and not at work, if you know what I mean–they have a hilarous video of a woman streaker scoring a goal at a Spanish soccer game. Damn. That shit never happens at Vikings games!)


Chef is The Veteran‘s cousin and is indeed a chef. He’s an ordinary, down-to-earth kind of guy who is usually the focal point of any room in which he happens to find himself. He is at ease with himself and, as a reult, is at ease with others.

He likes to have a good time and whoever is with him usually has a good time as well. The good things that define his version of good times are friends, food, fermented beverages, and f***ing.

Chef is the brother of Fearful Flyer and happily for everyone involved, applies his culinary expertise to her birthday bash that she holds at a St. Paul Saints game every year.

Cast–Fearful Flyer

Fearful Flier is The Veteran‘s cousin and sister to Chef. She is not a librarian though she went to school to become one and as a result, is the first person to turn to when you need to track down an elusive fact or piece of knowledge.

The fact that she has a command of knowledge and knows where to look for the knowledge she does not have, gives her a natural advantage over pretty much everyone.

She started her own business so she could work on her own terms and from home where she can care for her three children. Her husband is an Irish playwright who is as equally imposing in stature as he is understated in conversation.

I first met Fearful Flyer on a project we both worked on and for which we fly to New York. It was on this trip that I discovered that she was afraid of flying. I’d never been on a plane trip with someone who feared flying, so it made a lasting impression on me.

The flight to New York was not so bad for her but the flight back was indeed. While explaining that she uisually didn’t drink, she insisted that we go to the bar before our flight left, which I was perfectly happy to do. We had a few drinks and were on our way.

Fearful Flyer got increasingly anxious as the plane waited to taxi. She was visibly upset as the jet revved its engines, took off down the runway, and took to the air. Once airborne, she calmed down a bit.

Sometime into the flight, however, we ran into turbulence–a thunderstorm–and as lightening struck outside our window the plane was buffeted about, she began to shake and murmur "Oh, my God."

I tried to talk to her and tell her everything would be alright and engage her in conversation to keep her mind off of the storm but really, what could I ultimately do to effectively assuage her fears? Not much. Not much at all.

Needless to say, we arrived safely and I’m sure she still fears flying.

Every year, Feaful Flyer throws herself a birthday bash that is one of the events of the season. She throws it at a Saint Paul Saints game. Everyone arrives early for tailgating that features fantastic food by her brother Chef and beer. Saints games are always entertaining and afterwards we usually end up at The Half Time Rec. So her birthdays are always a full day of food and fun.

Cast–Surfer Dude

Surfer Dude, not surprisingly, is from California. It is not for that reason alone that I call him Surfer Dude: He actually does surf.

He’s also a talented photographer–and videographer–and happily makes his own video highlight reels of his surfing, something I’d love to be able to do for my football games.

I met him at one of The Veteran‘s parties and overheard them talking about playing football. He’s a very talented football player. He’s fast but deceptively so because he’s got a compact build, more of a running back than a wide reciever.

He moved from California where he worked at some Hollywood studios doing animation to Minnesota to set up his own animation shop with Pixel Grrrl. I’ve admitted to them both that I’ve got a serious case of professional envy because I love animation.

From Minnesota he moved to Chicago and from there he moved to Orlando where he now works at one of the leading video game companies.

Surfer Dude smartly uses organized city football leagues as a means of meeting new people in a new city.

But he didn’t have much of a chance to play football shortly after he moved to Orlando because about a week and a half after me moved there the first of four major hurricanes hit Florida; the eyes of two of them passed over Orlando.

One night while he was in Minnesota, we stood for about a half hour outside a bar so he could watch an oncoming violent thunderstorm, a phenomenon he didn’t get much of a chance to see in sunny California.

In Orlando, not only did Surfer Dude get plenty of opportunities to sate his hunger for inclement weather, he also got plenty of practice at hurricane preperation and he got to snap pictures of the resulting damage.


Grover was The Veteran‘s best man. They’ve been buddies since childhood and the stories of thie deeds and misdeeds are seemingly endless.

He got his nickname because, as a kid, he he did a flawless imitation of Grover on the Sesame Street television show.

When I first started hanging with The Veteran, he said that I had to meet Grover because we had a lot in common and have the same sense of humor. We do.

Like Grover, I’m amused by the unexpected and the inappropriate. When I’m listening to a formal speech by, say, a politician, I often make up alternate and inappropriate speeches for him that end with his audience stunned into silence. Like Grover, I’m a news addict. I must know what’s going on in the world (though, I admit, I’ve lost a great deal of interest since Bush was reelected) and constantly have cable news as a informational wallpaper.

He’s opinionated and not afraid to express his views. Grover and I love a knock-down, drag-out political discussion.

Grover is loyal almost to a fault, a trait I admire a great deal because I value loyalty a great deal. He’s also an extremely generous person.

Grover and I are both former smokers. He’s an IT administrator and, like me, he likes all the coolest and latest tech toys.

Grover is married to Artisan and they have a baby daughter.