Sunday slant: Lot of good behind the Vikings

The Vikings have endured another season with some controversy, but behind the scenes there is a lot of good happening for the community. Tis the season to recognize that.

Tis the season to turn the page from criticism to appreciation.

After a season in which the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson have come under heavy public and sponsor scrutiny, it’s time to realize there is plenty of good within the walls of Winter Park. Sometimes that gets underplayed.

With television reporters – one particular, actually – trying to play big elephant in the room for the media circus shouting questions at Vikings owners and vice presidents about how the organization could support a “child abuser” after a Week 2 game when the Vikings planned to make that the only game missed for Peterson, things spiraled out of control in a hurry. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant start to the season.

Then the injuries rolled through and a season that held some promise was knocked off the tracks without the Vikings’ superstar running back and veteran quarterback (Matt Cassel). Mike Zimmer and crew held things together on defense and Teddy Bridgewater was a pleasant surprise under duress and difficult circumstances on offense.

The future holds promise on the field, but the present was given an early holiday happening off the field.

Kevin Warren, the Vikings’ vice president of legal affairs, went public with an immensely generous, thoughtful and personal gift last week. It got a little attention, but it just didn’t hold the controversy that produces staying power in the media.

Warren is donating $1 million dollars to pilot a program that supports families hit with a diagnosis of cancer. The insidious disease was met with an incredibly generous donation in honor of the Warren’s sister, Carolyn Elaine Warren-Cox, who lost her battle with cancer less than a month after Warren was one of those being jeered when the Vikings announced that Peterson would be re-joining the team, only to have that decision reversed days later under the oppressive pain of scrutiny.

When ESPN reported that Warren was working with the NFL to keep Peterson from playing the rest of the season, he became a public enemy of fans who wanted to see Peterson back in purple. Meanwhile, Warren was working to establish his gift for those who need help dealing with cancer.

When his gift was made public, it created a conflict for those who wanted to make him the villain in the clash with Peterson. Perhaps it showed that not everything is black and white as it may appear to fans.

“How am I supposed to hate his guts now?” was the Twitter question posed to Viking Update after we published the story on Warren’s gift last week.

The answer: You shouldn’t “hate his guts.” Warren’s job is to protect the Vikings, and after seeing the backlash when they tried to reinstate him, it’s understandable that there are many layers to Peterson’s future.

And Warren’s gift to cancer families isn’t the first time he’s been extremely generous in the community.

For past three years, his family has donated approximately 2,300 backpacks filled with school supplies for the entire school year to every student at Lucy Craft Laney Community School, a school that is predominantly African-American and has 98 percent of its student population coming from underserved communities. He has also purchased basketball uniforms for the boys and girls’ teams there, along with school uniforms for some individual students. In addition, the Warren family has also agreed to design and fund the cost for an on-site computer lab at Lucy Laney that will be dedicated in 2015.

But Warren isn’t the only member of the Vikings organization to focus on generous community efforts.

  • Defensive end Brian Robison recently took 50 kids from the North Community YMCA to shop with him and his teammates at the Eden Prairie Walmart.

  • On Christmas, cornerback Xavier Rhodes is shopping for kids benefitting the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

  • Several others from the Vikings – including Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Greg Jennings, Chad Greenway, assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley and members of the athletic training staff – are adopting families in need through the Salvation Army. Those families attended practice on Saturday to meet the players and receive their gifts.

  • Greenway was just named the Vikings Man of the Year at The Salvation Army.

  • Center John Sullivan is hosting an early holiday party at the U of M Masonic Children’s hospital on Tuesday for young patients and their families, serving about 100 people. He is also purchasing gifts for every young patient in the hospital and bringing more than a half-dozen of his teammates with him, in addition to some Vikings alumni.

    There will be times that the Vikings come under fire. It happens in the high-hype times of the NFL.

    But it’s also important to know and remember that there are plenty of great people in the organization – players, coaches and staff – that are doing a lot of good for those that need it most. It extends beyond the holidays, but it’s especially note-worthy at this time of the year.

    They won’t be in the playoffs, but the Vikings have their heroes behind the scenes, even those who are criticized at times. There will be bumps in the road, but it’s a good time to throw the occasional bouquet their way for the less-publicized but more important contributions they make, too.

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