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.


Looking for clarity in Percy Harvin saga? Not much exists

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: March 8, 2013 - 1:32 PM

If only the Internet had come around sooner. If only the popularity of blogs had exploded in the late 1980s so that by the time I got to Lincoln Jr. High in Park Ridge, Ill., in the fall of ‘89 I could have started a site called, say, “JuniorHighChatter.com.”

It would have been perfect, a hub for all the truth mixed with rumor mixed with gossip mixed with analysis that keeps people energized.

  • Sources: Debbie won’t go to dance with Tim; incensed by Valentine’s Day present
  • Report: Wood shop teacher had to borrow money to fill up gas tank on way to school
  • Breaking: Cafeteria taco meat may actually be made of squirrel

(According to a source close to the lunchroom, naturally.)

You’d click on those stories, right? Truths, half-truths, wild speculation.

Who really cares? So long as they are tied to a source and make for interesting conversation and debate, right?

Which brings us to the latest development in the wacky Percy Harvin saga. According to a story published late Thursday by Yahoo! Sports, Harvin almost walked out on the Vikings in late August. Reportedly.

He was apparently upset that New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez – a former teammate at Florida – had his contract reworked and enhanced after just two seasons in the league. According to the story, that infuriated Harvin. Reportedly to the point that he again threatened the Vikings to take better care of him or else.

So what we have now is a story that’s difficult to verify yet can’t really be disproven. After all, it’s difficult to pin down for certain whether Harvin’s threat really occurred? And if it did, was it the equivalent of an 8-year-old threatening to run away because he didn’t get ice cream after dinner? Or more was it more pronounced and legitimate than that?

Overall, what the latest batch of Harvin chatter has confirmed is that this situation needs resolution sooner than later. If only to keep the carousel of vague, anonymous-sourced reports from mushrooming further and overcrowding the NFL offseason’s hyperventilation chamber.

This isn’t to say Harvin hasn’t ever been a headache for the Vikings. He has. And we can all acknowledge that the 24-year-old receiver is often moody, has a fiery temper and occasionally lets his petulance steal the spotlight away from his tremendous football talent. There’s documented evidence of all that from his high school days in Virginia to his college career at Florida to his time with the Vikings.

But it’s also wise to process all Harvin stories at this stage of the NFL calendar with some deeper thought. Why, for example, would Harvin’s threat to leave the team seven months ago just now be surfacing – coincidentally at a point in the year where potential trade talks for the receiver might be heating up?

Might the source who relayed this information have an agenda to push, trying to manipulate the Harvin story arc in a way most beneficial to his/her cause?

If the Vikings are seeking to trade Harvin, it’s a deal they might want to complete before the free agent market opens Tuesday. So why would they leak information to the media that Harvin is an anxious malcontent who’s apparently seeking a mega-bucks contract in line with the eight-year, $132 deal that Detroit’s Calvin Johnson finalized last year?

Wouldn’t information like that significantly hurt Harvin’s trade value?

So then is it possible the source of these claims is with another team deliberately attempting to drive down that trade value?

To make things even more complicated, other conspiracy theorists suggest that maybe it is indeed the Vikings leaking the anti-Harvin sentiments, trying to scare away potential trade suitors, preferring instead to keep the receiver around for the final year of his deal. After all, the root of this drama seems to begin more with Harvin wanting out of Minnesota than with the Vikings wanting to get rid of him.

Furthermore, the timeline of Harvin’s alleged blow-up over Hernandez’s contract doesn’t make a ton of sense. Yes, he had a highly-publicized tantrum during the team’s mini-camp last June, requesting a trade. But Harvin quickly came down off that demand, reported to training camp on time a month later and wasn’t a problem at all during the team’s three-week stay in Mankato.

When Hernandez got his contract extension on Aug. 27, the Vikings were deep into the preseason preparing for their final preseason game in Houston and Harvin had worked himself into position to deliver the best stretch of his career at the start of the 2012 regular season.

Over the first eight games, he caught 60 passes for 667 yards. He scored touchdowns as a receiver, as a running back and as a kick returner. He was lauded as an MVP frontrunner and showed few signs of being a locker room stressor.

Especially with the Vikings off to a surprising 5-3 start.

But now? What’s next? Who knows?

Publicly, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has carefully stated he has “no intent” on trading Percy Harvin. Though Spielman has never gone on record to say that he won’t make such a trade.

Publicly, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has stated that he remains a big fan of Harvin and has expressed to the star receiver that he wants him back around.

Publicly, Harvin has said nothing. He hasn’t spoken to reporters since Nov. 21. That was in the locker room at Winter Park, 17 days after he had severely sprained his ankle in a Week 9 loss in Seattle. Harvin said that afternoon he was making good progress with his ankle rehabilitation and would definitely be back at practice.

He wasn’t able to make good on that vow. Not that day. And not for the team’s next six practices either.

Harvin was put on injured reserve Dec. 5. And with that, poof! He vanished from the team’s facility for the rest of the season and hasn’t been heard from since. The strange dynamic of the whole situation, of the I.R. decision, of Harvin’s separation from his teammates during an inspired late-season run has done nothing but create confusion. Harvin’s own silence exacerbates the mystery.

For now, the developments in this drama seemingly exist in a vacuum. And attempts to connect the dots have only surfaced through periodic reports that are themselves difficult to decipher or verify.

So what’s next? What’s next for Percy Harvin? At this point, it’s a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer. No matter how hard the search for one presses on.

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