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Well, We're National News Again

And, once again, it's for all the wrong reasons.

Yes, the situation with the Vikings and Troy Williamson's absence this past week is now, officially, major news story in the sports world.  Many places out there, from what I've read, have about the same sentiment about the entire situation that I have.  For example, Mark Kreidler from ESPN.com had the following to say about the situation:

..."The point is, Vikes, you look ridiculously cheap, and crass. You're the organization that took money away from a guy who felt so compelled by the events of his real life that he needed to be with his family in a time of crisis. Is that kind of a PR hit really worth $25,588.24 worth of "principle"?

I know, I know: Pretty soon guys will be saying they really need the weekend off for this or that emergency, just willy-nilly. It's such a reasonable fear, isn't it, that players would willingly sabotage their own careers by failing to show up for an NFL Sunday, in a business with an average career shelf life of mayonnaise left out in the sun? They'll be spilling out the door trying to run away from game day and drive down their own market value.

(Side thought: Would Adrian Peterson be docked a game check in the same way as a receiver who has only nine catches in six starts?)"

(Aesthetic point here: I hope that people don't continue to refer to this as "FuneralGate," as Kreidler does. Referring to something as AnythingGate just smacks of laziness. The incident with Richard Nixon back in the 70s was referred to as "Watergate" because there was actually a PLACE called The Watergate Hotel involved with it. There is no "gate" here, folks.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant.)

Kreidler is exactly right.  If this was Adrian Peterson, or E.J. Henderson, or Kevin Williams, or a few other players on the Vikings' roster, there would be no docking of a game check, and we certainly wouldn't get as lame an excuse as a "business principle" that needed to be upheld, either.

I, like many of you out there, have been through the grieving process numerous times after having lost a family member.  Over the course of my life, I've lost all four grandparents, a sister, and many other people that I've felt close to.  And when something like this happens, or you find out about it happening to people around you, you come to a realization.  You realize that when whoever or whatever is out there created us, he/she/it didn't pre-program anything in the fabric of our being that says, "Okay, when somebody dies, you must mourn for this long.  No more, no less.

Sure, people out there will point at other incidents and say things like "Oh, well Brett Favre went out and played the night after his father died," or "You know, Pat Williams lost his dad, too, but he was out there on Sunday."  You know what?  Good for them.  They took the appropriate amount of time that THEY needed to get through the grieving process.  When I lost my little sister, I went to school the day after her funeral.  A co-worker of mine lost his wife in a car accident not long after I got to Biloxi.  He was away from work for two weeks.  Why?  Because that was how long each of us needed to get through what we were going through.

What was the proper length of time for Troy Williamson to be away from the team?  I don't know.  You don't know.  Certainly nobody in the Vikings' front office knows.  Nobody in the media knows, either.  The only person who knows is Troy Williamson.  For the Vikings to have put some sort of restriction or time limit on the grieving process is the height of arrogance. . .which, for an organization that's looking for a stadium and looking to attract free agents down the road, is a height they really can't afford to climb to.

So, I hope that the $25,558.24 the Vikings are getting back from Troy Williamson is worth it to them. . .because, in the long term, this is going to cost them a whole lot more than that if the situation isn't rectified properly.  And the only proper way to rectify it is to say "Our bad" and give Williamson his money back.  As Kreidler points out in his article, if the Vikings are treating the players that they've attempted to develop in-house like this, how in the blue hell can we expect any free agents to even begin to consider Minneapolis as a viable destination?

We can't. . .and if things continue along this road, we shouldn't expect them to, either.  Yes, the Vikings will have a lot of money to throw around at free agents this off-season, and I'm sure they'll at least try to do so.  But as Troy Williamson has shown over the past week, and as the Vikings' front office has completely failed to realize, there are some things in this world that are far more important than money.  At this point, it doesn't appear as though the Vikings have any of those sorts of intangibles to offer.

The sad part about this whole thing is the fact that after Zygi Wilf took over the team and brought Brad Childress in to be his head coach, we fans were told that the embarrassments of the previous regime were going to be a thing of the past.  That the Vikings were striving to be a model organization.  That we were "burning the boats and going ashore."  The problem is that while Zygi and Brad were burning the boats, they failed to realize that a lot of us were still stuck down in steerage when the fire started, and are starting to get quite badly burned in our own right.  Quite frankly, I'm more embarrassed by this than I was by the Love Boat, and far more embarrassed by this than I've ever been by any on-field loss that the Vikings have suffered in the near quarter-century that I've called myself a Viking fan.

It's frustrating as hell, folks, I'll grant you that.  The Vikings change coaches, the Vikings change owners, the Vikings change players. . .and yet, when it comes to creating unnecessary controversy, the more things change in Minnesota, the more they stay the same.  Ironically, the page on my George Carlin page-a-day calendar from yesterday has a quote on it that pretty much sums up the experience of being a Vikings fan as it pertains to off-field incidents:

After every horror, we're told, "Now the healing can begin."  No.  There is no healing.  Just a short pause before the next horror.

It makes me wonder if Mr. Carlin is a Vikings fan.

I love my team, ladies and gentlemen.  I always have.  I'm not sure if I'm 100% in love with what they're becoming, and I certainly hope that the course can be reversed sooner rather than later.