Former Viking Suspended

Former Viking Dale Carter faces an uncertain short-term future after being suspended Thursday by the NFL for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

A lot of teams around the NFL were leery of Dale Carter when he hit the free agent market. While the Vikings wanted to keep Carter, once New Orleans stepped up with a huge contract the Vikings bowed out.

On the day he signed with the Saints, a source with the team told VU that his contract -- seven years, $35 million -- wasn't actually that steep. Because of his drug suspension for more than one year, VU was told the contract Carter signed had a two-tiered signing bonus as a precautionary measure in case Carter fell in disfavor with the league once again.

Apparently someone was listening. On Thursday, Carter was suspended by the league for violating the substance abuse policy. While the infraction, according to a Saints source of VU's, involved drinking "three beers" after being signed by the Saints, once a player is in the league's program, any substance, including alcohol, that isn't a prescribed medication, is viewed as a violation of the policy.

Carter's blood alcohol level at the time of the test was said be "very low" -- in the range of .06 (less than the legal level of intoxication). While seen as a minor infraction, Carter has become a poster boy for a tough stand by the league.

In 2000, Carter was suspended for one year for violating the drug policy and, even when his time was up, the league waited several weeks before allowing him to return to the NFL.

The Saints believe the infraction will result in potentially a 2-4 week suspension, which would be critical for a new player trying to catch on with a new system with a fat contract in his back pocket. But, if the league continues to make an example of Carter as it did last year, anything may be possible.

* Hennepin Court District Judge Gary Larson denied a motion by the attorneys for Kelci Stringer for access to medical documents tracing back 40 years for a history of heat-related medical illnesses with Vikings players. While seen as a victory for the defense team for the Vikings named in the suit, Larson added that players who suffered heat related illnesses since 1995 -- when Korey Stringer joined the Vikings -- should be made available to the Stringer attorneys to decide for themselves if they want to make any documents of their cases available to the attorneys.
* Vikings medico Fred Zamberletti said he intends to cut back on his duties with the team. He is the longest tenured employee still with the team, entering his 42nd year with the team. Zamberletti has been on the sideline for an astounding 848 consecutive preseason, regular season and postseason games with the team.
* The inventor of the Lambeau Leap -- Packers safety LeRoy Butler -- announced his retirement from the game Thursday. While Butler will be missed by his NFL brethren, considering how many big plays he made against the Vikings, you can bet the Vikings offense won't miss seeing him on the other side of the field.

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