Friday, October 14, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: I agree with Strib Ed Board

Couldn’t have said it better myself:

Vikings show disrespect to state

Respect is something that professional athletes say they crave, both on the field and on the street. You hear the word a lot. To have respect is perhaps an NFL player's greatest yearning.

Yet, if the latest allegations are true, the Vikings players who engaged in lewd behavior on two Lake Minnetonka cruise boats last week showed no respect for their teammates, coaches, organization, fans -- or for the citizens of Minnesota who, like it or not, find themselves inextricably linked to the Vikings' national brand.

How do you explain lap dance to an 8-year-old who loves wearing her purple jersey to school? How do you account for nude women mingling in the crowd, then getting sexually occupied with players on the decks? How do you react when your waitress daughter is trapped on a boat, forced to fight off aggressive propositions from hulking, drunken football players? Real respect runs both ways. You don't get it by threatening vulnerable people or urinating on people's lawns.

We are not prudes about this. What consenting people do behind closed doors is their business. But this wasn't like that. The cruise line never expected this kind of party. After only 40 minutes the boats were ordered back to shore not because things happened to get out of hand, but because someone had planned it that way.

Perhaps the NFL should end the pretense that football players are role models, worthy of the adoration that goes with caps, shirts, TV commercials and the other trappings of fandom, and market them simply as violent entertainers, expensive gladiators whose careers could end at any point and, therefore, shouldn't be expected to behave as anything other than arrogant fatalists with no sense of decency or mutual respect.

But we are not that cynical. Instead, we hope that the team sets out to repair not only its image but its reality. Zygi Wilf, who may already regret paying $600 million for this zoo, shouldn't hesitate to clean house if the allegations are true. The new owner may have the opportunity to lead, something coach Mike Tice has failed at.

Wilf should fire any players found to be implicated in misconduct aboard the boats. What happens on the big lake cannot stay on the big lake if the safety and integrity of innocents were jeopardized. After 20 years on the police blotter, it's time to resurrect a team that, we hope, has finally hit rock bottom and whose only remaining path is upward. Football players don't have to be Boy Scouts, just reasonably good citizens.

Most tragic is this disgraceful episode's impact on Minnesota's governor and legislators who wake up every day looking for excuses not to do things.

It's understandable that the Vikings stadium project has now been set back months, perhaps years. It's unfair if the Twins ballpark and University of Minnesota football stadium are tarred by the same brush. What happened on Lake Minnetonka has nothing to do with them. Those teams have earned the respect of Minnesotans. Atonement has not yet arrived for the Vikings.
(Souce: Star Tribune, Oct. 14, 2005)


At 11:39 AM, Blogger R-Five said...

Until now at least, the Governor and Speaker of the House have been looking for reasons to call, not avoid a Special Session. But this scandal and the Gophers loss to Wisconsin have extinguished the last hopes - I hope.


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