Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Brett Favre

Did you hear? The Vikings’ offseason in 50 quotes

Posted by: Updated: July 23, 2012 - 7:35 AM

The Vikings will report to training camp Thursday at Minnesota State University in Mankato, the official beginning to the 2012 preseason. And just to bring you up to speed with everything that’s happened since the final snap of the 2011 season, here are 50 quotes to sum up the action since New Year’s Day.

****

“In departing this locker room, I just expressed my appreciation for the fight our guys showed throughout the year. With as difficult as this season has been and with the number of close losses we’ve had, [it was encouraging] for them to show the resolve they have shown.” – Head coach Leslie Frazier on Jan. 1 after a 17-13 home loss to the Bears gave the Vikings a 3-13 record for the 2011 season

“It's an exciting day. It really is. 2011-12 is over. It was miserable record-wise, so I'm glad it's over. We can start building for the future now.” – Defensive end Jared Allen on Jan. 2, as the Vikings closed the books on 2011 and headed into the offseason

“Relieved. We can finally close this book up and throw it in the trash.” – Receiver Percy Harvin, echoing Allen’s sentiments

“Our ownership, our head coach, our coaching staff, all the people involved in this decision process will get a voice to say what they think. The difference will be when we make our personnel decisions and when we go forward I will have the final authority on what that decision is going to be.” – Rick Spielman, upon being promoted from vice president of player personnel to general manager

“The general manager's role allows the franchise to look at goals in a more longer-term vision. Because they realize that the long term puts the franchise on solid footing. I think that's the major aspect of having this structure; it's for the franchise to really give long-term stability to this organization.” – Owner Zygi Wilf, explaining Spielman’s promotion

"I’m a position coach. I’m not a coordinator. I’m not a head coach. When I look at what I did with the Minnesota Vikings, my piece of the puzzle was to make the defensive line play as well as they could. We played well against the run. I think we finished No. 11 against the run. And we finished No. 1 in sacks. And the guy I coached led the league in sacks with 22 on a team that really didn’t have a lead the last eight games of the year. So I thought that was my piece of the puzzle. I can’t worry about running backs, defensive backs, receivers, linebackers. When you do it, you focus on your job, put your piece of the puzzle in and go from there." – Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, reacting after he was fired from the coaching staff in early January

“I would think what I do best is to be able to develop a young player and have him at a winning level early in his career. And when I say early, I mean in the first part of his career, the first year. … What I did in Indianapolis was I developed the young players so that when a veteran was out, a young player could hold down the fort and play winning football until that veteran, until the starter came back.” – Alan Williams, hired to be the Vikings’ new defensive coordinator after 10 years as a defensive backs coach In Indianapolis

“In 2012, as we’re putting this together, I really want to be involved in what we’re doing and how we’re playing things. I really want to make sure we’re headed in the right direction … I don’t want to say I want to take [the defense] over, now. I don’t want to do that. I don’t think it would serve me very well to immerse myself to the point where I can’t oversee some of the things I need to see.” – Frazier, immediately after Williams’ hiring, acknowledging his desire to have a hand in how things are run

“He’s a fiery guy. I like that about him. He’s going to get after our butts. He gets really excited. Some coaches might be more reserved. But he’ll get really fired up when you make a good play or even a bad play. That’ll be a different element that will hopefully be good for us.” – Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, on the hiring of Brendan Daly to be the new defensive line coach. Daly had previous been an assistant d-line coach for the Vikings from 2006-08

“The fact that we get a chance to get our hands on the players is huge. We get to talk with them, spend time with them, eat in the cafeteria with them, talk to them about their lifestyle. It will be immeasurable the time that we’ll be able to be around them and be able to evaluate these players.” – Frazier, on the Vikings’ opportunity to coach the North squad at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. There the Vikings worked closely with safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Audie Cole, players they drafted in April.

****

“Christian’s going to get there. It’s a process. He’s going to have some highs, he’s going to have some lows. But as a quarterback you have to learn how to handle success and lack of success. And that’s how your true grit is going to be determined. And when you have a lack of success early – even Peyton Manning had some – and people say, ‘Well, all you do is throw interceptions,’ well Peyton learned to quit throwing interceptions. That’s part of the process. Every guy comes with a different time on their maturation process. And the teams around them are different.” – Quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson on the need for quarterback Christian Ponder to take a big step forward in his second season

“The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for performance, but also for injuring opposing players. The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity. It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated." -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, dropping the bombshell that a league investigation turned up an organized bounty program within the Saints organization. The investigation also revealed that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was allegedly a target during the NFC Championship game in 2010.

“This is troubling to me as a human being. Football is a violent game. Guys get hurt all the time. But you want to be out there with the comfort that other guys aren’t purposely out trying to injure you. At that point, you’re not safe.” – Punter Chris Kluwe, on the revelations of the Saints’ bounty program

"There needs to be strong punishment any time a coach or a player thinks they can take someone else's career into their own hands and purposely do something that could end it. We all play hard. But to give bonuses for carting someone off the field? Man, that's just wrong. There's no place for that in the NFL, and I think it's now safe to say you won't be hearing about bounties in the NFL ever again." – Allen, responding to Goodell’s crackdown on the Saints in response to the discovered bounty program

“The only thing bigger is being in God’s kingdom. I’ll tell you that I’m totally blown away by this and just so humbled by it.” – Former Vikings star Chris Doleman, on being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February

“Is the left tackle that important or is it more important to have playmakers on offense? Because when your quarterback evolves, he learns the system, he gets the ball out of his hand quicker and all of a sudden that left tackle doesn’t need to be a Pro Bowl left tackle. He can be a functional left tackle … That’s the burning bush question. Is it more important to get a left tackle or is it more important to get the playmakers around [Ponder]?” – Spielman, when asked at the combine to assess his interest in Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil

“You’ve got to really weigh your options. Because the philosophy [in the NFL] has always been to get the game-changer. And left tackle is not necessarily the game-changer. Usually game-changers are the guys who
can score you points. Receivers. Quarterbacks. So what are we measuring that left tackle against? It’s a loaded debate.” – Frazier, also assessing the worth of Kalil as the Vikings considered their options with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft

“Watching my film and going back, there are so many blatantly dumb mistakes that are easily correctable. That’s the kind of thing that makes me excited about next year, realizing how easy it is to change certain things. It’s just going to make me a lot better and put our team in a much better position to be successful.” – Ponder, assessing his rookie year struggles

"It was a tough decision as we move forward and prepare for the upcoming season and the future of our organization. All three individuals have meant a great deal to the Vikings organization both on and off field over the years. We wish all of them the best and thank them for their service to the Minnesota Vikings." – Frazier, commenting on the release of veterans Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera and Cedric Griffin, the initial roster transactions that set the Vikings’ youth movement in motion.

“Adversity introduces a man to himself. This was definitely an adverse situation and I learned a lot about myself. I control my destiny. My actions control who I am and what I become in the future.” – Cornerback Chris Cook in March, immediately after he was acquitted of all charges in his felony domestic assault trial

***

“We have thoroughly considered Chris’ situation and how he has approached this matter. We will meet with Chris in the near future and believe he deserves the opportunity to rejoin our organization.” – Statement from the Vikings on Cook’s acquittal

“This got his attention. As hard as it was that period of time, I told him if he handles it the right way, it can be a turning point in his life. Yet, we’ll see.” – Frazier, on welcoming Cook back into the mix

"I wouldn't have come back here if I didn't think the Vikings had a great thing going and a chance to be really special on the offensive side of the ball. That's something I want to be a part of.” – Tight end John Carlson, the Vikings’ biggest free agent acquisition this offseason

"Just give us time to put this roster together. We're not only putting it together for 2012. We're building this roster to be able to maintain it for over the next three to four to five years … I don't think we're a player or two away to go out and spend the money that's being spent on all those players that have gotten contracts early.” – Spielman, explaining the organization’s conservative approach in free agency

“We’re fully aware of what’s around the country in terms of stadiums around the league. We believe we have some of the best fans in the NFL. And we want them to have the kind of first-rate experience other cities have.” – Vikings owner Mark Wilf, speaking at the NFL owners meetings with pleas for the franchise to get full approval for a new stadium

“He’s just what the doctor ordered for the Viking offense. He’s an explosive guy who can really adjust and adapt to the football. And it’s really fun watching him after the catch, which is a skill he demonstrated for the whole league last year when he was with Cincinnati.” – Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, after the Vikings signed free agent receiver Jerome Simpson

“Everyone thinks you’re crazy if you don’t take the left tackle.” – Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, to Spielman at a press conference the week before the NFL Draft

“Maybe I am, Sid. Maybe I am.” – Spielman in response

“We saw [Kalil] as a guy who could be a Pro Bowler for a long time. That was obvious from our standpoint. Along with what we’re trying to do with our quarterback. We wanted to make sure we do the things that are necessary to ensure that he has success. This gives us a chance to take that step in that direction.” – Frazier, immediately after the Vikings drafted Kalil

***

“Going to Notre Dame and being a captain, you’re already on a big stage. Then once you’re the captain you’re getting scrutinized win or lose. There are ups and downs along the road. So I have dealt with being a leader of a team that’s gone through things. Knowing how to deal with guys and helping younger guys interact with the coaches, I think it’s just given me a whole lot of experience you can’t really find in any other role.” Safety Harrison Smith, after being drafted in the first round by the Vikings

“Our theme was getting smart, tough football players who love to play the game. And I think all these guys we were able to draft fit that bill.” – Spielman, after completing the draft with 10 new rookies added to the team

“I love Adrian. But let’s make this clear: I’m still not going to be quoted as saying he’s going to play in the first game. That’s not fair. I don’t know that … He’ll keep throwing that [Sept. 9 date] out there. And good for him. That’s great. That’s obviously our goal, to get him playing the first game. But only if he’s functionally safe to do it. This is our franchise. We can’t be foolish about this.” – Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, assessing Adrian Peterson’s rehab progress in May and the running back’s much-publicized goal to be back at full strength for Week 1

“With the experts, I’m sure 90 or 95 percent of the time, they’re right with their estimates. But there are some guys you can’t put the traditional timetable on. Some guys are different. I just happen to feel I’m one of those guys.” – Peterson, a day later, reiterating his vision of being back on the field and contributing in the 2012 season opener

“Attitude is critical with this. If you’re not really stable with who you are, an injury like this can be a huge blow to your ego. You’re the king of the hill, then all of a sudden – uh-oh. But Adrian? He’s been energetic since the day I met him.” – Russ Paine, Peterson’s Houston-based rehab therapist, asserting the keys to the rehab process

“It wasn’t anything like, ‘Aw, man. Here it goes.’ It was more of an ‘Alright, let’s go. Let’s get to work.’ … [I plan to work with Matt Kalil] quite a bit. You’re going to take time out. Again, it’s a new face. And along the offensive line, the whole thing is to work in synch and work together … My skill set is for playing football. I wouldn’t say that I have a skill set for guard or I have a skill set for tackle. I feel like I have a skill set to play offensive line and play football.” – Offensive lineman Charlie Johnson, expressing his willingness to move from left tackle to left guard following the Vikings’ addition of Kalil

“I don't think there's any question that if this doesn't get done this year, the league's standpoint is it starts back at Square 1 next year, And what's going to change? And if nothing is going to change, you are going to have political dynamics changing. You're going to have lots of different people nominating different sites ... These things cost millions and millions of dollars just to get it to this point. What would be the justification for doing it again on the part of the Vikings?" – Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president of business operations, expressing frustration and fears of what might happen if the Vikings push for a new stadium didn’t gain approval during the legislative session

“I think it’s time for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl. And we need a new stadium so we can do that here in Minneapolis.” – Ponder, speaking at the state capitol, as the Vikings’ stadium saga reached its critical stage

“If the thought is I'm going to support an inadequate bonding bill or a terrible tax policy approach in order to get a stadium, then we're going to have to sit down and rethink [things] -- by we, I mean the entire House." – State representative Terry Morrow, a leading Vikings stadium supporter, commenting on the political complications involved in the organization’s push for a new stadium.

"This is the time to get things done. I've been here several times on the stadium front over the years. In 2006, they moved forward with a stadium for the Twins and the Gophers. We were asked to move to the next year. And it's now 2012." – Goodell, on a visit to the Twin Cities in April to express his concerns for the obstacles the Vikings were facing in a push to get a new stadium

****

“We’re here to stay, guys. … We knew from Day One that we were going to fight in making sure that this day would come. Our commitment to having Minnesota Vikings football here for generations was always the overriding factor to making sure that got done. And I’m happy that everyone stepped forward to getting that done.” – Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, after the bill to get a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis was finalized and approved

“Uhhhh, I’m not familiar with names yet … When you go 3-13, it happens. This is a business and hopefully change will be good. We have a lot of young guys hungry to compete.” – Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, during the Vikings’ first week of organized team activities, assessing all the new faces around him in the secondary

“Anybody that witnessed that play today, you’ve got to get jacked up. That was an incredible play and one of the reasons we get excited about him. We’re hoping to see that on Sunday afternoons, plays like that.” – Frazier, during the second week of OTAs, reacting to a much-talked-about circus catch that Simpson made over Cook on a deep route up the right sideline

“I'll put it this way, it's a lot of different things that have to be sorted out. Just haven't been too happy lately. So we've got a couple things to work on." – Receiver Percy Harvin, delivering a surprise revelation at mini-camp that he was unhappy. Soon after, Harvin and his agent requested a trade

“You definitely don’t want to lose this guy … I’m sure the organization will do whatever it has to do to keep this guy around. If it was me, I would make sure we kept him around but we’ll see.” -- Peterson, reacting to Harvin’s discontent that he said was more bothersome than distracting

“The Minnesota Vikings have no interest at all in trading Percy Harvin. We drafted Percy Harvin here. He’s a key part of our organization, he’s a key part of our football team and any issues that are out there or reported, we always handle those internally and we’ll continue to handle those internally.” – Spielman, addressing Harvin’s unhappiness and his trade request

“The Vikings are aware of the situation and working to gather more detail. We will have no further comment at this time.” – Statement from the Vikings after it was learned in early July that Peterson had been arrested at a nightclub in Houston. The Vikings also had a near-identical version of that statement dusted off five weeks earlier when running back Jerome Felton was arrested and charged with driving while impaired. Five weeks before that running back Caleb King was arrested after allegedly fracturing another man’s skull in an assault outside of a party

“The officer told Peterson that he was under arrest, but Peterson began yelling, struggling as the officer attempted to put on handcuffs and ignoring commands to stop resisting, [according to Houston police spokesperson Kese Smith]. Peterson pulled away from the officer ‘and assumed a violent stance,’ Smith said. A second officer working security at the club began to assist, but it took a third police officer also working security to detain the 6-foot-1, 217-pound Peterson.” – excerpt from Star Tribune report documenting Peterson’s arrest with details from the Houston police

“’A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.’ WC” – Tweet from Peterson, quoting Winston Churchill, the day after his arrest.

“Adrian Peterson did not resist arrest this past Saturday morning and any suggestion that he pushed, struck or shoved a Houston Police Officer is a total fabrication. He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor.” – Rusty Hardin, Peterson’s high-powered attorney, issuing his first statement on his client’s arrest

“For me, you take excitement in the process. You look at the small steps and how things continue to build. And you have to acknowledge progress and show guys not only where they are but where they’re headed and where they’ve come from … You may not see all this from the outside. But internally you can see all this starting to come together. And that’s exciting. With the understanding that it takes time.” – Spielman, addressing his eagerness for training camp to begin in Mankato
 

Favre on '10 return to Vikings: 'The money was too good'

Posted by: Updated: July 20, 2012 - 9:54 AM

Brett Favre still has a way with words.

Nearly two years since Favre was persuaded into playing a second season with the Vikings – his return to Winter Park tracked by helicopters and blanketed with ultra-sensationalized coverage -- Favre took time recently to reflect on that 2010 chaos and the 6-10 season that followed.

Just a warning: some of what the legendary quarterback had to say probably isn’t going to sit well with Vikings’ fans.

Yes, Favre’s first season in Minnesota was magical. Remember that last-second 32-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Greg Lewis in Week 3? Remember those 12 regular-season victories and the playoff thrashing of Dallas? Remember how close the Vikings were to reaching Super Bowl XLIV before a handful of unfortunate twists resulted in a 31-28 NFC title game loss to the Saints?

Well, as magical as the Vikings’ 2009 run was, 2010 provided a boatload of frustrations. Those 10 losses. The 19 interceptions Favre threw. His 69.9 quarterback rating. The failed return of Randy Moss. The firing of coach Brad Childress. The roof collapse at Mall of America Field. And the nasty hit Favre took on the icy turf at TCF Bank Stadium that effectively ended his career.

In some ways, Favre confesses, he saw such struggles coming. In a one-on-one sitdown down with Deion Sanders that aired this week on the NFL Network, Favre offered a candid if somewhat bothersome explanation on why he felt compelled to play for the Vikings in 2010.

“First of all,” Favre said, “the money was too good. The money was too good. And I hate to say it’s about money. I felt the money was a lot. But the guys, I kind of felt like even though I knew it was going to be next to impossible [to duplicate the 2009 success] – I wouldn’t tell them [that]. Sidney [Rice], Jared [Allen], [Steve] Hutchinson and Adrian [Peterson], they were like, ‘Unfinished business.’ I just knew that it probably was finished.”

Favre recalled the visit he received at his Mississippi home in the middle of the preseason when Allen, Hutchinson and kicker Ryan Longwell showed up in Hattiesburg, to persuade him to make another run.

One of the first thoughts to run through Favre’s mind?

“I knew this wasn’t going to end well,” he told Sanders.

There’s more.

“No one ever talked about this is going to be hard to duplicate,” Favre said. “But I think we all [were thinking it].”

And so before anyone knew it, a 2010 season that was supposed to provide an energized encore to 2009’s thrill ride, sent the Vikings on a stumble from which they have still yet to right themselves.

Asked by Sanders if he has now found closure on his 20-year career, Favre nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “I probably knew when I got off the plane [in 2010]. I didn’t have to play a down. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t give my all. It just wasn’t to be, and I think I knew that. I really know it now.”

Rosenfels: Ponder may need to tone down his perfectionist ways

Posted by: Updated: June 8, 2012 - 9:17 AM

Sage Rosenfels was supposed to be the Vikings’ starting quarterback once. In 2009, it was all lining up for him to get his chance. But then Brett Favre had one last itch he needed to scratch and Rosenfels’ first tour of duty in Minnesota was non-descript. Back for a second stint now, Rosenfels is competing with Joe Webb to be the Vikings’ back-up. He’s also has had a chance to watch Christian Ponder’s offseason growth. We visited briefly with Rosenfels on Wednesday after the team’s OTA practice to get his breakdown of where Ponder is now and where he may be headed in his second season.

Here’s some of what Rosenfels had to say:

On Ponder’s strides since the end of last season …

“Every day and every rep that he gets out here, he’s getting more and more comfortable. His approach is the way it should be. It’s very professional and very serious. And he’s genuinely always looking to get better. That approach will help him out. And I've see him making strides these past few weeks. It’s all about being really comfortable. And when a quarterback is playing comfortable, your mind makes quicker decisions. He’s starting to do that."

On how a quarterback gets the comfort dial turned to the right notch ...

"It just takes reps. First you have to get really comfortable in practice. And you have to have a lot of reps to do that. And then in games, you’ll be a little bit more comfortable every time. Over the course of weeks into years, you get more and more comfortable. I’m sure the veterans in the league that have more than 100 starts, they rarely think about the crowd or other things. They’re just so into the game because there’s no real concern about all the other stuff. I think some younger guys can get concerned with the things that are going on that have no impact on the success of the game."

On why Ponder’s skillset has the Viking optimistic that he’s their franchise quarterback ...

"Like what everybody says, he’s athletic. He’s got a strong arm. He’s a smart guy. He’s eager to learn. He’s motivated. So he has those things. But it’s up to him to use those things to his advantage. So I do see him doing that. And we’ll see what happens as time goes on. But I’m optimistic seeing the way he works."

On Ponder’s biggest hurdle going forward ...

"The hurdle is to probably just clear your mind and do it. The NFL is a whole different world that you grew up thinking about. And there’s all this sort of buildup. And the key is to just go out there and do it and perform and not always worry about the consequences. I’ve seen him do it in practice. And then at some point, it’s going to need to carry over to the games. That’s all he has to do, to go out there and actually perform."

On Ponder’s admitted tendency to be his own worst critic …

"He’s a perfectionist. You can definitely tell that. And sometimes I tell him, you need to just hose it. Sometimes he maybe tries to be too perfect with a throw. And sometimes you just have to let it rip, let it go. The corners are quick in this game. So you can’t always try to make the perfect pass. Sometimes you’d rather have a little more juice on it. Those are the types of things that I sometimes try to get across to him. You want to be as perfect as you can, especially in the individual drill work. But at the end of the day, when the team stuff’s going on, you have to just play. Because the game’s not a perfect game. You wish it was."

On the challenge of getting out of your own head …

"You practice everything you do in the offseason and the beginning of practice is all about sort of being perfect. But once the team stuff goes on, it sort of becomes mass chaos. So it’s hard to stick entirely to your fundamentals. You still have to play the game There are different speeds to this. There’s the early practice [individual work] speed. There’s the 7-on-7 speed. There’s the practice team speed. And then there’s game speed. So there’s all these things that get a little more and more crazy. Yes, you have to stick to your fundamentals but also realize there’s a game going on too."

On the value of Ponder’s charisma …

"It’s really important that a quarterback doesn’t think of himself as any better than anyone else on the team. I think he has that approach and guys respect that. I think everyone has been around, whether it’s high school of college, a situation where the quarterback put himself first. I think Christian is always eager to hang out with the guys or the offensive lineman. Go out to dinner. Go fishing. He sees himself as one of the guys. Because he is. He has a lot to learn. And he’s really one of the young guys trying to fit in with the older guys."

Feeling defamed and slandered, Jonathan Vilma sues Roger Goodell

Posted by: Updated: May 17, 2012 - 4:15 PM

Was Jonathan Vilma really smack dab in the middle of the New Orleans Saints' bounty program? Before the NFC Championship game in January 2010, did Vilma really offer a cash reward of $10,000 to any teammate who was able to injure Vikings' quarterback Brett Favre?

For more than two months now, that's what the public has been led to believe, fed those above allegations by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. And Goodell took substantial punitive action May 2 when he suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season.

Now Vilma is fighting back. And not just with an appeal. He's going directly at Goodell and suing the NFL commissioner for a litany of, what he asserts, have been reckless accusations.

Vilma filed his lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court in Louisiana. A copy of the suit can be read here.

In a nutshell, this is Vilma's "Prove it" challenge to Goodell. All those allegations that have been circulating since early March? Vilma wants Goodell to reveal evidence and/or sources that corroborate what he claims to have found through an extensive investigation. The suit, itself, is fascinating. Represented by Peter R. Ginsberg Law, LLC and Williams Law Group, LLC, Vilma has accused Goodell of the following ...

  • Slander Per Se – Injury to Professional Reputation
  • Slander Per Se – Injury to Personal Reputation
  • Slander Per Se – Accusations of Criminal Conduct
  • Slander by Implication
  • Slander – Reckless Disregard/Malice
  • Libel Per Se – Injury to Professional Reputation
  • Libel Per Se – Injury to Personal Reputation
  • Libel Per Se – Accusations of Criminal Conduct
  • Libel By Implication
  • Libel – Reckless Disregard/Malice
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

For those who have not taken a communications law class, slander involves defamation by the spoken word. Libel involves defamation by the written word.

It would seem Vilma is most interested in hearing the commissioner's defense for all he has alleged so publicly to this point about the bounty scandal. Where's the concrete evidence? Who are the sources?

In a May 2 press release issued by Goodell to explain his punishment of Vilma and the other implicated Saints players, the commissioner claimed Vilma “assisted Coach [Gregg] Williams in establishing and founding the [Bounty] program,” and “offered a specific bounty - $10,000 in cash – to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.”

Vilma's 16-page lawsuit, however, contends the following ...

  • Vilma never “targeted” an opposing player in any manner that would violate NFL rules.
  • Vilma never engaged “in unsafe and prohibited conduct intended to injure players.”
  • Vilma never “participate[d] in a program that potentially injured opposing players.”
  • Vilma never “embraced” a Bounty Program or any similar program in violation of NFL rules.
  • Vilma never paid, or intended to pay, $10,000, or any amount of money, as an incentive to any player to knock Warner, Favre, or any other player, out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game, 2010 NFC Championship Game, or any other game.
  • Vilma never placed $10,000, or any amount of money, on any table or anywhere else as part of a Bounty Program or any other program in violation of NFL rules.

Vilma accuses Goodell of making inflammatory statements damaging to his reputation. Says the suit:

"[The allegations] falsely taint and permanently damage Vilma, in the eyes of NFL Clubs, media, fans and sponsors, as a player who brazenly disregards NFL rules and intentionally attempts to injure his opponents. Media will forever mention his name in the context of the Bounty investigation and fans will forever remember Vilma with ill repute rather than remember his substantial accomplishments on and off the field. In addition, NFL Clubs will be less likely to sign Vilma as a result of his tainted reputation and sponsors will be less likely to pay Vilma to promote their products and services."

It will be interesting to see how this litigation unfolds. The ball is back in Goodell's court now with Vilma's "Prove it" challenge waiting to be addressed.

Fifth round: Vikings continue quest to find a diamond in the rough late

Posted by: Updated: April 13, 2012 - 8:12 AM

Everyone from the expert-level draftnik to the most casual Vikings fan has discussed the Vikings' No. 3 overall pick ad nauseam. But what about the team's nine other picks? What might a team with numerous holes to fill do on Days 2-3 of this month's NFL draft? Access Vikings is taking a round-by-round look at the team's history in Rounds 2-7 since Rick Spielman began overseeing the team's draft preparation as director of player personnel in 2007. We'll also take a look at players Spielman, now the team's general manager, might select later this month.

 
[[[ See our previous breakdowns: ROUND 2, ROUND 3, ROUND 4 ]]]
 
TODAY'S ROUND: 5.
VIKINGS' PICK: 138th overall.
 
SINCE 2007: The fifth round isn’t usually a hotbed for Pro Bowl talent. Instead, teams are hoping to discover a few diamonds in the rough that can eventually be molded into starters or key backups. The Vikings have selected seven players in the fifth round since 2007 with mixed results.
 
HITS: 0.
 
MISSES: 4.
 
1, Aundrae Allison, WR, East Carolina, 146th overall, 2007: The best-case scenario for Allison, who slid down the draft board in ’07, was that he could be a dynamic return man who could also lend some speed and explosiveness on offense. But he was inconsistent as a pass catcher and often lacked focus. In two seasons with the Vikings, he had 18 catches for 231 yards and was waived during training camp in 2009.
 
2, John David Booty, QB, Southern Cal, 137th overall, 2008: Booty’s most memorable moment as a Viking may have been surrendering his number 4 jersey when legendary quarterback Brett Favre came to town. Other than that, he never took a regular-season snap.
 
3, Nate Triplett, LB, Minnesota, 167th overall, 2010: Oops! There were hopes that Triplett, a homegrown product who was a nice guy, could channel his talent into becoming a valuable special teams contributor. Yet Triplett couldn’t even make the practice squad out of training camp.
 
4, Brandon Burton, CB, Utah, 139th overall, 2011: With the signings of free agent cornerbacks Zack Bowman and Chris Carr, it’s likely Burton will spend much of 2012 as a special teams contributor while being stored as an emergency corner. Even as the secondary and the season fell apart last fall, Burton couldn’t earn significant playing time on defense until Christmas-time.
 
TO BE DETERMINED: 3.
 
1, Letroy Guion, DT, Florida State, 152nd overall, 2008: We’re giving Guion the “To Be Determined” label with full knowledge that 2012 will be the year that his career arc is determined. Shortly after signing Guion last month to a new deal that will pay him $9 million over the next three seasons, the Vikings cut Remi Ayodele, clearing the stage at nose tackle. The belief inside the organization is that pairing Guion with new defensive line coach Brendan Daly will trigger an impressive emergence up front.
 
2, Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina, 150th overall, 2009: Like Guion, Brinkley will be given every opportunity to flourish in 2012, in line to start at middle linebacker. But after spending all of 2011 on injured reserve with a hip injury, Brinkley must prove he can handle a heavy workload and show the speed he had before he got hurt.
 
3, Chris DeGeare, OL, Wake Forest, 161st overall, 2010: At the NFL Owners Meetings in Florida last month, head coach Leslie Frazier said DeGeare would be given a chance to compete for a starting position at guard in 2012. But that was more likely a nugget of motivation for the third-year lineman who may be lucky to land a reserve role.
 
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH IN ROUND 5, 2012:
 
1, Brandon Hardin, S, Oregon State: No team needs safety help as bad as the Vikings, so why not take a flier on a guy like Hardin? Yes, he missed all of 2011 with a broken bone in his left shoulder. But Hardin has admirable savvy, good speed and athleticism and is well suited for a zone-based system.
 
2, Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Criner’s 38-inch vertical leap jump at the combine provided a glimpse into his athleticism. He has a knack for making the spectacular catch but isn’t a burner and hasn’t always shown consistent effort.
 
3, Michael Smith, RB, Utah State: As the Vikings continue to search for a change-of-pace back to play behind Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, Smith could be a good fit and a decent late-round find thanks to his quick burst and pass-catching ability. He’s also a team-first guy.
 
4, Audie Cole, ILB, N.C. State: The Vikings’ coaching staff got an extended look at Cole while coaching him at the Senior Bowl in January. He’s a smart player who rarely wanders out of place. The question is whether Cole’s impressive energy is enough to compensate for his mediocre speed.
 
5, Tom Compton, OL, South Dakota: A former star at Rosemount High School and a four-year starter in college, Compton hopes to find a niche in the NFL with his intelligence and efficiency. He’s 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds and could provide depth to the offensive tackle position.

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