View Full Version : There's a lot of defensive talk at Winter Park

03-09-2005, 05:06 AM
Posted on Wed, Mar. 09, 2005

There's a lot of defensive talk at Winter Park


There was big news at Winter Park on Tuesday. The Vikings landed cornerback Fred Smoot. Then there was bigger news, which made the signing of Smoot almost moot.

On the day the Vikings decided to invest millions of dollars in the free-agent cornerback they coveted most, the NFL investigated allegations that coach Mike Tice was involved in Super Bowl ticket scalping.

It made for an interesting Tuesday at Winter Park. In Tice's case, it was an interrogating Tuesday.

Tice met with NFL investigators looking into whether he ran and profited from a Super Bowl ticket-scalping venture involving Vikings players and staff, according to a story on SI.com.

Confronting allegations from unidentified sources that he has masterminded the ticket-scalping operation since he was an assistant coach, Tice told the Pioneer Press he was "very confident, when the league finishes looking into this, everything will be fine.'

Mike Kelly, the Vikings' executive vice president before leaving the team late this past season, backed Tice, saying, "It just smells like a smear campaign to me. I give the report no credibility. In my estimation, this is probably the attempt of some disgruntled staff member, former player or agent trying to get back at the head coach. I have no doubt that the NFL will clear this up promptly in Mike's favor.'

If Kelly is right, Tice will be able to put aside these accusations and look forward to overseeing a team suddenly motivated to spend money.

After what happened with Smoot, you can stop berating the Vikings for being cheapskates. They snapped out of their financial slumber, shedding their reputation as the league's version of Rip Van Winkle when it comes to free agency and making things happen.

All of a sudden, the money spigot is flowing.

And you know what that means. Red McCombs must be pretty dang confident the sale of the team to Reggie Fowler will go through. Ordinarily, it takes a crowbar to pry money out of McCombs' mitts. Tuesday, he was throwing cash around like it was somebody else's.

Besides agreeing to terms with Smoot, who will make it a lot tougher for quarterbacks to strafe their secondary, the Vikings ponied up to persuade tight end Jermaine Wiggins to re-sign with them.

They're also trying to swing a few trades.

Either McCombs is confident Fowler will wind up with the Vikings or somebody needs to check to see if he bonked his head on something and he temporarily has forgotten what a tightwad he is. If it's the latter, he needs a few more bonks to the head.

The Vikings went into Tuesday a league-high $25 million under the salary cap. (It wasn't $31 million as reported in many places.) After locking up Smoot with a six-year deal believed to total $34 million and bringing back Wiggins with a five-year contract worth $7.3 million and restructuring a veteran's existing pact, they'll shrink that cap number nearer to $20 million.

They're actually spending money wisely.

Smoot and Antoine Winfield are your starting cornerbacks, which moves Brian Williams to nickel back. With the signing of Smoot, which takes place this morning, the Vikings have one of the best corner tandems in the league.

Tice labeled Smoot "just another piece to that defensive puzzle.' When Tice spoke to the Twin Cities media about Smoot he was subdued. As he left the media room, he was told he looked tired. The look could have been related to his meeting with two NFL investigators earlier in the day.

The puzzle Tice spoke of would be a lot closer to completion if the Vikings could rustle up a pass-rushing defensive end and a safety who hits so hard he can turn running backs and receivers into human mulch.

Jacksonville's Donovin Darius can do that sort of thing, and he wants to play for the Vikings. The Vikings, in turn, have shown interest in acquiring Darius.

The Vikings also have been talking to Washington about acquiring wide receiver Rod Gardner. That wouldn't be so bad, having Nate Burleson and Gardner as the starting receivers with Marcus Robinson coming in as the third receiver.

At the moment, the only thing bad in the Vikings' corner of the world is related to that ticket-scalping investigation.

03-09-2005, 09:15 AM
nice article. obviously the vikes front office is pretty confident about tice and his truthfulness.