That Dog Don't Hunt

At a time when the Vikings running backs corps is already depleted with the loss Onterrio Smith, some "Chicken Little" reporting of a non-story Thursday may well have some Vikings fans believing that the sky is falling.

The hot story on Twin Cities TV Thursday night should have been reserved for sweeps week. The story? A rental car under Daunte Culpepper's name was found to have a handgun in it. Was it Culpepper's? No. Whose gun was it? Michael Bennett's.

While the immediate reaction was to call Bennett (and Culpepper) into question, what was seemingly lost in the short-term memory of those who seek ratings points in lieu of accuracy was not the car, but what was 13 months in the rearview mirror.

The gun in question was Bennett's, but he provided the authorities with a permit – legal in Minnesota – to make the story a non-issue. But, facts have a hard time intervening in the way of a good story.

Culpepper, who was on his way to Florida and simply dropped off his rental car at the airport, wouldn't have neglected to take the gun out had he known it was inside. He's clear. But what the local media seemed to miss was that, if any Viking had a legal right to carry a gun, it's Bennett.

In 2003, Bennett was the victim of identity theft by a Vikings contract employee – a police officer hired to provide "security" for the Vikings. In 2004, Bennett's vehicle was shot at after a May 12 incident outside Club Cancun – a Twin Cities nightspot – in which Bennett had his wallet lifted by a woman who posed as a fan/admirer.

There's no telling if this story will hit the national press or not, but, from this vantage point, this is a non-story and one that, if ratings and hype are discarded, won't pass the smell test.

FRIDAY NOTES
* "You Remember Randy? Episode One" – In a recent interview, former Vikings WR Randy Moss claimed Kerry Collins is a better overall field general than Culpepper. This has become a good news, bad news situation. The good news is that Moss is speaking – and speaking highly of his quarterback. The bad news is that Moss used to play in the NFC, where three different teams with few viable options said "thanks, but no thanks" to Collins.
* CBS Sportsline is seemingly very excited about Moss being the No. 1 jersey sale among football fans. In its merchandise sale section, it proudly proclaims (complete with explanation point) "Moss Is A Raider!" on its website. It can only be assumed that a "Collins is God" T-shirt is in the offing.
* Another precinct heard from: Athlon's annual football preview picks the Vikes to win the NFC North, but, going out on a limb, picks the Eagles to beat the Falcons to win the NFC title game (a solid pick six months ago, but not so certain six months from now).

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