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.


Sporting News report: Percy Harvin epitomized unhealthy player culture at Florida

Posted by: under Vikings, Percy Harvin Updated: April 10, 2012 - 10:47 AM

Tough Tuesday so far for Percy Harvin. This morning, the Vikings receiver revealed via Twitter that he has postponed the minor arthroscopic shoulder surgery that he had scheduled for today, citing a family emergency that needed attention.

Now Harvin is also seeing his name dragged through the mud for alleged behavioral problems he had several years back while playing at the University of Florida. In a revealing Sporting News story on former Florida coach Urban Meyer, now the boss at Ohio State, writer Matt Hayes details a Gator program that came off the rails during Meyer’s final few seasons in Gainesville.

Harvin, the story alleges, was one of the bigger problem players. According to Sporting News:

It was Harvin, more than anyone, who epitomized the climate Meyer created. While former players say Harvin always was treated differently as a member of Meyer’s Circle of Trust, it was the beginning of his sophomore season—after he helped lead the Gators to the 2006 national title—that it became blatant. That's also when it began to contribute negatively toward team chemistry.

During offseason conditioning before the 2007 season, the team was running stadium steps and at one point, Harvin, according to sources, sat down and refused to run. When confronted by strength and conditioning coaches, Harvin—who failed to return calls and texts to his cell phone to comment on this story—said, “This (expletive) ends now.”

“The next day,” a former player said, “we were playing basketball as conditioning.”

It only got worse as Harvin’s career progressed. At one point during the 2008 season, multiple sources confirmed that Harvin, now a prominent member of the Minnesota Vikings, physically attacked wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, grabbing him by the neck and throwing him to the ground. Harvin had to be pulled off Gonzales by two assistant coaches—but was never disciplined.

When asked about the Harvin incident, Gonzales—now offensive coordinator at Illinois—said, “I think it’s a little overblown. I mean, every great player wants his voice to be heard.” Said Meyer: “Something did happen and something was handled. I don’t think it’s fair to Percy Harvin or Billy Gonzales to talk about it.”

Just to keep things in perspective, the incidents in question occurred between three and five years ago. And last season, Harvin flourished during his third year with the Vikings, racking up 1,312 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns on 139 touches. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate after the season and also received the 2011 Korey Stringer Good Guy Award for his cooperation with the local media.
 
The Sporting News story, of course, has valid reason to unearth Harvin’s past problems as a way of adding context to the troubling end of Meyer’s coaching tenure at Florida. But there is absolutely nothing in the report that has any significant relevance to Harvin’s career to date or future with the Vikings.
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