FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- I don't dislike Bryant McKinnie, so torching him in a column this morning certainly wasn't my planned Sunday column when my plane's wheels touched down on Thursday night.
But McKinnie's actions were so off-the-charts stupid and selfish and embarrassing that he needed to be called out. I wasn't alone. In fact, the front page of the Sun Sentinel's Pro Bowl special section has a photo of McKinnie and a funny column by Dave Hyde.
Highlighting the irrelevence of the Pro Bowl and mocking the Commish declaring this year's game a success, Hyde suggests McKinnie be given the game's MVP. He also says that if the NFL wants to punish him, they should make him play in the game.
I wonder if McKinnie has any idea just how badly he humiliated himself. Maybe he doesn't. After the league confirmed the obvious that McKinnie had been dismissed from the team, he was tweeting, texting us and issuing statements to ESPN through his spin doctors that he pulled out of the game for health reasons.
HE DID NOT PULL OUT. HE WAS DISMISSED.
As basic as a Pro Bowl offense is, McKinnie still DIDN'T KNOW THE PLAYS. He showed up for ONE meeting on Tuesday night. He showed up for ONE practice. Meanwhile, he was tweeting up a storm about all the nightclubs and strip clubs he was going to.
The question is why did he do this? The Pro Bowl practices are less than an hour. There's no helmets, no pads, no contact, nothing. Players clown around for the fans for about 45 minutes, sign some autographs, talk to reporters for a few moments and then go party. Bryant could have had his Pro Bowl and his night life both. Instead, he's a national joke this week.
That being said, I would caution against going too far overboard. I've had emails from people asking if the Vikings will release him because of this and earlier off-the-field issues.
No, they won't. I wanted a statement from the team, but didn't get one last night.
While this is embarrassing, it's not something the Vikings should use to unload McKinnie. Left tackles are hard to find, and for the most part, they haven't had to worry too much about left tackle since McKinnie was drafted in 2002.
Is he as good as he could be? Probably not. But he is a good player who doesn't miss games because of injury. But based on how he handled himself this week, he continues to be an off-the-field risk. He was suspended for four games in 2008 for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
If the commish whacks him again, the suspension could be longer.
It's amazing this conversation even needs to take place during a Pro Bowl week.
UPDATE: Proving again that our guy Judd never takes a day off in his quest to bring you people everything Purple-related, Mr. Zulgad has an update on the league's handling of the McKinnie situation over on his blog. It sounds to me like the league will just fine McKinnie. I personally don't think he should be suspended for regular season games for acting like this during Pro Bowl week.
I'll be going to the Pro Bowl tonight. If the Commish is made available, we'll ask him about Big Mac. So stay tuned.