Salty 'Pepper

Denny Green has survived a lot of controversy in the past because of the loyalty of his players, but if reports on Daunte Culpepper are true, he may have seen the end of the line as Vikings coach.

The rumor spread like wildfire Saturday night around the Vikings, as word moved that Daunte Culpepper's knee may be much more serious than previously diagnosed and that the blame is being laid at the feet of Dennis Green.

VU has been told that Culpepper's injured knee may have a ligament tear that could not only shut down his 2001 season, but may sideline him for part of the 2002 season -- most ligament tears take a full year to heal.

While most at Winter Park were silent on the matter Saturday, VU was told that the blame is being directed at Dennis Green if the injury is more serious -- a major charge that Green, perhaps fearing for his own job, forced Culpepper into action against Pittsburgh when Culpepper had said he didn't think he could go because of the pain in is knee.

VU will follow up on this development, which we're being told is one that has Culpepper extremely angry since he's playing for his first huge NFL contract and that may have been jeopardized by being forced back onto the field.

When the matter becomes public, it will be one of the first times a player has directly bashed Green -- the sign that typically ends up with a coach being dismissed. VU will follow up on this story later today.

SUNDAY NOTES
* There is a lot of buzz that the Vikings may be the first victims of the Lions today. No team has ever gone 0-16 in the NFL and, looking at the schedule, the Lions' last legitimate shot at beating someone could be the banged up Vikings today or the hideous Cowboys in Week 17.
* The last teams to threaten the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs season of futility at 0-14 were the 1980 New Orleans Saints, who started 0-14 and finished 1-15 and the 1986 Indianapolis Colts, who started 0-13 before winning their final three games of the season.
* When Randy Moss speaks or lashes out, people listen. The Vikings received a letter from Sen. Dean Johnson DFL-Willmar, who sponsored the bill to look into building a new stadium for the Vikings. He said that Moss' actions have made it much more difficult for him to persuade his constituents to build a stadium -- typical political rhetoric, but something that has to be on the mind of Red McCombs. Perhaps it's time for McCombs to put a leash on Moss and tell him to shut up before he costs the team more than a win, but costs them a stadium.

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