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Chris Cook Suspended Indefinitely. What’s Next For Him And The Vikings?

As Chris FanShoted earlier (that sounds dirty), the Vikings have made their initial move in terms of the allegations against Cook via an indefinite suspension without pay.

Now we’ve hashed and rehashed this incident to death here. Before I even continue on, let me give a gentle warning here to everyone. I get this is a very sensitive issue- innocent until proven guilty, domestic abuse, and even racial topics (which personally I think play absolutely zero part in all of this) have all been sources of heated debate that has either bordered the line or at times crossed over it in earlier discussions.

So let’s cover a few things here before commenting. First, yes, in the United States, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and Chris Cook has yet to be proven guilty. We ALL understand that here. However, second, the evidence isn’t looking pretty. Now, Cook did tweet yesterday that "there are two sides to every story". He also tweeted an apology to Viking fans, his teammates, coaches, the Vikings ownership, and his family. (I then tweeted him, I felt politely, that we fans would like to know what the other side of the story is. Have yet to hear back… not holding my breath.)

So, if someone expresses that they think he’s guilty based off of the evidence, that is their right. It is also your right to disagree. Just keep it civil, folks, and avoid personal attacks. I’m not kind with comments in my stories- when I outline rules, I am quick to remove comments that break them. Also, we all agree here that domestic abuse is disgusting and very, very rarely permissible. When, exactly, is it permissible? When a woman threatens a man physically with a knife or a gun… and that’s about it. (Quite frankly, even then strangling is going a little far. I can understand striking in that instance, or pinning her down, but strangling, unless you genuinely believe that killing to protect your own life is truly the only recourse, still is a bit extreme.) And FYI, that’s no longer really ‘domestic abuse’ in that instance, is it? (Well, it is from the woman towards the man.)

And let’s keep race out of it here. I get it, Cook is black. Quite frankly I don’t believe even racist police officers would attempt to pin something as provable/ disprovable as strangulation on a high profile figure. If something unfortunate like that were occurring, I do believe they would be going with more vague charges. But let’s just say you truly believe that race is playing into it… that’s your right to your opinion, and you’re free to voice that much, but unless someone here actually says something racist, please don’t accuse them of such. In fact, if there IS a racist comment, don’t reply- flag the comment, contact Chris/ Ted/ Eric, and it’ll be handled. (Not to mention, as I said above, I won’t let it be visible very long. Feel free to email me even if I don’t get it soon enough.) I guarantee that if someone posts something actually racist, they are a troll, and you’re going for bait by even replying. Take the steps listed above and they’ll be gone. We all know this is a well-moderated blog and the Ban Hammer of Justice strikes swiftly when needed.

NOW, that necessary rules and guidelines for a civil discussion and/or debate have been outline, let’s actually get to a football story, shall we? Join me after the leap of faith.

So, let’s recap. Chris Cook was arrested for domestic abuse and strangulation, a felony in the state of Minnesota. He has been charged, and while he is free on bail, his court obligations (including specifically not leaving the state) still would limit his ability to participate as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, on top of it all, the Vikings have again suspended him without pay indefinitely while the matter gets ‘sorted out’. The NFL has announced that they are looking into the matter as well.

Personally, I don’t think anything else will be happening for a bit, not until more happens in the legal system. Typically, Rodger Goodell lets these issues work out in the court system before making a decision regarding league action, and I’m not expecting the Vikings to do any differently. As of right now, there’s by and far no definitive time table for when, exactly, this will ‘work itself out’ in court.

And while Cook has stated that there are two sides to every story, he’s yet to really elaborate. According to the AP, this is the only statement really made in that regard by him or any representative of him:

Cook’s attorney, David Valentini, told reporters his client was "of course" remorseful and "not happy" about the situation.

"He’s upset that he was sitting there. He’s upset he missed the game. And he’s upset for the whole incident," Valentini said.

So yeah, that’s obviously still a bit vague. We could have a back and forth regarding the wisdom of making statements or attempting to clear things up. Me, personally, I always believe that if you’re genuinely innocent, or if there’s actually a logical, good explanation for your actions, you should get on a bullhorn and announce it. However, there is a valid argument for the converse, wherein some people believe that anything you say will be turned and twisted against you, and that generally you’re better off saying nothing. Again, I respectfully disagree, but that said I can certainly understand that argument.

Now, what all does this mean for the Minnesota Vikings? Outside of us having the highest rate of arrests since 2000 in the NFL, of course. Well, the first is obvious- we’re without our best DB for a least a good little while. We don’t know how long, but we logically shouldn’t really be expecting him to even be available to take the field for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. Assuming, of course, we’d even want him to take the field.

There’s eleven weeks left in the season, barring post-season of course. Let’s say its four weeks before this is even resolved via the court system. Let’s further say Cook avoids jail time- which, while some have claimed is the likely scenario in a guilty sentence, but I’m not entirely sold on just yet. (Sometimes, high profile individuals make great examples- honestly, if Plaxico Burress got jail time for an admittedly stupid and very dangerous mistake, I’m wondering how Cook will avoid jail time if found guilty.) Even if he’s found innocent, we could argue the four week timetable. Now, let’s say the league imposes a suspension for four games. MarkSP18 has said two, I’m thinking six along the lines of Roethlisberger, so we’ll meet halfway here. That’s a minimum of eight weeks out of eleven missed, which means he would be available should we so desire for the last three games of the season.

What do the Vikings do in that situation? Waive him, claiming the ‘morality’ clause? Now, I’m not saying I’m against that in principle… I’ve espoused that if Bernard Berrian and Bryant McKinnie were both cut for essentially the crimes of bad attitude and laziness, not cutting Chris Cook for a guilty sentence in a domestic abuse/ strangulation case will send a very bad message to the team. However, I’m wondering if that’s still the best choice.

We’re not going to the post-season, by the way. I know, it sucks, and I don’t want to admit it, but I think we can all look ourselves in the mirror and say very honestly that that’s the truth. So, do we waive Cook when he returns, let him get picked up by another team for free, serve his suspension, and then join them? Or do we keep him around, let him serve his suspension with us, either have him on the field for three games, or at least attempt to impose a further team suspension and face the wrath of the NFLPA?

Now, as to why we would opt for the second- I say we keep him around as trade bait. Chaosg pointed this out as a possibility, and I like it. We’ve been letting a lot of players go, either to waivers or FA. Sydney Rice, Randy Moss, Bernard Berrian- there’s three guys at a single position we could have ostensibly gotten something for in different circumstances that we’ve just let go or seen walk away. Bryant McKinnie and Ray Edwards are the same. Meanwhile, we’re trading away picks for busts like Moss and Donovan McNabb. Quite frankly, I’m sick of being on the wrong end of trades.

Chris Cook will net something in a trade, especially if we let him serve any suspensions with us, so that he can go to another team scott free. Cook has proven too valuable a player- in terms of skill as well as the cost (a second round pick, 34th overall) to just let go for nothing for our trouble.

Furthermore, we won’t be sending a wrong message that way. It’s just smart business, not us accepting his actions. Who cares if he even becomes a sourpuss over the situation- we’ll have been without him for eight weeks, we can just deactivate him if he’s too much of a headache for the last three. And three weeks likely won’t be enough time for him to become a real locker room cancer, especially if he’s gone in the offseason. Not to mention, the four key leaders on defense- Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield, Kevin Williams, and EJ Henderson- likely wouldn’t let the situation get out of control anyways.

If we swing a trade for Cook in the offseason, I truly believe we can get at least a second rounder (not a first rounder in all likelihood, but maybe a second plus a lower round), or maybe just a straight trade for another key area of concern- O-line, another DB, WR. He’s a talented, young CB, and teams will believe he’ll ‘reform’ for them. Heck, the Patriots might be a key suitor- they could use some help on defense, and are known to take ‘trouble children’ and get great production out of them. Not to mention, they’re typically stocked with draft picks, so they probably wouldn’t even blink over trading a few away. Of course, that’s just one scenario.

Before I even conclude this- yes, it was written entirely with the concept- not presumption- that he will be found guilty. Before you go off, consider it a ‘worst case’ scenario. I’d love for this all to be some silly misunderstanding and Cook gets an innocent verdict (while, mind you, actually being innocent). But from a realistic standpoint, with all we’ve heard, that’s probably not the case. But yes, he is innocent until proven guilty.

What say you, fellow Viking fans? If Cook is found guilty, do we outright release him, or keep him around for whatever remainder of the season he’s available for so that we can trade him in the offseason?