The furor over unnamed players being quoted in a Chicago Sun-Times story about their dislike and lack of respect for Brad Childress has made the latest ripple in the never-ending saga that has been the 2010 season for the Vikings. From the delay in getting a commitment to Brett Favre to the A-Team abduction and return of Favre to the delayed surgery on Sidney Rice to the on-again, off-again Favre message scandal to the signing of Randy Moss and his subsequent release to a dust-up between Chilly and Percy Harvin. It seems like nothing is off limits and the circus has become more of a freak show.
Jared Allen said the distraction is significant only because it takes away from the focus the players ordinarily have. They are, by design, creatures of habit. They practice at specific times that are almost identical from week to week. They have meetings at the same time of day in mirror images throughout the season. Variation from the norm is unusual. There has been nothing that could fit the term "norm" about the abnormal 2010 season.
Allen addressed the most recent attention-grabber –six unnamed players and at least one team insider claiming to varying degrees their dislike and lack of respect for Childress. It is a distraction for a team trying to find focus in the 2010 season.
Allen said the players are about fed up with the news stories that have swirled around them and made them a franchise akin to a car accident that rubber-neckers and lookie-loos slow down to gawk at. He said each player has to find his own way to block out the distractions and keep their minds on the job at hand. In fact, it's become so absurd as the stories pile one atop another that it's become something of a running joke among the players.
"When it's all said and done, it's just focus on what you can control, and what you can control is your attitude and your effort," Allen said. "We have a mature locker room here. We make jokes out of most everything, just sit back and laugh at the things that are supposedly said or not said."
Allen said that the distraction, if there is one, has been the product of the media attention to the Vikings issues. He added that, as a player, the best he and the other players can do is not to get caught up in the drama. If they do, it could end up torpedoing their 2010 season.
"You can't avoid answering the questions about it, but if you let it bother you, what good does that do?" Allen said "You can either win in spite of it or let it ruin your season. As a player, I can control what I can control. I can control whether I show up for work, what I do when I get on the field and the effort and the intensity I can bring to the field and the work ethic that I contribute. If each player takes care of what they can do, now you've got a whole accumulation of guys. That shouldn't bother you. People are going to deal with bigger things in their lives. You're going to deal with bigger dramas around the league, more than this, so you've just got to put it aside. If you're that weak-minded and let it affect the way you play, then this probably isn't the business for you."
With the news stories continuing to surface on almost a daily basis, there have been far fewer questions asked about the Vikings offense, defense and special teams and more about off-field issues. The most recent furor, which is suspected of being the result of a fracture within the locker room over the decision to release Randy Moss and the rumors that owner Zygi Wilf considered firing Childress and keeping Moss, was such a media sensation that it couldn't be avoided when media spoke to players prior to the Arizona game. Allen said the team came together to block it out and stay away from the media circus – up to and including either declining interview requests or making themselves scarce during the times when the local and national media have locker room access.
"The only distraction is the media that keeps making it," Allen said. "The fact that we have to answer questions about all the other stuff versus what we're doing to prepare for our game. Other than that, control what you can control. I think our parents taught us that when we were little. Some of this stuff just isn't our business. Some stuff is between Zygi and Coach and that's where it's going to stay. I don't get paid to worry about who gets released. It's not my job. My job is to focus on what I can do to help us win football games and I think when we all put our focus the same way, we show signs of being really, really good and when we don't we shows signs of being out of touch and out of sync. If we're sitting here at 5-3, we're not having those conversations. When you're losing, things get illuminated and when you're winning, little things just seem to go by the wayside. Everybody is looking for a reason to try and turn this thing around and the reason is in this locker room. Everybody has just got to worry about what they can control and go out and play football."
In the end, Allen said he and his teammates are trying not to pay attention to the controversy that has been created and said he has no idea when or if the storm over Winter Park is going to stop. He said it doesn't really make a difference how the team gets its job done during this critical stretch of the season and has no clue if the boiling pot is ever going to simmer down.
"I don't know," Allen said. "Honestly, I don't even read the paper. I heard about all this stuff when I come in from everybody else that saw (accounts of the story). It is what it is. If you've got something to say, say it. If not, there are some things too that should be kept in-house. There are some things that (the media) don't need to know about. Be honest. It's just hoopla is what it is. It should have no effect on that football game out there because of the fact that 22 guys are going to be on the field at one time and the best guys are going to win, so prepare yourself and all this other nonsense shouldn't have anything to do with it. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you work here. The coach is here. The game still has to be played. So I'm trying to make sure I don't get fired. That's what people's mentality should be. It should be do my job, control what I can control, shut your mouth, let your pads do the talking and let's move forward and let's make this season a success."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Allen: Players need to focus on their jobs
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