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.
The Vikings have called in former Chief Justice of Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Chris Madel to lead the investigation into former punter Chris Kluwe’s allegations released on Thursday.
“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” said Vikings Owner Mark Wilf in a press release.
Madel led the high-profile investigation of the Fiesta Bowl committee in Phoenix, Ariz. and has been named Minnesota Lawyer’s “Attorney of the Year” for the last three years.
The investigation is already underway and will include interviews with current and former members of the Vikings organization.
“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” said Vikings Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren in a press release. “Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson avoided jail time today after pleading guilty to careless driving and third-degree DWI.
A third charge, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, was dropped.
Simpson was sentenced just for the careless driving misdemeanor, and the third-degree DWI (refusal to submit to a chemical test) was stayed.
Simpson was ordered to do 120 hours of community service in public schools instead of serving 15 days in the workhouse. He also must attend alcohol seminars. He is on probation for one year and cannot have any of the same or similar offenses.
If he violates the terms of his probation, he would likely end up back in court and face a stronger sentence.
Simpson was arrested in Minneapolis on Nov. 9 after a state trooper responded to a stalled car blocking lanes on Interstate 394 out of downtown Minneapolis.
Simpson, 27, was arrested after he exited his Dodge Charger when a trooper arrived at the stalled car. He showed signs of intoxication and flunked a field sobriety test. Simpson denied he was drinking and said he was coming from the Pourhouse, which is in the Lumber Exchange Building on S. 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis.
When Simpson signed with the Vikings in 2012, he was dealing with the repercussions of a three-game suspension by the NFL stemming from a drug arrest and was in the first year of three years’ probation ordered by a Kentucky judge. In April 2012, Simpson was sentenced in Kentucky to 15 days in jail and put on probation for three years, along with 200 hours of community service. He originally was charged there on March 1, 2012, with felony charges after marijuana was shipped to his home in Kentucky. In a plea agreement, authorities agreed that Simpson apparently wanted the marijuana for his own use, and that of his friends. Simpson’s punishment stemmed from a September 2011 crime in which authorities intercepted a package containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana on its way to his house. Police later searched Simpson’s home in northern Kentucky and found six more pounds of marijuana plus drug paraphernalia.
Simpson likely faces a suspension from the NFL for the latest charges. He is an unrestricted free agent.
Former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier might not be out of work very long. A league source said there's a "good chance" that Frazier will become Lovie Smith's defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Multiple media outlets are reporting tonight that the Bucs have hired Smith as their new head coach. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports first reported that Smith likely will bring Frazier with him as his defensive coordinator. A source confirmed that possibility. The move would make sense, considering their background with the Tampa 2 defense.
Meanwhile, the Vikings will interview Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
With only two games left in the Metrodome, the Vikings announced their all-Mall of America Field team on Thursday.
The team was chosen by fan voting over the past month and recognizes the "greatest Vikings to play in the stadium." The team consists of 27 current and former players -- 12 offensive players, 11 defensive players and four special teamers, as well as the head coach. The team will be honored during halftime of Sunday's game against Philadelphia.
Here is the team:
PLAYER POS. YEARS
Daunte Culpepper... QB........... 1999-05
Adrian Peterson....... RB........... 2007-13
Robert Smith........... RB........... 1993-00
Anthony Carter....... WR........... 1985-93
Cris Carter.............. WR........... 1990-01
Randy Moss........... WR...... 1998-04,’10
Steve Jordan............ TE........... 1982-94
Tim Irwin..................... T........... 1981-93
Gary Zimmerman....... T........... 1986-92
Steve Hutchinson...... G........... 2006-11
Randall McDaniel...... G........... 1988-99
Matt Birk..................... C........... 1998-08
PLAYER POS. YEARS
Jared Allen............... DE........... 2008-13
Chris Doleman......... DE...... 1985-93,’99
John Randle............. DT........... 1990-00
Kevin Williams......... DT........... 2003-13
Chad Greenway....... LB........... 2006-13
Ed McDaniel............. LB........... 1992-01
Scott Studwell.......... LB........... 1977-90
Carl Lee................... CB........... 1983-93
Antoine Winfield....... CB........... 2004-12
Robert Griffith............ S........... 1994-01
Joey Browner............. S........... 1983-91
PLAYER POS. YEARS
Percy Harvin........... RS........... 2009-12
Chris Kluwe................ P........... 2005-12
Ryan Longwell............ K........... 2006-11
Chris Walsh.............. ST........... 1994-02
Dennis Green ........................... 1992-01
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier announced today that Erin Henderson will start Sunday at Baltimore, but not at middle linebacker. Audie Cole will remain the starter at that spot while Henderson will return to weakside linebacker, a position he played prior to this season.
Henderson lost his job after his DWI arrest came to light last week. Henderson also has acknowledged that he's dealing with a personal issue, which caused him to miss the Green Bay game.
Henderson will return to the lineup after dressing but not playing in Sunday's victory against the Bears.
"It’s a huge thing for me," he said. "I didn’t really know how it was going to play out or what was going to happen once everything came out [about his arrest] and happened the way it did. It's another chance, another opportunity."
Henderson is familiar with the weakside spot so he shouldn't face any adjustment in shifting back to that role.
"From a pride standpoint and from a player’s standpoint, it’s a little bit difficult," he said. "But I accept my role and I understand what they’re trying to get done here and I’m behind my coach and the organization and whatever else decisions they make.”
The target of criticism for fans and media this season, Henderson said he's in a good frame of mind now, but he acknowledged that he let the criticism get to him this season.
"I have a lot of things to be happy about and thankful for aside from all the naysayers and haters and everybody else who's had different things to say about me throughout the year," he said. "Sometimes I let it get to me and get me down too much. I've come to grips with it and come to terms with it and I'm able to look at myself and know the man that I am and accept it.
".... I go out there every Sunday and I play my guts out, leave it on the line for my teammates and myself as well. So when you get some negative feedback it can be kind of a tough pill to swallow. But then you learn some of those people are idiots, sitting behind computers and phones saying whatever they want to say and you can't give it too much credit. Take it with a grain of salt and continue to move forward."
Henderson said he's limited his interaction on Twitter because of that criticism.
"I thought about deleting my account but that's giving them even more satisfaction," he said. "I still have my account but it's not on my phone so I don't check it as often and I don't tweet out too much. I think it is still good for those fans who appreciate the interaction and being able to reach out to people. There are a lot of good people out there. I get a lot of positive feedback as well. I don't think I give that enough credit or appreciation for the people who are talking well about me and who do have things to say about me. It can be kind of difficult to see sometimes with so much negativity coming your way.
"... Even with Audie going out there playing well. Instead of people just being happy for Audie playing, it's 'Audie's playing well, Erin sucks, get him out of there, he should never play again.' Why do I have to have anything to do with that? Just be happy for Audie and what he's doing and the opportunity he's taking advantage of."
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