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Former Vikings RB Onterrio Smithlost his helmet after a run in 2003 against Kansas City. He later lost his job in one of the most infamous incidents in the Vikings history.

Jim Anderson,

Reusse: Look, things had been too quiet at Winter Park anyway

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE
  • Star Tribune
  • June 21, 2012 - 7:56 AM

I've been writing sports columns for various Twin Cities dailies since February 1979. The finest moment of this duty occurred on May 10, 2005.

Late in the afternoon, Star Tribune sports editor Glen Crevier called and said Vikings beat reporter Kevin Seifert was writing a story that running back Onterrio Smith had been detained at the Twin Cities airport a month earlier, trying to get through security with an "Original Whizzinator."

Seifert's report revealed that this was a device intended to provide a lifelike appearance and a clean urine sample, if one was to be monitored as he undertook a drug test, say, at the behest of the NFL.

"I know you're supposed to be off today, but would you want to write a column for tomorrow's paper?" Crevier asked.

The boss was asked to repeat slowly the details of Seifert's report and then I said: "Glen, I would pay to write a column for tomorrow's paper."

When the debate turns to the Vikings' greatest off-the-field moment, there are Purple followers that insist it should be the "Love Boat," while others support a first-round draft choice hitchhiking away from Mankato after one morning practice, or a coach scalping Super Bowl tickets, or another coach issuing a communiqué from a location that was remindful of a Saddam bunker.

Yes, there are handfuls of these spectacular episodes, but I continue to argue that "The Original Whizzinator" -- and Onterrio's contention that he was carrying it for his cousin -- ranks No. 1 on the list of Vikings smiles.

And let's face it:

The reason the Vikings' stadium initiative made it through the Legislature with ease, in comparison to the difficulties faced by the Twins for a ballpark that required no state contribution, is because they never are boring.

The Vikings are hilarious, they are embarrassing, they are heartbreaking, but they never are boring.

The Twins lose and their fans start with disgust and move quickly to apathy. The Wild loses and its fans make excuses. The Timberwolves lose and the fan base becomes the lost legion of Target Center.

The Vikings?

They make us laugh. They make us cry. They make us shout, "You have to be joking." They make us dress up in horns and braids and head to St. Paul to sing "Skol, Vikings" in the Capitol corridors.

The stadium cleared its final legislative hurdle May 10. Do you think it was a coincidence that this was the seventh anniversary of Onterrio and the Original Whizzinator being revealed to the world at startribune.com?

These things are simpatico in Vikingland -- chuckles and celebrations, triumph and tragedy.

There might have been a younger and naïve element that was thinking things were coming together nicely for the Vikings now that the stadium issue was finally decided.

Heck, only one Vikings arrest had been revealed publicly in the six weeks since the stadium bill passed: New fullback Jerome Felton charged with a DWI acquired in the drive-through line at a McDonald's.

As I recall, it was a Hardee's drive-through in Mankato where Keith Millard had his crash three decades earlier.

See how it goes around and comes around with our beloved Purple?

Felton was quick to apologize, and General Manager Rick Spielman (the Vikings' first since Jim Finks) stayed busy turning his roster into one of the three youngest in the NFL.

Spielman had wound up with his man, left tackle Matt Kalil, and landed extra draft choices in the process. Adrian Peterson was talking about being back from his knee surgery for the season opener.

This was Smooth Purple.

A single blip on the radar occurred when receiver Percy Harvin showed up for an OTA workout on June 5 and wasn't around on June 6. Asked Harvin's whereabouts, coach Les Frazier reminded reporters that the "O" stood for optional.

Harvin arrived at the mandatory minicamp Tuesday as the Vikings' most popular player. Then, Percy told reporters he was unhappy. Then, it was revealed Wednesday that Harvin had requested a trade due to this vague unhappiness.

Vikings fans reacted with confusion, followed by panic, followed by curses toward the football gods.

In other words, we're back to our non-boring normal in Vikingland.

Ain't it great?

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. • preusse@startribune.com

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