ESPN Shows No Love For Vikes

ESPN, the self-claimed world leader in sports, took a chance this weekend to give the Vikings a double-shot of abuse -- blasting the team for its handling of Brian Russell and the City of Minneapolis.

ESPN wasn't kind to the Vikings this weekend. In a pair of stories posted on the network's website, little nice was to be said about the Vikings or Minnesota.

In one story, a columnist claims the reason the Vikings gave Brian Russell a one-year, $380,000 deal for a veteran with two years experience was that, according to the writer, the Vikings weren't convinced Russell is as good as his numbers would indicate. It went so far as to claim that many of Russell's interceptions came on tipped passes, overthrows and deflections -- implying that anyone could have made many of those interceptions. The claim was attributed to someone high up with the Vikings, which seems a little hard to swallow, since the team couldn't have been happier with Russell's performance last year and didn't target safety at all during the draft -- despite talent being available nearly every round at the position.

In another story, an ESPN writer whose stock and trade is baseball writing helped get Minneapolis named as the sixth most tortured sports city. The writer cited nothing but Vikings shortcomings, only briefly mentioning other sports. Considering that the Timberwolves are in the NBA's final four, the Wild made an improbable run to the NHL's final four last year and the Twins are the two-time defending A.L. Central champions, how tortured can Minnesota fans be? Try New Orleans or Atlanta or Cleveland for sports towns in peril. Aside from the 1998 Vikings, fans in Minnesota really have it pretty lucky -- not tortured.

* Former Vikings wide receiver news No. 1 -- Cris Carter is in town this weekend for the Timberwolves-Lakers series. Carter continues to run his training compound in Florida and is currently working with rookie wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
* Former Vikings wide receiver news No. 2 -- Buster Rhymes' checkered post-NFL career appears likely to land him in jail. After several previous incidents, which include auto theft, assault of a police officer, drug possession and other bizarre events (like swerving at a school bus and jumping out of his car), Rhymes hit the bad boy jackpot this last week. Rhymes was driving the wrong way on a Minnesota highway this week and, when alerted by a motorist calling 911, state patrol officers had to run Rhymes off the road. Prior to running him off the road, an officer said he saw Rhymes taking a bump off a crack pipe.

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