The Minnesota Vikings fired rookie Coach Les Steckel yesterday, one day after he finished the season 3-13, the worst record in the team's history.
With the regular season over, Steckel's dismissal is the first of what is expected to be a rash of coach firings/hirings around the league.
Viking General Manager Mike Lynn said he asked for Steckel's resignation. But Steckel, at 38 the youngest head coach in the NFL, refused and Lynn fired him and 12 assistants.
Steckel had replaced Bud Grant, who retired in January following 17 seasons as coach. Steckel had been Grant's assistant.
Steckel was not available, but the team released his statement: "I want to wish the Vikings great success in the future, success I know they will achieve. I'll remain a Viking enthusiast . . . . I'll always reflect on the many rewarding experiences I've had and the friends I made in Minnesota."
Players expressed relief at the dismissal.
"He tried to run a professional team with a high school attitude," said linebacker Scott Studwell. "Les dug himself an awful big hole and couldn't climb out of it.
"I sense a huge sigh of relief," said defensive end Doug Martin, adding that Steckel hurt morale by releasing veterans including Rickey Young, John Turner, Randy Holloway, and Duck White . . .
Former Cleveland Browns coach Sam Rutigliano will be named coach of the Buffalo Bills, who finished 2-14, by today, the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal reported yesterday.
Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson said only that he would meet with Coach Kay Stephenson and General Manager Terry Bledsoe Thursday or Friday to discuss the coaching situation.
Rutigliano, fired after the Browns' 1-7 start, declined to comment . . .
The Tampa Bay Buccanneers' deliberate yielding of a touchdown to the New York Jets Sunday "goes against everything the NFL stands for," a league spokesman said. He said the NFL would review the matter.
John McKay, in his last game as the Buccaneers' coach, ordered the score be allowed in the final minute of their 41-21 victory to get the ball back and give running back James Wilder a chance at the single-season record for combined yardage. Wilder still fell 15 yards short . . .
Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards said he would be willing to recommend up to $20 million in state aid to keep the Saints in New Orleans.
A.N. Pritzker, patriarch of a wealthy Chicago family, reportedly is negotiating with owner John Mecom Jr., who is asking $75 million . . .
Houston Oilers Coach Hugh Campbell met briefly with General Manager Ladd Herzeg but would shed no light on Herzeg's published report that he felt the team's offense was not aggressive enough this season. Herzeg blamed the coaching staff.
Herzeg said Campbell would return as head coach, but Campbell said it would take a meeting with Herzeg, team owner Bud Adams and himself to get the situation straightened out . . .
Former owner A. Alfred Taubman said published reports that the Michigan Panthers of the U.S. Football League lost $12 million before a merger with the Oakland Invaders "could be approximately correct."