Pepp E-mails, Vikes Mum

The Vikings introduced Fran Foley to the media Thursday, but he did little in the way answering questions at his press conference while Daunte Culpepper used an e-mail to discredit published reports.

The new look at Winter Park continues to have all the makings of a military operation, as Major Brad and the crew continue to remain silent on just about any topic relating to football.

On the same day that published reports noted that the Vikings were actively seeking a trade for Daunte Culpepper and were apparently willing to accept as little as a second-round draft pick in return, Foley's regimented meetings with the local media unearthed little if anything about the team's plans.

Foley told VU and and the other assembled media types that the team will no longer discuss its football business in public -- ranging from talking about Culpepper to even giving a hint what positions the team might look at in free agency. Even the question of "what's for lunch?" might be construed as football business if it happened in the Winter Park cafeteria.

For his part, Daunte Culpepper, who remains in seclusion in Florida, responded to Thursday's reports via e-mail sent to several media outlets. In his statement, Culpepper reiterated that he expects to be with the Vikings, although he failed to address the claim that he asked for an additional $8-10 million this season and attempted three times to have his contract re-worked before being flatly denied in late January.

What Culpepper did address is the trend of using anonymous sources in stories -- an argument that led Culpepper to effectively boycott one Twin Cities newspaper because its news division (not sports) printed the list of 17 Vikings that were on the ill-fated cruise boats in October. At last check, no current or former Vikings have filed suit that they were incorrectly identified as being on the boat and, seeing as Culpepper was charged with a crime, it's quite apparent that he was on the boat -- even if he was just riding shotgun. In his statement, Culpepper said that these anonymous sources are the lowest of the low.

"I have found over the years that 'people with knowledge of the situation' are usually the most ignorant," Culpepper said in his statement, "and 'anonymous sources' are usually synonymous with cowards who don't want to go on the record."

For the record, Culpepper has denied numerous interview requests to clear the air and give his side of the situation and with the current lockdown on information from those in power in the new Winter Park regime, the only way to get any information is to cultivate sources that will speak under the condition of anonymity.

Most of us in the Minnesota media actually prefer to serve as something akin to a public relations arm of the story. Speaking for myself, I refrained from using the term "Love Boat" to describe October's incident because I thought it was demeaning and inappropriate. I hated having to reprint lurid details laid out by the investigators of the incident, not because I didn't think it was newsworthy, but because I have kids that I would prefer not learn about the "Cover 2" from a scandalous news report.

I believe the film "Cool Hand Luke" said it best when the line was uttered, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Culpepper has been hard to track down in recent months and it has been nearly impossible to get anyone at Winter Park to confirm that the sun rises in the East. Maybe that's how work was done in Philadelphia, where they have a judge under the stadium and their fans have been compared to soccer hooligans with bad seats and bad attitudes. But that isn't how things work here. Fans want to know what's going on with the Vikings, even if it is little more than lip service, cliches and stale platitudes. Something is better than nothing.

Will we find out if there is validity to the trade rumors? It would seem only if we contact the other teams being rumored to be a trade partner. That's unfortunate. With Zygi Wilf unveiling a plan for a new stadium that will require some state money to put in the needed infrastructure improvements, he needs all the goodwill from fans and legislators that he can get. Dropping the Cone of Silence around the Triangle of Authority won't harbor that goodwill he seeks. Hopefully, in time that will change. But until then, we have to rely on e-mails, rumormongering and fishwife gossip to try to get to the truth.

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