Do the Vikings Hate Dead Grandmas?


There is now officially a national furor over the Vikings‘ decision to dock Troy Williamson a game check for leaving the team to attend to his grandmother’s funeral arrangements. I know because I was watching PTI’s Big Finish yesterday, and when Bob Ryan started talking about it, I thought pink puke was going to start flying from every hole in his old mummy-looking head.

The general consensus seems to be that the Vikings acted like a bunch of heartless corporate jag-offs by handling the situation the way they did. ESPN’s Mark Kreidler said it this way:

"[The Vikings are] currently running cheap, heartless and long-term-ignorant on the fan-o-meter, and to put it in a more direct business perspective, that crackling sound in the background is the free-agent market drying up ever so slowly around the Twin Cities as NFL players ask one another, “You hear about what the Vikings did to Troy?”"

Somehow I think that if the Vikings wave enough money in front of guys’ faces, they’re going to see their way clear to forgetting about the horrible injustice done to Troy. Still, one has to admit – the Vikings have taken a hit to their reputation in the last week. And it didn’t help matters for Brad Childress to dismiss the whole thing as “a business principle.” Yeah Brad, you’re one warm and fuzzy guy, aren’t you?

ProFootballTalk, your official home of dire predictions that almost never come to fruition, has now raised the possibility of a full-on mutiny against chilly Childress. Said PFT:

"The [decision to dock Williamson], as we hear it, is pushing some veteran [Viking] players — and some members of the coaching staff — toward a revolt against Childress.Even before the widely-criticized decision to withhold $25,000 and change from Williamson, there were strong signs of discontent. Presiding over a struggling offense and meddling (as we’re told) with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier‘s work has made Childress a target for quiet (to date) hostility.The thinking is that the Williamson debacle could create major problems for Childress, unless the decision to take Williamson’s game check is quickly reversed."

I have to wonder: how much negative energy is actually being directed at Chilly inside the organization right now? And is it warranted? Was docking Williamson even up to Chilly? Are we seeing the next logical step in the process of Chilly-rejection that seemed to begin last year when he booted Marcus Robinson for getting snippy with him, then claimed publicly that Marcus no longer had the “skills and abilities” to play in the Kick-Ass Offense?

I’m intrigued by the PFT claim that Childress has been “meddling” with the defense. Because, on the surface, it has looked in the past like the defense was plagued by the same tentativeness and playing-not-to-lose attitude that has also hampered the offense. Then, against the Chargers, the defense suddenly became much more aggressive, and played its best game of the year. Could it be that Childress’s overall approach, one geared toward not making mistakes rather than attacking, is really starting to wear on not only the players but the other coaches?

And then we return to the Williamson mess. Troy himself has handled it gracefully – has stayed on the high-road, as Denny Green might say. Williamson said to reporters:

"I know it’s a business and I know [the Vikings have] got other obligations when it comes to them and their family also. … I know how I feel towards mine. … I feel like I wouldn’t have been overdoing it if I had stayed home a little longer but you’ve got other people and their opinions."

It’s hard not to take Troy’s side in this. His grandmother, who was really more like his mother, dies and he leaves to plan the funeral and take care of things. And at the same time he has a brother who’s in a coma after a car wreck. The Vikings are not going to win the PR war in this – not against dead grandmas and comatose siblings, and not with Williamson staying above the fray. It should’ve been obvious to the team from the beginning that they had no chance to come off looking like anything other than a bunch of soulless jerks for docking Troy a paycheck – but bad planning is sort of par-for-the-course for this group.

The bottom line is that the Vikings would’ve been better off just letting Troy slide. There’s no point further antagonizing veteran players who are already cheesed at you, and there’s really no point in exacerbating the general perception that certain folks on the team are not the warmest, most people-friendly individuals in the world. Maybe this will hurt the team in trying to sign free-agents and maybe it won’t. Maybe it strikes a blow against the team’s attempts to get a new stadium built. What it does do, for sure, is sour the fun, hopeful season Adrian Peterson has been making 2007 feel like.