Can You Feel The Love?

As we celebrate Valentine's Day -- if you forgot, you still have time -- it seems the Vikings are pitching woo around the day devoted to love.

Valentine's Day is upon us, but it is no surprise to anyone at Winter Park, where the Vikings are considering this time Wedding Week in Vikingsland.

Last Friday Matt Birk got married in a packed International Market Square ceremony with at least 500 in attendance. Both bride and groom live in the Twin Cities, hence the required large venue for the nuptials. On Saturday, running back Michael Bennett got in the act and ended his rookie NFL season by tying the knot.

Not to be outdone, this Saturday linebacker Kailee Wong is getting married in a very small and informal ceremony on a private San Diego beach. The wedding is said to have a Hawaiian theme and VU has not confirmed if Don Ho has been contacted or will be in attendance.

As one VU staffer cursing over seeing prices jacked up twice as high on roses said Wednesday, the love never ends when you are wearing purple -- unless you're Prince.

VALENTINE'S DAY NOTES
* The NFL shocked some at Winter Park by rescinding a $15,000 fine levied to Tennessee's Brad Hopkins for a chop block on Willie Howard that destroyed his knee. While some members of the Vikings training staff believe that Howard can return by midseason, VU has been told by sources on the coaching staff that there is a chance Howard may never play again -- a tough blow if the guy who caused it doesn't have to shell out a dime.
* The family of Korey Stringer filed papers this week asking the pending wrongful death lawsuit trial to remain in Hennepin County. Last week, the Vikings asked that the charges be dismissed altogether and, if they are not dropped, be moved to Blue Earth County -- the jurisdiction in which Stringer died. The family has countered that, since most of the defendants live in Hennepin County and Winter Park is located in Hennepin County that it is the logical site for the trial to take place.
* Daunte Culpepper is expected to be at Winter Park today to have an evaluation done on his injured knee. VU is being told his recovery is going well.
* Green Bay has continued its stance that it is not interested in Cris Carter. A VU source with the Packers confirmed the team is looking to sign a veteran free agent WR, especially if Antonio Freeman balks at a major pay cut, and names have been mentioned -- Germane Crowell, Willie Jackson and Michael Westbrook to name three -- but Carter hasn't been mentioned once.
* The Houston Texans conduct their allocation draft next week and, as reported by VU last week, the team expects to take as few as 15 players. While some e-mailers chimed in that the Texans had to take at least 30 players, that's wrong. They have to take EITHER 30 players or 38 percent of their available salary cap space -- which the Texans believe could be done with as few as 12 players. While some sources have said the Texans may have an interest in Brad Badger or Robert Tate, the name we're hearing is Troy Walters, who would come very cheap and give the Texans a return man in the same mold as Jermaine Lewis, who the Texans intend to take also.

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