Vikings' Green steps down with one game remaining

Saturday, January 5, 2002

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Dennis Green was forced out Friday as coach of the Minnesota Vikings with one game left in a dismal season that has the team out of the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

Green, whose 10-year tenure ties him with Pittsburgh's Bill Cowher for longest in the league, accepted a buyout of the last two years of his contract.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice will coach the team for Monday night's finale at Baltimore.

Owner Red McCombs said the team's 5-10 record wasn't a factor. He said he "couldn't find a way for leadership with Dennis that worked."

When Green was hired 10 years ago, he was only the second black coach of NFL's modern era. Art Shell, hired by the Raiders in 1988, was the first.

This will be the first losing season in Green's 10-year tenure.

Since 1995, the Vikings are 97-62 under Green and have reached two NFC championship games.

Last year, however, they lost 41-0 to the New York Giants, and Green was roundly blamed for the defeat.

Nevertheless, McCombs signed Green to a two-year contract extension, with an option for a third season that guarantees him about $5 million for the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

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