View Full Version : Vikings: More time off granted with a warning: Behave

10-10-2006, 05:50 AM
Vikings: More time off granted with a warning: Behave (http://www.startribune.com/510/story/732112.html)

The Vikings' bye week -- which coincided with the wrong sort of publicity last season -- prompted a cautioning word from the coach.

Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
Last update: October 09, 2006 – 11:23 PM

The message was simple. As they scatter across the country today for an extended bye-week vacation, Vikings players will carry one demand from coach Brad Childress.
"Don't be the guy," Childress said Monday, as in: Don't be the guy who gets arrested and embarrasses the organization. Or, in the case of the Vikings last season, Don't be the guy who flies in a bunch of strippers and gets, uh, disorderly on a cruise boat while playing cards and "accidentally" turning off the lights.

After a grueling preseason regimen and five exhausting games that have been decided in the final minutes, Childress has given his players near-maximum time off this week. They watched film Monday and must report for conditioning this morning, but then don't have to return until next Monday.

But for a franchise still rattled by the mother of all off-field incidents -- which came, of course, during the Vikings' 2005 bye -- this year's free time is fraught with its own risks. Many players will return to their hometowns or take quick vacations, away from the structure of a typical football game week. Will they relax or find trouble?

"Don't worry about it," defensive tackle Pat Williams said. "We've come a long way. Guys have gotten a lot smarter around here. Everybody is smarter. Nobody is going to be 'The Guy' this week. Everybody is going to take care of their business.

"What happened last year, that's all behind us. We're just looking forward. That was last year. This is a whole different year with a whole different coaching staff. Everybody is focused a lot more. It's a lot better."

Childress has dealt with at least three incidents, of varying degree, since taking the Vikings job in January. He challenged most interpretations of the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement to release receiver Koren Robinson, who was arrested in August for drunken driving and felony fleeing of police.

Childress issued a one-game suspension to safety Dwight Smith, who received a police citation for indecent conduct in a Minneapolis stairwell, and benched cornerback Fred Smoot for one series Sept. 24 against Chicago for a minor disciplinary infraction.

This week, however, Childress will rely on his players' good judgment. After all, an arduous bye-week schedule does not necessarily guarantee good behavior. Former coach Mike Tice called for practices last year on the Monday, Thursday and Friday of his bye week -- never giving players more than three nights away from Winter Park.

Players scheduled the infamous boat cruise, however, to follow the Thursday practice, encouraging maximum attendance.

"I don't think this team will have any reoccurrences of what happened last year," safety Darren Sharper said. "We just need to be mindful of what happened, to be smart, and that's pretty much what we need to do."

Discipline aside, Childress said his players need and deserve extended time away rather than a week's worth of practice.

"I just don't believe with the length of the season," Childress said, "that you beat up the players or you beat up the coaches. You need to go for [freshness] here over the long haul. They have been at it here for nine or 10 weeks [since training camp]. Physically and mentally, it has been grueling. I think the important things is they get healthy mentally and they get healthy physically."

To a man, players were welcoming the gesture Monday. Williams, a 10-year veteran, said he never had received so much time off during a bye.

"It says that everybody here is doing what they're supposed to be doing," Williams said. "[Childress] respects what we are doing, and we respect what he is doing. We work hard for him every day. We don't question what he tells us. We don't question what he does. We just go out there and do it. So he's just returning the favor. He told us that."

Childress said he will make certain that players "don't sit on the sofa for four or five days" by scheduling the weigh-in Monday morning.

"That's always a tell-tale [sign]," he said. "You can't sit and eat bonbons on the couch."

Well, there are worse things ...

Kevin Seifert • kseifert@startribune.com

10-10-2006, 06:18 AM
Posted on Tue, Oct. 10, 2006

Party time? Not this week (http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/football/15719556.htm)

Players to spend free time resting, relaxing — quietly

Pioneer Press

The Vikings are prepared to break a bye week tradition.

"There's no party being arranged," defensive end Kenechi Udeze said. "Nothing is going to happen like that again. People don't have to worry about a party being blown out of proportion. There's no party.

"We're just all going to go home and get some rest."

Over the past two years during their bye week, the Vikings organized parties that featured strippers.

In 2004, after dinner at a Mall of America restaurant, numerous players headed to an Eden Prairie hotel for an after-party. Last year, the party was on two boats owned by Al and Alma's on Lake Minnetonka.

After the Vikings' 26-17 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, coach Brad Childress warned his players to behave during their time off and reminded them that they are under a microscope because of past transgressions.

"We always talk about that," Childress said. "We talk about doing the right thing. My reference (Sunday) was no different than it ever is. 'Don't be the guy.' "

Childress did not mention a consequence. One wasn't necessary.

"He's laid the groundwork, so now we understand what he wants and what he expects from us," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "He don't have to say anything about last year."

Added safety Darren Sharper: "Guys would not be too smart to do something. I don't think we'll have any issues."

The players are dispersing this morning after a mandatory weightlifting session at Winter Park.

• Sharper is going to an undisclosed beach.

• Udeze is returning to his offseason home in Los Angeles, where he plans to relax.

• Defensive tackle Pat Williams is going to "do nothing" in his hometown of Monroe, La.

• Left tackle Bryant McKinnie is finalizing the decoration of his new Miami house, with an assist from his mother.

• Backup center Jason Whittle is flying to Missouri, where his grandfather is having surgery.

• Smoot will spend time with his daughter in Mississippi.

• Receiver Marcus Robinson will have his jersey retired at Peach County High School in Fort Valley, Ga.

But many players aren't going anywhere, including linebacker Ben Leber and center Matt Birk.

Asked what he's going to do, Birk said, "As little as possible."

"Just chase my kids and try to log as much time on my couch as I can," he said.

Added Leber on why he's staying in the Twin Cities: "Flying around makes me too tired."

The players realize the significance of being on their best behavior this week. The entire organization was tarnished by last year's boat party scandal. During the offseason, Smoot and McKinnie pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the party a year ago. Each agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 48 hours of community service.

"We got to stay out of trouble," Williams said. "We don't want anything negative. If you do something negative, it'll bring the whole organization down, and we don't need that."

Asked if he's mindful of his actions this week, McKinnie said, "That was just some foolishness. It's not like I'm someone who always gets in trouble."

Added Smoot, "Point blank, everybody has to take ownership for what they do, and that's something we preached since coach got here."

Smoot is on a players committee Childress put together during the offseason. But Smoot said the committee would not try to monitor the activities of the team.

"We're grown men," he said. "We don't have to check on nobody. Everybody got the message, and everybody knows what they got to do."

Robinson, for one, isn't so sure Childress should be accountable for the misdeeds of his players.

"If guys want to go out and do some things," Robinson said, "Coach can't control that."

But Robinson said he has noticed teammates talking about the wrath others around the NFL have endured for off-field antics.

"They see how the news portrays things... so guys are paying attention to that," he said.

Smoot said players could use a break after enduring a training camp under Childress that was more physically demanding than under previous coaching regimes.

"I think everyone needs this, physically and mentally," he said. "It's important to get football out of your mind (this week). I think coach has a good plan. He's letting us come back refreshed and get ready for this 11-game run and get into the playoffs."

Childress wants his players to recuperate, but he doesn't want them relaxing too much.

"You can't sit and eat bonbons on the couch, you know," he said.

To that end, Childress said players would have to weigh in when they report back to work next Monday.

"Enjoy the time off," Sharper said. "But we need to come back and get rolling. We got the meat of our schedule and some tough games" coming up.

Sean Jensen can be reached at sjensen@pioneerpress.com.

10-16-2006, 07:11 AM
Vikings don't want spotlight (http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061016/SPORTS/610160336/1002)

Associated Press
PUBLISHED: October 16, 2006

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Maybe, just maybe, the entire Minnesota Vikings team has learned from the recent sordid past.

"Guys would have to be pretty much stuck on stupid to get in trouble after the bye week we had last year," safety Darren Sharper said. "You can pretty much guarantee there won't be the same instances."

The break in last season's schedule brought more negative publicity than ever to an organization that has seen plenty of it.

Taking their annual party for new players to unparalleled levels of lewdness, dozens of Vikings organized an outing on a pair of boats to cruise Lake Minnetonka on a crisp, October evening, without the worry of a game to play that weekend. And the night devolved into pure debauchery, at least for a handful of the guys.

The appalled owners of the charter complained to the police of intimidation, drunkenness, nudity and visible sexual activity. The story was plastered all over the news. Three players, including current starters cornerback Fred Smoot and left tackle Bryant McKinnie, were ultimately charged with three misdemeanors apiece. Soon after, owner Zygi Wilf put his stamp of approval on an updated code of conduct for all employees, a telling sign even though the document was in the works prior to the sultry soiree.

Though they rebounded from a rough start on the field and finished with a winning record, last year's Vikings were essentially a national joke - providing the punch line to all sorts of cracks about building team camaraderie and, uh, finding ways to score.

This time, they're insistent: No more knuckleheaded behavior, as coach Brad Childress reminded them once again following last Sunday's victory over Detroit.

"Don't be the guy," Childress warned.

He's already had to deal with two of those "guys" this summer.

Receiver Koren Robinson, since released, was arrested and charged with drunken and reckless driving. Safety Dwight Smith, a starter, was cited shortly after that for indecent conduct with a woman in a stairwell outside a downtown night club.

Perhaps these were just get-it-out-their-system mishaps.

"There's not going to be any parties this year," defensive end Kenechi Udeze said. "That's a good thing. That's the last thing we need right now. We need to be worried about being a good team."

They're close to being just that, despite an offense that has single-handedly cured insomnia in the entire state of Minnesota.

In a change that still takes some getting used to for anyone who has followed the purple over the past decade, the defense has been dominant. It's a major reason the Vikings took a 3-2 record into this bye week, and it's been tough enough to overcome an offense that has managed only four touchdowns in five games.

"They've stepped up when our offense has been down, and that's what they have to do," said Chester Taylor, one bright spot who is fourth in the NFL with 421 yards rushing. "It's a team game, and our offense needs to match them. They have picked up us a lot lately."

Against the Lions, the defense scored on an interception return and a recovered fumble.

"It's definitely more fun to see the splash plays and see the highlights on SportsCenter," linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "We're having a good time right now."

He meant on the field, of course. This week, it's all about reading a good book and relaxing in the living room. Except not so much relaxation that they report back to Winter Park out of shape.

"They've got to weigh in," Childress said. "That's always a telltale. You can't sit and eat bonbons on the couch, you know."

Not with undefeated Chicago threatening to run away with the NFC North. The Bears, actually, could easily have been beaten by Minnesota in Week 3, but a botched handoff put the ball on the turf late in the game and led to a comeback win for the division leaders at the Metrodome.

Tough losses like that, plus an intense training camp and months and months of learning new systems on both sides of the ball, told the coach that time off was the best option this week.

"I just don't believe with the length of this season that you beat up the players or you beat up the coaches," Childress said. "You need to go for the fresh here over the long haul. They have been at it here for nine or 10 weeks. Physically and mentally it has been grueling."

After a mandatory weightlifting session on Tuesday morning, players were given off until Monday unless otherwise required to rehabilitate an injury. Many of them planned to head to their respective hometowns and hang out with friends and family.

It's a bit harder to plan a boat party when everybody's scattered about.

"It's just not worth it, anyway," defensive end Darrion Scott said. "We're fortunate enough to play football, making a lot of money doing what we love to do. You just don't want to mess it up."

AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this story.

AP-WS-10-14-06 1217EDT

10-16-2006, 07:47 PM
Well good for the vikings, afterall maybe childress has installed some discipline, but it shouldnt take a boat scandal for them to learn.

10-16-2006, 07:52 PM
"It's just not worth it, anyway," defensive end Darrion Scott said. "We're fortunate enough to play football, making a lot of money doing what we love to do. You just don't want to mess it up."

I'm glad they figured out it's not worth getting in trouble...but rich or poor you still can be a jcka$$, do something stupid.

10-16-2006, 08:21 PM
Vikings: More time off granted with a warning: Behave

Isn't this how PP.O will be in the future?

10-16-2006, 09:29 PM
"ultravikingfan" wrote:

Vikings: More time off granted with a warning: Behave

Isn't this how PP.O will be in the future?


No, It's more like "Behave or you'll have more time off in the future"

It must be driving the press nuts that they haven't had any negative players issues to write about. I wonder if Childress has them all locked up somewhere.

10-17-2006, 07:08 AM
Vikings back after seemingly quiet bye week (http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=139059)