Troy Williamson had a bad 2007 with the Vikings. Not only did he cement his status as a major bust, but he also went through that whole unpleasantness with his grandma dying, and him getting fined for not telling the team he was going to be late getting back from the funeral. The team ended up rescinding said fine, but only after taking a major PR hit. Brad Childress‘s perceived callousness over the whole affair did nothing for his image either among the fans or in the locker room – in fact, safety Dwight Smith suggested some players actually used it as motivation. Not surprisingly, Smith and Williamson are no longer members of the Vikings. Smith has moved on to Detroit (where he hasn’t been playing because of injury), while Williamson has landed in Jacksonville with his old coach, Mike Tice. And has Troy himself gotten over his turbulent final year in Minnesota? Not nearly. In a conference call this morning, Troy made his lingering hurt feelings clear (via the Star-Tribune). He was asked if the Grandmagate flap was the moment he knew his days in Minnesota were numbered. He replied:
"You can truly say that. After that, I had no more respect for Childress. That’s gone out the window and I don’t see that coming back ever. That bridge is burned.It just got bad. I knew it was time for me to go. It was just a bunch of personal stuff on my end that he wouldn’t let me handle.I ain’t going to try to dig it back up because I can really, really go at coach Childress, but I’m not going to do it."
Yeah – I’m sure Chilly is losing sleep knowing Troy doesn’t respect him. Not that I’m defending what Chilly and the organization did – it was heartless to fine a man under those circumstances. I realize a rule was broken, but there are ways of handling that sort of thing without making yourself look like an asshole. You take the man aside and explain to him why you have to punish him, then put the fine off until after the season or some time when there won’t be so much bad publicity over it. The tone-deafness demonstrated by Childress and Zygi Wilf in that situation was really stunning.
That being said…I find Williamson’s lingering bitterness a bit annoying as well. Sure, he has a right to feel he was treated unfairly in Grandmagate – but what about everything else that went down during his ill-fated Vikings tenure? This organization showed a lot of patience with him in spite of his ineptitude. And Childress wasn’t the one who drafted him – Troy’s failure was not a personal matter for Chilly, who I’m sure would’ve preferred to cut him and move on. Of course, the team invested a lot of money in Troy – he was drafted #7 overall; and that was most of why the team kept working with him even after it became apparent he was never going to amount to anything. The fact is, the team showed a great commitment to Williamson, and Williamson never got any better. He worked, he practiced, he did everything he was told – and he still sucked. And when the team decided to move on, they were nice enough to trade him to a place where he’d get a chance to stick. His bitterness at Childress frankly smacks of ingratitude.
Unfortunately for Troy and the Vikings, the situation was doomed from the beginning. He never should’ve been drafted as high as he was. The team never should’ve tried picking Randy Moss‘s replacement out of the draft, because whoever that guy ended up being was going to have an absurd amount of pressure on him. Troy proved pretty fast that he wasn’t up to the challenge. The bigger the situation became, the more he crumbled. So now he’s in a place where no one expects anything of him – which is good, because he’s not giving them anything. He’s played 5 games this year, caught 4 balls and scored 1 touchdown. Those who worried he’d go to Jacksonville and tear it up and make us look stupid – you needn’t have. The team was wrong when they assessed him to be a top 10 talent. They were right when they finally gave in to reality and got rid of him. Childress looked petty for the way he handled the fine last year, but Williamson looks just as petty for still being angry about it.
Update: Some more quotes have come out from Troy Williamson about Chilly. In one, Troy says he wants to settle their differences with fists. “We can meet on the 50-yard line and we can go at it,” Williamson said. I hope he was joking. And I hope Childress is smart enough not to respond.
Oh wait…too late – Chilly already responded. “He must not be aware there’s a buffer zone between the opponents,” the coach said in reply to his former player declaring he wanted to throw down on him. Then Chilly tried to inject levity into the situation, saying, “Do you need my reach? I’m not like a woman; I’ll give you my weight. It’s 190 pounds of twisted steel and rompin’, stompin’ dynamite. Is that enough humor for you?” Okay, he wants to laugh it off, but I’m guessing he’s irritated. I just wish he hadn’t said anything. Take the high road Chill. Have we learned nothing from Dennis Green?