Not guilty verdict provides Cook with a chance

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2012 - 7:06 AM

The Vikings cornerback said he learned from his trial and vowed to control his actions in the future.

When Chris Cook emerged, for the final time, from courtroom 1653 of the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday, he wasn't quite sure how to react.

He shuffled toward a window and shook his head, trying to process his good fortune.

He smiled widely, exhaled and then did what came naturally. Amid a pack of well-wishers, Cook turned back and engulfed his defense attorney, David Valentini, in a bear hug.

"Thank you," Cook said.

"Welcome back to the NFL!" Valentini exclaimed.

On Thursday, following six full days of testimony in a fascinating and sometimes revealing trial, 12 jurors reached a verdict. Cook's fate was revealed slowly with a line-by-line announcement by the court clerk.

Not guilty on the count of domestic assault by strangulation.

Not guilty on the count of domestic assault in the third degree.

Not guilty on lesser charges of domestic assault with intent to cause fear and domestic assault with intent to cause bodily harm.

One hundred forty-six days since last practicing with the Vikings, Cook felt a sudden surge of relief, joy and vindication. Best of all, he saw a pathway back to a promising football career that had been derailed five months ago by one excessively violent argument with his then-girlfriend, Chantel Baker.

"Man, I can't tell you how grateful I am this is all over now," Cook said. "I just want to get back to playing football."

That wish will soon become a reality, with the Vikings cornerback-turned-defendant given clearance to return to Winter Park in the role he most relishes.

With a statement, the Vikings gave every indication Cook would be welcomed back.

"We have thoroughly considered Chris' situation and how he has approached this matter," the statement read. "We will meet with Chris in the near future and believe he deserves the opportunity to rejoin our organization."

The NFL, with authority to dole out its own punishment, seems unlikely to take action. "We will review the facts," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail, "but we do not expect league discipline in this matter."

Viewed strictly from a football standpoint, Cook's acquittal might register as the most significant victory the Vikings have enjoyed in two years. Suddenly, an abysmal secondary has help returning from a big and quick 25-year-old corner who many in the organization believe could quickly become a consistent standout.

Yet Cook will have to again earn the trust of his coaches and teammates, no easy battle after all this.

"I don't even know what I'm going to say to them," he said. "Most likely I'll just show them proof [I can be trusted] instead of talking. ... I feel I'm a person that's very trustworthy. And I know it might take some time to earn the trust of the organization and the fans. But I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

Cook acknowledged a cyclone of emotions spinning through his head.

He seemed contrite, apologizing to his family and to Baker and her family for all he put them through.

He defended his character, asserting he is not the monster he's been portrayed to be.

He repeatedly referenced the dejection he felt missing 10 games last season, even with the Vikings keeping him on their payroll.

"People said, 'At least you're still getting paid,' but that didn't make me happy," Cook said. "Playing football makes me happy. I just felt a void. I didn't feel like me."

Since his trial began March 5, Cook had felt his guts twisting, his future suddenly in the hands of 12 jurors who were asked to piece together and evaluate that chaotic night and early morning in October that ended with Cook in custody.

The much-publicized fight left Baker with a perforated eardrum, a bloody nose and a bruised face.

It put Cook behind bars for more than 48 hours and left him facing two felony charges.

It left the Vikings without a budding young cornerback for most of 2011, with no promise Cook would ever return.

Cook's rescue from that purgatory came Thursday, leaving him thankful and introspective. He insists he has changed.

"This definitely makes me more conscious about the things I do," he said. "Even though I was conscious about them before, this helped me grow as a man.

"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."

Five months after losing control of his future, Cook now has his career back and his life back in his own hands.

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close