Culpepper Involved in Locker Room Fight

In the moments following the Vikings win over Pittsburgh, team security swarmed into action -- not to stop visitors from entering the locker room, but to break up Daunte Culpepper and tight end Shonn Bell.

The emotions of the Vikings 2001 season were already at edge, but, in the minutes following the Vikings win Thursday night over Pittsburgh, they boiled over in the locker room.

As the media descended from the press box into the locker room area, Vikings security personnel suddenly burst into action. The problem? Quarterback Daunte Culpepper and first-year tight end Shonn Bell were in an altercation that led to chairs being tossed aside and food flying from the post-game meal table.

Following the altercation, one Vikings security guard was short of breath and appeared in need of medical attention, but neither player was injured. Security quickly sealed off the entrance to the locker room, forcing players to use an alternate locker room entrance and players like Cris Carter, who had led a post-game prayer at the 50-yard line, was locked out until order was restored. Even after the incident, team employees who are typically allowed in the locker room were banned from the area.

Bell burst out of the locker room a couple of minutes after the incident, followed by coach Mike Tice. Neither Bell nor Culpepper would comment to VU about the situation, but it did put a damper on the home opening victory.

FRIDAY NOTES
* The Vikings came out of the game relatively injury-free -- if you don't count the postgame buffet table. DE Fernando Smith suffered a shoulder stinger, but it isn't expected to be too serious. Meanwhile, linebacker Fearon Wright sustained a sprained ankle.
* Both RB's Moe Williams and Harold Morrow sat out Thursday's game as a precaution.
* Many of us at VU were afraid that if University of Minnesota cornerback Willie Middlebrooks was available when the Vikings made their first round pick, they might be convinced to go for him instead of Michael Bennett. Fortunately, Denver beat the Vikings to the punch and took Middlebrooks. Bad news for Denver is that he still isn't fully recovered from a broken ankle sustained his senior year with the Gophers and the team is considering placing him on injured reserve.
* Word is that the Vikings are still concerned about the ineffectiveness of Todd Bouman in the first two games and the team in considering bringing in a veteran QB if one becomes available when other teams make their cuts. One name that was thrown out as a possibility was Rodney Peete, who is likely to get cut by Oakland, or Ryan Leaf, who is probably on his last leg with the Buccaneers.
* Former Viking John Burrough visited the St. Louis Rams, who are looking to replace injured DE Cedric James, Thursday. VU has been told by Rams sources that Burrough may be signed as early as today, since James is lost for the season with a hip injury.
* The Hacksaw Hamilton saga continues. After resigning from pressure from the NAACP as the play-by-play commentator for the Vikings after just one game, Hamilton is pointing the finger directly at Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald writes for the small newspaper The Minneapolis Spokesman and wrote a column about Hamilton's alleged racist comments. Fitzgerald is also a friend of Dennis Green's who has more access to the coach than a lot of the reporters for larger media establishments and Hamilton claims it was Fitzgerald who wanted -- and got -- him fired. In a Thursday interview in the Los Angeles Times, Hamilton described the situation as, "I've been killed by a black reporter with an agenda."

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