In an interview last night on ESPN Radio, Bryant McKinnie once again gave his side of the story on how his release from Minnesota went down. The entire interview is here if you care to hear it. The pertinent bit, from our point-of-view, is where he talks about what really happened those few days between reporting for camp overweight and being cut by the Vikings. Interestingly, McKinnie claims the Vikings’ cap issues played as much of a part in the decision as his poor conditioning. McKinnie told the ESPN stooge:
Minnesota, it was honestly more of a numbers game about having their salary cap in a certain point by that Thursday, which really wasn’t mentioned too much. But that’s what it really was about, restructuring my contract and me and my agent didn’t really agree with it. That wasn’t mentioned too much. That’s what it really was about. So we chose for me to be released.
The Vikings, as far as I know, have never made mention of asking McKinnie to restructure his deal. It’s possible that happened, but if so, McKinnie is the only one talking about it.
Our understanding of events from the Vikings’ side of things is that, quite simply, McKinnie showed up out-of-shape and they didn’t think they could afford to wait for him to get back in shape, so they cut him. McKinnie has previously tried to deny being woefully overweight the day he reported to camp but now he appears to have ditched that approach and is instead admitting he was too heavy. However, McKinnie claims that despite his weight he was not as out-of-shape as the Vikings claim, and in fact never received a fair opportunity to demonstrate his level of conditioning.
Honestly, we never took any conditioning tests and the two days I was there, we had two walk-through [practices]. So I wasn’t able to do anything. I never participated in anything. We didn’t have a conditioning test, and [then] just a walk-through. So there was nothing to determine where my conditioning really was. I did come in heavier than I normally have. But I was still training … Another thing that came up, but I’ve already had this issue, was high cholesterol. That’s something I take medicine for anyway.
The high cholesterol was underlined by Leslie Frazier as a big reason why the Vikings elected to first keep McKinnie out of practice then let him go entirely. If it’s true the Vikings knew about this condition beforehand and knew that McKinnie was taking medication for it, then it seems McKinnie has a valid reason to be befuddled that it would suddenly become a problem.
The problem for McKinnie is that, no matter how much of a gripe he may have, people are never going to believe his side of the story, because quite simply he has no credibility. That’s what happens when you spend years doing dumb things like getting in fights in gas stations, receiving sexual favors in full view of wait staff on chartered boats, hitting bouncers over the head with metal posts and getting thrown off the Pro Bowl team for not wanting to practice…and making excuses for all said transgressions, excuses that strain credulity.
Maybe it’s true that the Vikings would’ve kept McKinnie under a restructured contract. They did have cap issues, and cutting McKinnie did give them some relief from those cap issues. But are we to believe the Vikings would jettison a tackle of McKinnie’s caliber – good but not great – and leave themselves in the dire offensive line situation they’re presently facing simply to save a few million bucks?
I’m certain the Vikings could’ve found a way to get under the cap even without reducing or eliminating McKinnie’s salary, which wasn’t astronomically huge. They might have cut Bernard Berrian for instance, or let a few guys like Greg Camarillo and Anthony Herrera go. The point here is, if the Vikings needed to get under the cap so badly, there were several players they could’ve parted with who were less vital to their plans than McKinnie.
Until someone steps forward to corroborate McKinnie’s version of events, I’m going to believe the Vikings dumped him because he was too out-of-shape to play. At any rate that is all over and done with. The Vikings have chosen to move forward with Charlie Johnson at left tackle, and McKinnie has his new job with the Ravens. The book can finally be closed on McKinnie’s checkered career as a Viking.