McCombs ripped team after Giants loss
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings lost their first game of the season -- and got chewed out by their outspoken owner in the locker room afterward.
On Monday, a contrite Red McCombs backed down a bit from his harsh assessment while players and coaches went back to work, eager to find ways to fix their mistakes and refocus on what's made them successful.
After all, they are still 6-1.
"We never really said we were perfect," said coach Mike Tice, who had to remind McCombs of that after the Vikings' 29-17 loss at home to the New York Giants.
McCombs, who occasionally addresses the team following games, told players they "humiliated" the franchise with their performance because of how excited fans at the Metrodome were until the end.
The entire team was taken aback by McCombs' frankness, especially considering Minnesota's record, and Tice called his boss Sunday night to express disappointment with his comments.
"It was obvious it was something he didn't think was handled the best by me," McCombs said from his San Antonio office during a conference call Monday. "Although he said nothing negative to me, he said we just have to get on with it."
McCombs, who admitted he was in an "awkward situation," attributed his rant to a little negative post-game energy as well as "some stupidity."
McCombs said he didn't remember specifically saying "humiliated" -- a strong word he said he hardly ever uses -- but he acknowledged in hindsight he shouldn't have been so tough.
"I have a great appreciation for everybody that is in that game," said McCombs, who bought the team in 1998. "I regret doing anything that would in any manner show discredit on a player or a coach."
Strong safety Corey Chavous, a defensive captain, didn't want to speak directly about McCombs' tirade.
"I try my best to help this team win a football game," Chavous said. "That's the only comment I have to any comments anyone has. It comes back to what everybody in this organization wants. That's to be a successful football team. I think everybody's on the same page."
Tice tried his best to stay diplomatic.
"He owns the team," Tice said. "He has a right to evaluate the performance as he sees it."
The coach, however, stressed to McCombs, the media and anyone else who was listening that he felt the Vikings played hard despite the defeat.
"I doubt it was because of a lack of effort," Tice said. "It might have been because we got a little overconfident. It might be because we didn't tackle well. It might have been because we didn't make plays on special teams. It might have been for a number of different reasons, but I don't think it was because of a lack of effort."
The Vikings gave up a season-high 450 yards to the Giants, who found a rhythm behind quarterback Kerry Collins and scored 13 points in the fourth quarter for the win.
Minnesota was unable to find its own balance on offense, with a banged-up group of wide receivers behind Randy Moss and a running game that only worked well on a handful of plays.
The Vikings hurt themselves with a couple costly special-teams mistakes, too. Jack Brewer blocked a punt early in the fourth quarter that New York's Wesley Mallard picked up at his own 5-yard line and ran 20 yards for the first down.
The Vikings forced another punt on that drive. They had to punt themselves, and Eddie Johnson's kick landed inside the 5 and could've pinned the Giants deep in their territory. Brian Williams allowed it to bounce into the end zone, however, and New York used an 80-yard drive to score the go-ahead touchdown.
"There's so much room for improvement with this young football team," Tice said.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press