Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
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 ...
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 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.
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.
At this point, everyone from the expert 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? On Monday, Access Vikings began 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.
TODAY'S ROUND: 4.
VIKINGS' PICKS: 98th overall, 128th overall (compensatory), 134th overall (compensatory).
SINCE 2007: The Vikings have done well in this round. With the three picks they've used, they beefed up their defensive line with Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and Christian Ballard. They've also been active when it comes to trades involving this round. In 2007, they traded their fourth-round pick and a sixth-rounder to move up four spots and take Robison. Later in the fourth round that year, they traded a pick to Denver for a sixth-rounder (Rufus Alexander), a seventh-rounder (Chandler Williams) and a third-rounder in 2008. Although Alexander and Williams didn't stick, the third-rounder in 2008 was used as part of the Jared Allen trade. So not bad there. However, in 2008, the Vikings used their fourth-rounder as part of the package to move up in the second round and take Tyrell Johnson. Not so good. In 2009, the fourth-rounder was traded to Houston for Sage Rosenfels, who was supposed to challenge for the starting quarterback job until Brett Favre arrived fashionably late. And in 2010, the Vikings flipped fourth-round picks as part of the deal that sent the Lions the 30th pick in exchange for the 34th pick. The Lions got the 128th overall pick, while the Vikings got the 100th pick, which was used to pick Griffen.
1, Brian Robison, DE, Texas, 102nd overall 2007: He came in with the perception of being an undersized project whose most interesting trait was an ability to throw the shotput a world-class distance. He was confident, bordering on cocky. And for good reason. The dude can play. He was a valuable backup for four seasons. Then he made disgruntled left end Ray Edwards expendable. Robison took over the starting job in 2011 and proved he can be an every-down player. He also had eight sacks, giving him 21 1/2 in his career.
2, Everson Griffen, DE-LB, USC, 100th overall 2010: At one point, Griffen was projected as a first-round pick. Character concerns dropped his stock considerably. At pick 100, those concerns were well worth the risk. The Vikings not only landed one of their best special teams player, they got a freakish athlete who's 6-3, 273 pounds and runs a 4.6. When the Vikings go with a 3-4 nickel package, it's only because Griffen as a roaming, rushing linebacker is a matchup problem for offenses. Griffen also is strong enough to play inside at tackle in passing situations. Look for the Vikings to continue to use him in creative ways.
TO BE DETERMINED: 1.
1, Christian Ballard, DL, Iowa, 106th overall 2011: One could argue that he's either a hit already or is a safe pick to become one. He's got the size, strength, quickness and overall flexibility to play nose tackle, under tackle or left end. With Letroy Guion moving to nose tackle, Ballard probably will replace Kevin Williams at the three-technique as early as 2013. Ballard started two of 16 games last year and was surprisingly good on special teams. It's odd when defensive ends and defensive tackles are good special teamers, but that's what the Vikings have in Griffen and Ballard.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH IN ROUND 4, 2012:
1, Marcus Forston, DT, Miami, Fla.: A powerful fire-plug at 6-1, 300. He had 12 tackles for loss, including three sacks as a sophomore in 2010. He might have been a higher projection this year had a knee injury not limited him to three games a year ago.
2, DeQuan Menzie, CB, Alabama: He's the Tide's "other" corner, opposite Dre Kirkpatrick, a first-round projection. Menzie is known as an intelligent player, a good tackler and a guy who would fit well in a zone scheme. His 40 time was in the 4.6 range, which might be a concern.
3, Aaron Henry, S, Wisconsin: Had a strong pro day with a 4.5-second 40 and a 39.5-inch vertical. An interesting mid-round prospect who's 6 feet tall, 208 pounds.
4, Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami, Fla.: A 6-5, 215-pound vertical threat who's raw, but worth a look in the fourth round. Had a team-high eight TDs and a 17.6-yard average on 46 catches a year ago.
5, Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia: I covered his dad, Frank, a corner for the Browns from 1984-92. Frank was an exceptional press corner. That's not something the Vikings ask a lot of with their corners, but it's sure worth looking at a guy with Frank's genes and direction. NFLDraftScout.com ranks Chase as the 14th corner available. Minnifield had arthroscoping knee surgery last month. He's expected to be ready for training camp, if not much sooner. the 5-10, 183-pounder had 13 interceptions in his four seasons.
Everyone from the expert 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? Starting today, Access Vikings will take 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.
TODAY'S ROUND: 2.
VIKINGS' PICK: 35th overall.
SINCE 2007: The Vikings have had six second-round picks in the past five drafts. The team has taken four offensive players and two defensive players. They've traded up to pick Toby Gerhart and have traded down and gotten Sidney Rice. They also picked Chris Cook after trading out of the first round.
1, Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina, 44th overall 2007: The Vikings traded down three spots, picked up a fourth-rounder and still came away with Rice. Rice became Brett Favre's favorite receiver during the 2009 run to the NFC Championship game. His hip surgery in the summer of 2010 was a key moment in the team's collapse. He left via free agency in 2011 and the Vikings have yet to replace him as a deep threat. Although injuries and his departure limited his impact, he was still a "hit" pick in the second round.
1, Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State, 43rd overall 2008: This is Spielman's most disappointing selection. In four seasons, Johnson never fit with the system or the coaching staff. He lacked instincts and wasn't a good tackler. He also had only one year in which he had more than 22 solo tackles. Johnson has signed by Miami and might resurrect his career with the Dolphins. But no one can deny that his first four seasons were a major miss, especially considering the Vikings traded up four spots to get him. They gave up a fourth-rounder, but also got a fifth-rounder that became Letroy Guion. Guion might be the team's starting nose tackle this year.
TO BE DETERMINED: 4.
1, Phil Loadholt, RT, Oklahoma, 54th overall, 2009: He's been a starter since Day 1, so he's not a miss. But he still lacks the consistency to be considered a hit.
2, Chris Cook, CB, Virginia, 34th overall 2010: On the field, he was becoming a hit until, well, you know. A 6-2 corner with above-average speed and cover skills, he was regaining the confidence he lost while battling nagging knee injuries in 2010. But then came the arrest for domestic assault that wiped out the final 10 games of 2011. He has since been found innocent of all charges and isn't expected to be suspended by the league. With a new appreciation for football and freedom, Cook should go on to make this pick a hit. Also helping this pick is the fact the Vikings also got a fourth-round pick as part of the deal that saw them give Detroit the 30th overall pick. The Vikings used that fourth-rounder on Everson Griffen, one of the team's more promising young defenders.
3, Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford, 51st overall 2010: He's definitely not a miss. He's done all that's been asked in his role as Adrian Peterson's backup. He also gives the team a strong Plan B starter if Peterson can't return from his torn ACL in time for the start of the 2012 season. However, that being said, one has to wonder whether the team simply gave up too much to get a backup running back. Besides using a second-round pick on Gerhart, the team also had to give up its third-round pick to move up in the second round. Gerhart can post a solid career and still not make that pick a strong "hit."
4, Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame, 43rd overall 2011: He has all the physical skills and certainly appears to be heading toward hit status. However, we'll need more than 26 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns as evidence that he was worthy of a second-round pick.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH IN ROUND 2, 2012:
1, Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: The 6-4, 215-pounder with the freakish 4.36 40-yard dash has become one of the pre-draft darlings. After his combine performance, many now believe he won't make it out of the first round. But if he does and the Vikings don't take Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon with the No. 3 pick, Hill is a possibility at No. 35. He caught only 28 passes in an option offense last year. But he also averaged 29.3 yards per catch with five touchdowns.
2, Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: If the Vikings don't take USC's Matt Kalil with the third overall pick, they might be looking for Christian Ponder's blind-side protector at the top of the second round. Adams is a 6-7, 323-pounder that could last into the second round. He's known to have good technique, but there reportedly are concerns about character and work ethic.
3, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: Even though the Vikings have added free agent corners Chris Carr and Zack Bowman, they still can use a quality youngster to help them deal with an NFC North division that's loaded with giant receivers and big-time QBs. Gilmore fits a zone defense and has the size (6-foot, 190) and 4.4 speed to help at a position of need.
4, Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame: It's pretty well established that Spielman loves players from Notre Dame. It's also well established that the Vikings have but three safeties under contract. It's one of the unheralded positions of need. Smith is a 6-2, 213-pounder with the strength and power to possibly give the Vikings a presence at safety that's been lacking.
5, Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: E.J. Henderson isn't expected back and his heir apparent, Jasper Brinkley, missed all of last season because of hip surgery. Hightower could be an excellent pick at the top of the second round. He's 6-2, 265 pounds, runs a sub 4.7 40 and certainly displayed all the necessary instincts of a middle linebacker while he was helping Alabama become the country's most dominant defense.
Good news for Vikings star Jared Allen: he no longer has to worry about being swallowed up by the Madden curse.
This year, EA Sports is using a bracket format and fan voting to determine which player will be put on the cover of its "Madden '13" NFL video game. In the first round of the tournament, Allen cruised past Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, winning 58 percent of the vote in that head-to-head matchup.
But in the Sweet 16, Allen was handily beaten by New England tight end Rob Gronkowski -- 65 percent to 35 percent. Gronkowski guaranteed such a destruction, channeling his inner-Gallagher and smashing a watermelon which he said represented Allen.
Gronk, who just might have been seperated at birth from Ronnie of MTV's "Jersey Shore", now moves on to the Elite Eight of the Madden cover vote bracket where he'll next take on Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
The other three quarterfinal matchups: Aaron Rodgers vs. Ray Rice; Cam Newton vs. Larry Fitzgerald; and Patrick Willis vs. Victor Cruz.
As for Allen, this is one loss he might actually be celebrating. After all, appearing on the cover of Madden might seem like an honor. In truth, it's a trap door into misfortune. Some of the more notable victims of the Madden curse:
2001 (Madden '02 cover) - Daunte Culpepper suffered a career-altering knee injury.
2002 (Madden '03 cover) - Marshall Faulk was bothered by an ankle injury and struggled through an unproductive year.
2003 (Madden '04 cover) - Michael Vick broke his leg in the preseason.
2005 (Madden '06 cover) - Donovan McNabb suffered a sports hernia early in the season, struggled to play with it and later went on the shelf for the final seven games of the season.
2006 (Madden '07 cover) - Shaun Alexander suffered a broken foot early in the season.
2007 (Madden '08 cover) - Vince Young went down with a quadriceps injury.
2008 (Madden '09 cover) - Brett Favre led the New York Jets to an 8-3 start then faltered down the stretch, his shoulder pain contributing to the Jets' four losses in the final five games.
2009 (Madden '10 cover) - Troy Polamalu suffered a sprained MCL in the Steelers' season opener and missed 11 games.
2011 (Madden '12 cover) - Peyton Hillis was banged up all season, missed six games and rushed for 587 yards, less than half of what he totaled in 2010.
So, yeah, maybe it's best for Allen the way this has worked out. And just for the record, two NFC North superstars are still alive in the Madden bracket. For whatever that's worth.
|Vikings (3321)||AFC (80)|
|Bears (392)||Ex-Vikings (37)|
|Football on TV (45)||Lions (297)|
|NFC (1236)||NFL draft (232)|
|NFL post-season (28)||Packers (437)|
|Super Bowl (220)||Vikings coaches (62)|
|Vikings defense (224)||Vikings fans (108)|
|Vikings injury report (248)||Vikings management (25)|
|Vikings off the field (246)||Vikings offense (316)|
|Vikings quarterbacks (219)||Vikings road games (61)|
|Vikings rookies (23)||Vikings roster moves (30)|
|Vikings special teams (34)||Vikings training camp (124)|
|Injury report (304)||Off the field (121)|
|On the road (73)||Quarterbacks (281)|
|Rookies (71)||Roster moves (15)|
|The draft (282)||Trade talk (2)|
|Vikings players (695)||Adrian Peterson (825)|
|Anthony Herrera (161)||Antoine Winfield (407)|
|Ben Leber (97)||Bernard Berrian (213)|
|Bobby Wade (16)||Brad Childress (634)|
|Brett Favre (802)||Brian Robison (148)|
|Bryant McKinnie (106)||Cedric Griffin (194)|
|Chad Greenway (174)||Chester Taylor (79)|
|Chris Kluwe (113)||Darrell Bevell (109)|
|E.J. Henderson (182)||Heath Farwell (49)|
|Jared Allen (360)||John Sullivan (188)|
|Kevin Williams (188)||Leslie Frazier (799)|
|Madieu Williams (78)||Pat Williams (150)|
|Percy Harvin (665)||Phil Loadholt (145)|
|Ray Edwards (172)||Ryan Longwell (145)|
|Sage Rosenfels (102)||Sidney Rice (271)|
|Steve Hutchinson (188)||Tarvaris Jackson (169)|
|Tyrell Johnson (151)||Visanthe Shiancoe (216)|
|Brad Childress (638)||Darrell Bevell (110)|
|Leslie Frazier (804)||Lynx (1)|