Vikings players were in the locker room a week ago when a team employee handed each of them a sheet of paper to sign and return.
On this sheet of paper was a list of 18 don'ts covered in the 2015 League Policies for Players. By signing the paper, players were confirming to the NFL that they had received the new policy book and were going to go home, curl up in front of a roaring fire and read every last word.
One of the "don'ts" covered is gambling. Wagering on one's own sport, especially one's own team, isn't a good idea. (See: Rose, Pete).
After Sunday's upsets, Monday seemed like a particularly good time to ask some of the players if they'd ever been dumb, er, daring enough to wager hard-earned money on predicting the outcome, with point spread, of an NFL game.
"Never, ever," said cornerback Terence Newman. "Never."
"You mean who can beat who?" said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. "I don't know who can beat who. So no."
"Not at all," receiver Mike Wallace said. "Don't trust it."
Later that night, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck played hot potato with the Jets defense as Indianapolis flopped at home as a 6½-point favorite on Monday Night Football.
The Colts became the ninth favorite to lose straight up in Week 2. They were the fifth favorite to lose straight up at home. And they were the fourth team to be favored by at least 6½ points and lose straight up.
One of the more exciting tentacles of the NFL's popularity is the "survivor pools."
This subject came up in discussion with some of the players Monday.
A reporter said he had heard from a friend of a friend about a survivor pool that started with 2,712 living members, went into Week 2 with 2,369 left and came out the other side with only 257 still standing. That's 2,112 souls who couldn't even pick a Week 2 winner, let alone the point spread.
Somewhere, Pete Rozelle, the founding father of parity, is smiling.
Of those 2,112 souls, 1,085 trusted the 10½-point spread that said New Orleans and Drew Brees would at least win ugly at home against Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston.
"See, that's what I'm saying," Munnerlyn said. "And Tampa Bay went in and beat them. In New Orleans. I really don't know guys who bet on the NFL. But I'd tell them it's tricky because you never know which team is going to show up."
The Vikings have personal experience in that regard. They followed a 20-3 loss at San Francisco in Week 1 with perhaps the deepest collective sigh of relief in the history of Week 2. A 26-16 victory at home against Detroit flipped the script back to the rose-colored, puppies-in-a-meadow tone that was established around this team before Week 1.
"It's amazing how fast it turns," linebacker Gerald Hodges said after a wave of reporters swept through his locker on Monday. "One week, they're beating you up. The next week, they're saying, 'You're a Super Bowl team.' "
That's a concern for coach Mike Zimmer. He's now telling his players, "Don't take the cheese," which is a Bill Parcellian way of helping players understand what happens when they start nibbling on all the good words we set down for them when they win. Years ago, Parcells hung mouse traps from the Cowboys Valley Ranch locker room ceiling to illustrate his point.
Newman was asked about the "cheese" quote Monday.
"Man, what is it about this, 'Don't eat the cheese' thing?" he said. "You're like the fourth person to ask me about cheese. What does 'Don't take the cheese' have to do with us working for next week?"
Then he paused.
"Actually," he said, "it has a lot to do with next week when you think about it."
Some players were asked if they know any gamblers.
"I don't think I know anybody who bets on the league," safety Harrison Smith said. "I try to avoid gamblers."
"I'm not a big gambler for money anyway," Hodges said. "I'm pretty sure it's illegal."
Any advice for those who do gamble on the NFL?
"Good luck, man; good luck," Hodges said.
You're going to need it.
Mark Craig email@example.com