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Friday's Notebook: Winfield Still Staying Away from OTAs

The Absence of Winfield Continues

Well, he skipped the mandatory minicamp last weekend, he's skipped the OTAs this week, and he has essentially vanished aside from completing a mandatory physical on Tuesday. I'm obviously talking about Antoine Winfield, who has turned up the heat on his employer to award him for his first Pro Bowl season with a new contract. There is no other way to interpret his absence from the OTAs -- he's putting pressure on the Vikings, plain and simple.

It's been interesting to read some of the reactions to this story in the comments, as for the most part, they've been downplaying the problems this could present. Sure, it might be a tad early to start getting too worried about this, but there are two reasons I'm concerned about the continuing absence of Winfield.

First, this team doesn't need another distraction -- and with little else to talk about, an act of protest by a cornerstone of the defense has been the biggest Vikings story of the week. That's not good, even if we're only in early June. Second, staying away from the Vikings' OTAs isn't exactly anything new for Winfield. Recall that in 2007, he completely stayed away from the team’s strength and conditioning program and OTAs, and only attended the required minicamp. Look at the stats to see what happened to Winfield that season.

Oh yeah, he released a statement Thursday night:

"I want all to know that I'm not at OTAs because I don't want to be there. I do want to be there! As I have stated before, I want to finish my career a Viking."

More stuff after the jump, and check out today's poll below: How concerned are you about Antoine Winfield?

Sayonara, Vikings-Chiefs Scrimmages

If you haven't heard, the Vikings-Chiefs training camp scrimmage has been called off this season which is disappointing for me. True, the scrimmage a few seasons ago led Carl Peterson to nab Tyler Thigpen, but you've gotta like the intensity of the occasions when these two teams have met each summer. I made the trip to River Falls for last year's scrimmage, which wasn't terribly eventful, but these things were generally good for several skirmishes and had a much different atmosphere than the usual training camp grind.

Stadium Talk

The news that Tim Pawlenty won't be seeking a third term as governor of Minnesota would surely figure to have some implications for the Vikings stadium push, would it not? Thankfully, for those of us lacking the political brains to figure out what exactly these implications would be, Jay Weiner argues that this is the most likely scenario:

[Pawlenty] does nothing significant to help get a Vikings stadium built during his administration. And he takes no heat.

If anyone else wants to push the stadium idea in 2010, Pawlenty lets them.

But who will?

Many of the potential gubernatorial candidates of both parties are in the Legislature already. As with the Twins ballpark debate of the 1990s and early 2000s, the issue of Vikings stadium support or opposition will become a litmus test for gubernatorial candidates. Newspaper "Voter's Guides" and anti-tax groups will seek superficial yes/no answers on: "Do you support public funding for a Vikings stadium?"

Candidates in knee-jerk fashion will check off, "No," locking themselves in.

Perfect storm of crappy conditions, it seems -- a ton of other political priorities on the docket, a state that's been struggling to balance its budget, and a gubernatorial election in which no solid support for a stadium project will be expressed by any viable candidate. If this thing is going to get resolved, it's going to take major creativity. I took my hat off to Rep. Tom Hackbarth a couple months ago for proposing that a stadium be funded through a metro area casino -- and though that doesn't have a chance of hell in happening, it represents the type of creative thinking needed to get this team a new stadium in these unfavorable economic and political times.

And Finally...

I have now been a member of Twitter for nearly a full week, and I must admit, it's starting to grow on me...Shutdown Corner's movie of the week is one of my favs: Any Given Sunday...Phil Loadholt is writing a blog for The National Football Post, and in his latest entry, he writes that the lack of a contract means he's still driving a 2005 Impala around...Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett advises you to start your day by pouring yourself a nice pot of Captain Crunch, covering it with sugar, and eating it with a serving spoon (hat tip: Hot Clicks).