Robinson Sues Vikings

Koren Robinson's legal representatives have filed a grievance with the league against the Vikings asking for more of his contract. Citing wrongful termination, his attorneys are questioning the rationale of his release. Given the circumstances that led this release, it's not likely K-Rob's lawyer will (or should) ask for a jury trial.


Friday was a sad day for fans of Minnesota sports. The Twins were summarily dismissed from baseball's post-season party, while the Tigers – who couldn't beat the lowly Royals once to wrap up the division title – have the vaunted Murderer's Row of the Yankees on the ropes.

But, sadder than that was the announcement that Koren Robinson has filed a grievance against the Vikings to get more of his contract amount from the three-year, $12.7 million deal he signed earlier this year. Robinson's attorney, David Cornwell, apparently backed by the players' union, has submitted a claim that Robinson's release from the Vikings wasn't the result of a lack of skill on his part, which is the crux of the claim.

Cornwell claimed that the reasons given for Robinson's release were that his performance was not comparable to that of other players at his position and that his conduct was unbecoming to the team. The obvious question that should arise from those contentions is "Yeah? So?"

While legal loophole questions may serve to bolster Robinson's case, the reality is vastly different. There were some eyebrows raised when Robinson was sentenced to what is being called a 90-day jail sentence – if he actually does 30 days behind bars, that will be a shock – for a violation of his parole in Washington for a drunk driving offense. While his Minnesota case hasn't been tried, his positive test for using alcohol was viewed as proof enough for an opening of his probationary file.

Cornwell has said the Vikings' decision to release Robinson somehow usurped the jurisdiction to legislate roster control from the commissioner – who at the time was Paul Tagliabue. While perhaps on the slightest of legal technicalities he may have a legal basis for pursuing this matter, there is little chance of winning – if any at all.

The widow of Korey Stringer tried to sue the Vikings and had her case thrown out. Her husband died after collapsing on the job. Robinson is still playing professional football. Why? Because nobody on the highway in which officers chased Robinson at speeds police estimated at as much as 120 miles per hour was unfortunate enough to get clipped by his vehicle and sent into a ditch. Alcoholism is an illness. Drunken driving, in and of itself, is a misdemeanor crime. Driving at high speeds while evading police is a felony. The fact that nobody died during the high-speed August highway chase is a blessing. The fact that nobody died isn't reason enough to diminish what could have happened. Had some unsuspecting driver simply heading home from a trip to the store been hit, Robinson would still be jailed in Nicollet County.

To think that Robinson should be able to profit from his contract with the Vikings is absurd. Robinson has become a cautionary tale for many people. It can only be assumed that, if this case goes forward to trial, Cornwell will ask for a judge to determine the case as opposed to a jury. Robinson's history with the Vikings has been tied into his problems with alcohol from the outset. He was released and re-signed three times so the team wouldn't be on the hook for his 2005 deal. His three-year, $12.7 million deal also was structured in such a way that, if he didn't have a run-in with law enforcement, he would receive every dollar. He broke his end of the agreement, and much more tragic, put lives in jeopardy as a result.

I wish Koren the best in his future. As far as I'm concerned, he's been nothing but a gentleman to me in our professional dealings as reporter and interview subject. But, that being said, I would have to be excused from being a potential juror if his trial were to be decided by 12 of his peers. What he did in August was unfortunate and tragic. What his legal advisers are doing in October is sad and pathetic.

* The Vikings' stadium issue has taken a serious 180 with a pair of converging stories. The Anoka City Council voted Thursday night to sign off on a voter referendum to approve the needed 0.75 percent sales tax for infrastructure improvements to the roads surrounding the potential Vikings stadium site. With the question becoming a political football, the Vikings have been put in a wait-and-see position to see how the November elections turn out before they make a firm decision on the future of a Vikings stadium in that location. While stories circulated earlier this week that a Vikings stadium home would be welcomed at the site of Canterbury Downs racetrack in Shakopee, talks have taken place between Zygi Wilf and the Star-Tribune newspaper about land the company owns near the current Metrodome site. This story is one that will build steam after the elections and prior to the start of the 2007 legislative session.
* The Vikings sent out a short press release Friday announcing that the game with the Lions would be played at noon Sunday. There was some discussion that, had the Twins won Friday, if the team announced Carlos Silva was going to pitch today, that the same release would have been issued.
* The NFL owners are meeting later this month in New Orleans. One of the topics is going to be potential relocation of a current franchise in Los Angeles. Right now the smart money is on the Vikings and the Saints. Almost every other team in question of moving either already has a new stadium deal in place or is close.
* From the Former Vikings Department comes this: the Dolphins may sit Daunte Culpepper down this week. While coach Nick Saban said the phantom shoulder injury listed as potential cause for benching has nothing to do with his performance, Pepp has been sacked 21 times in four games. The only thing worse than that is that, if he is benched, Joey Harrington will start. That alone could change the Vegas point spread by four or more.
* From the Former Vikings Department II comes this: Michael Bennett is listed as out for this week with a hamstring problem. It can't be from an in-game injury. Thus far, Bennett has six carries for 19 yards with the Chiefs.

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