Can We Talk?

The Vikings have imposed something of a lockdown on media reporting of the team, limiting access to assistant coaches and not being forthcoming with injuries to players out of fear of giving an opponent a competitive advantage. Such issues are running throughout the league, to the point that the league itself is stepping in and changing injury reporting and media access policies.

The local media have had their share of issues with the Brad Childress regime, ranging from lack of access to coaches to the team believing that accurate reporting of player injuries is somehow a slap in the face that gives an opponent a competitive advantage. However, the Vikings are far from alone in this regard. It's become a problem leaguewide that has resulted in rules changes to bring the league to a level playing field.

The league is preparing to impose new media policies that address such problems. As it pertains to head coaches serving as the primary or sole conduit between the team and the media, the new rules will require that teams have regular and reasonable access to assistants for media interviews. While a head coach may want to run the show, he can't preclude the media from getting access to assistant coaches to get a second or third opinion on team-related matters.

Another facet of the media policy concerns how teams address the weekly injury report, which has become a joke to the extent that Tom Brady has been listed as probable with a throwing shoulder injury for three straight years, yet has never missed a game – or even looked slightly injured. The new policy will look to curb the bending of the rules, taking some of the leeway away from coaches and requiring a more honest reporting system.

Under the new rules, teams must include in the daily injury reports on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday whether a player missed practice, took part in only a portion of practice or fully participated in practice. The listing of practice time played will come in addition to the increments of playing possibility – out (0 percent), doubtful (25 percent), questionable (50 percent) and probable (75 percent plus).

While coaches like Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan may be more affected by this than the Vikings, it strikes a blow for fairness to the media types who try to cover the teams and takes away the injury loophole that has made reporting of injuries such a joke over recent years.

NOTE

* The Vikings released cornerback Sergio Gilliam, a recent rookie free-agent signing from Clemson.


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