Bennett Part of P.D. Identity Theft

2003 is a year for to forget for Michael Bennett. After suffering through a serious foot injury and shots fired at his S.U.V., VU has been told that an Eden Prairie Police Department officer has been attempting identity theft of Bennett and other Vikings.

On most police cars, the phrase "To Protect and Serve" is emblazoned on the sides. That has come into serious question, as a part-time security officer for the Vikings and an Eden Prairie police officer has been charged with identity theft concerning Vikings RB Michael Bennett.

Charges were filed Wednesday against officer Brent Griffith, who was a former draft pick of the Buffalo Bills. VU has been told the following:
* Griffith, who has lived in the small town of Benson, Minn., was under investigation for the past three weeks.
* Bennett alerted officials when he received confirmation of credit card applications while at training camp.
* Griffith was found in possession of not only items like tax records and credit card application materials of Bennett, but also of Vikings players Daunte Culpepper, Lance Johnstone and Hunter Goodwin.
* Griffith did part-time work as a contract employee of the Vikings at Winter Park, which allegedly gave him access to personal information on Vikings players.
* Griffith was identified on a surveillance tape at a Benson convenience store where he paid for gasoline on a credit card issued in Bennett's name.

The Eden Prairie Police Department is conducting its own investigation and, while the evidence appears damning in the case, Griffith will receive due process. He is currently on paid leave from the department until the end of the investigation.

* Coach Mike Tice said Wednesday that the best pass rusher he has seen so far this season is linebacker Nick Rogers. He hinted that Rogers may find himself more in the nickel rotation as a designated pass rusher. He is currently in the starting lineup replacing injured LB Henri Crockett.
* Maybe it's the Denny Green school of coaching talking, but does this sound familiar to Vikings fans? VU was contacted Wednesday by a Jaguars beat writer for comment. New coach Jack Del Rio stated that "all (starting) positions are up for grabs" -- a line heard from Green several times. What does it mean? The starters are still starters, but someone will lose his job and possibly even be cut -- guaranteed.
* Two years ago, the Vikings made a strong pitch to acquire DE Michael McCrary from the Ravens. The deal never came through, which turned out to be a good thing. A Ravens source of VU's told us McCrary will announce his retirement from the NFL today following a series of injuries.
* It looks like RB Larry Ned won't be able to make a favorable impression on coaches this week vs. the Raiders. Ned, who sustained a concussion in practice, is expected to miss Friday's game.
* ESPN football analyst John Clayton listed a pair of teams Wednesday that could be the surprise teams of their respective conferences. The Ravens were his AFC team. In the NFC? You had to know it would be the Vikes or we wouldn't be talking about it.

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