The Vikings broke camp today and headed off to Tennessee where on Saturday they will begin the 2011 preseason with a match-up against the dreaded Titans. Let’s take a moment to reminisce about the ten things that made the Vikings’ 2011 training camp so extra-memorable (we better do it fast before we forget them):
10. Marcell Gipson’s Departure
Cornerback Marcell Gipson left camp early to “deal with a family situation.” We later learned the family situation was the death of his grandmother and he wasn’t coming back to camp, instead choosing to seek a non-football job to help out his family. This would’ve drawn a fine from Brad Childress, but things have changed under Leslie Frazier, who talked the matter over with Gipson and decided to cut him, not to be mean but because waiving him instead of putting him on the non-football list allows the Vikings to re-sign Gipson later in the year if he changes his mind. Aww, warm and fuzzy.
9. Judd Zulgad’s Crappy Camera
Judd Zulgad must make a fair amount of money writing and talking on the radio, so how come he can’t afford a camera phone that takes better pictures than this?
8. Visanthe Shiancoe Pulls His Hammy
Camp always sees its fair share of injuries and this year was no exception. Thankfully the Vikings avoided any major dings to major players, but they did see one important offensive starter go down: Visanthe Shiancoe suffered a hamstring pull and will be kept out of the first preseason game. The Vikings are saying the same thing teams always say about pulled hammies: They don’t think it’s serious but they’re going to be careful with it anyway. One day science will have to invent replaceable hammies. And bacon you can cook just by looking at it. I want some of that.
7. Huge Crowds
45,000 people attended Vikings camp in Mankato this year including nearly 10,000 for the Saturday night practice that included fireworks. The crowd was so big on Saturday, Adrian Peterson said he thought a college game was going on. Speaking of Adrian…
6. Adrian Peterson’s Non Hold Out
There was some concern before camp that Adrian might hold out, seeking a contract extension with insane guaranteed money north of what DeAngelo Williams got. That turned out to be an unfounded fear. Adrian did show up, and was his usual full-throttle self. Of course, he did end up having to miss a few days of work, but that was for a good reason: His wife gave birth. Under Chilly staying away for the birth of a child would’ve brought a fine, but as I indicated before, these are the new warm, fuzzy Vikings. Grandmothers and babies are no longer hated.
5. They Let Bloggers In!
For the first time ever, independent bloggers were allowed into a couple days of camp as credentialed members of the media. Thankfully none of these bloggers did anything embarrassing like try to hump Adrian Peterson’s leg or get drunk and attack Bernard Berrian with a screwdriver. The blogging revolution continues, and eventually it will sweep away the entire mainstream media, destroying true journalism and leaving behind a wasteland of unfounded opinion, insane conjecture and lunatic raving. How do I know this will happen? Cause Buzz Bissinger told me so.
4. Jared Allen Owning Charlie Johnson
Charlie Johnson was installed as the #1 left tackle in place of Bryant McKinnie (more on him later) and immediately began getting burned by Jared Allen. People could live with this – Jared is All-Pro after all – but then it got worse when Charlie started getting burned by everyone including Everson Griffen and rookie D’Aundre Reed. By the end of camp, random old ladies were coming out of the stands to burn Charlie Johnson in one-on-one drills. Charlie Johnson got burned so many times this camp he now looks like one of my steaks. Instead of pads and a uniform maybe Charlie should just smear some sunscreen on himself. I haven’t seen a man get burned this bad since the Temple of Doom. But it’s only camp so there’s no reason to be concerned.
3. Stephen Burton’s Boner
No single camp practice play got more coverage than the moment rookie wide-out Stephen Burton came out of nowhere to bat a ball away from a fellow receiver during a Hail Mary drill. Judging by George Stewart and Leslie Frazier’s reactions to the crazy gaffe, I’m surprised Burton wasn’t cut right then and there. I truly hope Burton catches on in the NFL and does something good, cause it would be a real shame if this boner ended up being the “highlight” of his career.
2. Donovan McNabb’s Arrival
Donovan McNabb rolled into camp and within minutes was starring in comedy routines with Chris Kluwe. Yes, you heard me right fans: A Vikings starting quarterback showed up for camp. Contrary to what you’ve heard, there is no rule against that. Of course because of the CBA stuff Donovan was not allowed to practice right away, but was instead forced to stand on the field holding his helmet. Beat reporters breathlessly gave us every detail of Donovan standing waiting to hear that he could begin participating in drills. There hasn’t been such dramatic reporting since the Battle of Britain. I heard Tom Pelissero sprained his tweeting thumb.
1. Bryant McKinnie Getting Cut
The man affectionately known as That Fat Pile of Crap McKinnie showed up for camp at least 50 pounds overweight and boasting a cholesterol number high enough to give even Dick Cheney pause. After two days of off-to-the-side conditioning work mostly involving standing there looking incredibly fat and sweaty, McKinnie was finally told to just go home without any of his $4.9 million salary. McKinnie responded to his abrupt departure from the Vikings after 9 years by calling TMZ and claiming he’d asked for his release. He then got into some fights with his Twitter followers in which he claimed he wasn’t out-of-shape, and no one could prove he was because there were no pictures. Later, McKinnie’s agent Drew Rosenhaus sent an email to all 32 NFL teams saying McKinnie would gladly come back for $2.5 million for one year plus “reasonable incentives” and a crapload of pizza. So far no one has taken McKinnie up on his offer. The Vikings will press forward with Charlie Johnson at left tackle.