When Brad Childress was asked if there was any possibility he might have rejected Percy Harvin and picked someone else after the Vikings coach returned from a personal visit in Florida with the team's No. 1 pick before last Saturday's draft, he said, "There were just some answers to some questions I had to get going down there."

Harvin, the speedy Florida receiver, is a proven playmaker but brings some extra baggage. Childress reached a comfort level after his visit.

"With the X's and O's stuff, the football spoke for itself, but really we only got exposed to him 15 minutes, 20 minutes [at the NFL scouting combine], and it's no different if you have a two-hour meeting," Childress said. "In my case, it was an eight-hour meeting with him, when you sit and visit throughout the day ... you overcommunicate so you get a little feel for questions -- not only the questions you have, but you kind of get to fill in the blanks on other things. ... Your questions and answers lend to more conversation and you get an overall feel for who a person is."

Was he thinking no at any time?

"Could have, yeah, could have. ... That's really why I went down there for, was to allay any fears or any questions that I had about him," Childress said. "Because, let's face it, it's a significant investment for the Vikings, the Wilfs, and you want to do the right thing in terms of football, in terms of character, all those things."

I get a kick out of all of these geniuses who question whether coaches from the Vikings or other teams decide to draft a player with some questionable history behind them.

If that same coach doesn't draft those players and he doesn't win, the first thing they want to do is fire the coach.

I recall a lot of criticism when the Vikings drafted Randy Moss. But once he started to make those big catches and become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history, his conduct before he was drafted was forgotten.

There wasn't a team with more characters than the Packers teams under coach Vince Lombardi, who won championships with characters like Max McGee, Paul Hornung and others. Lombardi knew how they were evading the curfews. But as long as they won, everything was OK.

Like my close friend Raiders owner Al Davis says, "Just win, baby" -- that's all that counts.

If Harvin turns out to be another Moss on the field, all will be forgotten.

Morales hot

On April 14, Twins catcher Jose Morales was hitting .214. Today he is hitting .349, after he caught his fourth game in a row because of Mike Redmond's sore shoulder. He went 0-for-3 in the Twins' 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. He has only thrown out one of 13 base-stealers, something manager Ron Gardenhire says the catchers should be working on in the minor leagues.

The big question will be whether the Twins will keep three catchers when Joe Mauer returns.

The Twins pitching staff had walked 59 batters this season, the lowest in baseball, going into Wednesday's game. But they had a poor 5.38 ERA -- seventh-highest in the major leagues.

Twins attendance for the first 14 home games is down from 337,369 last year to 326,511 this year. The per-game average is down from 24,097 last year to 23,322 this year. Asked his reaction to the decline amid the sour economy, team president Dave St. Peter said, "We are doing better than most clubs."

Former Twins designated hitter David Ortiz is struggling this year for the Red Sox. In 21 games, his batting average is .235, with seven doubles, one triple, zero home runs, 12 RBI, seven walks and 21 strikeouts. But Boston is doing fine anyway.

Kyle Lohse, who couldn't make it with the Twins or the Reds and did well with the Phillies, is 3-0 with the Cardinals with a 1.97 ERA.


The good news for Gophers football was that freshman linebacker Sam Maresh, who had heart and other health problems, saw a lot of action in the spring game and played well without any problems. His brother Mike, who played at North Dakota State, will get a tryout with the Vikings.

Ohio State recently signed a 10-year deal paying them $128 million from IMG College, the richest total multimedia rights fee in the history of collegiate sports. The Gophers' similar deal with Learfield is one of the top 15 in the country, and pays the university $6 million a year with the figure increasing a little each year.

Fewer than 1,000 of the 8,000 student season tickets for the new Gophers football stadium that went on sale Saturday are still available, according to athletic ticket manager Brent Holck. About 10,000 seats in the stadium are set aside for students, and the remaining 2,000 student tickets are being held aside for incoming freshmen. Of the remaining seats for the public, the ones that don't demand a contribution of up to $500 to the university in addition to the $275 price of the season tickets are going the fastest.

The decision has been made that the new Gophers basketball building will be built right next to Williams Arena. ... The deal for a new basketball floor at Williams to be installed this year is with PLC and will cost about $600,000.

Bob Gainey, who coached the North Stars to the Stanley Cup Finals and now is general manager of the Canadiens, is feuding with ex-North Stars player and current Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Brian Lawton. Gainey charges Lawton with leaking the names of players involved with a potential trade for Vincent Lecavalier, disrupting Gainey's club. Lawton denies the accusation. The Canadiens are for sale after being swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Tony Dungy, the former Gophers standout and Colts coach, is making arrangements to visit ex-Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in prison. Vick is serving a 20-month sentence for dogfighting, but could be moved to home confinement next month. ... At one time, the Colts had three ex-Gophers involved in their football team: Dungy, tight end Ben Utecht and defensive end Darrell Reid. Dungy retired, Utecht is with Cincinnati and Reid is now with Denver.

The other night, Tim Brewster entertained more than 200 players whom the Gophers football coach wanted to keep close to the program. ... It's too bad that the spring game next will likely be played at the new stadium, because everything went so well at St. Thomas University, including the size of the stadium.

Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith teamed with former Gophers player and current Timberwolves television commentator Jim Petersen to finish fifth out of 10 teams at the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge golf tournament in Greensboro, Ga., raising $25,000 for scholarships.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com