Venus and Mars

In our tabloid world, news of young Hollywood gone wild has received more coverage than presidential candidate debates. So is it newsworthy that Bryant McKinnie and tennis star Venus Williams are an item? It's making the national TV shows, so apparently it is.

With a slow news period for the Vikings, the talk has turned to the tabloids, where people like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan make news not because of anything professionally they do to advance their careers, but the drunken, drug-fueled partying that seems destined to ruin their careers.

If the coverage of Hilton's recent out-of-jail-back-to-jail saga means anything, it's that America is transfixed on gossip and that clearly someone cares about whether she has to do time or not. In that same vein, the national media has picked up on the latest love connection – that of Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and tennis star Venus Williams.

The two are apparently an item – to the point that they were a topic of discussion of Tuesday's ESPN program "Pardon the Interruption" – where the requisite commentary about the "Love Boat" had to be recycled in discussion of McKinnie, a reference to his role on the boat at the center of the Al and Alma's scandal.

Celebrity dating seems to be a topic of more than passing conversation in the sports media. Tom Brady gets his girlfriend pregnant and stories swirl that there might be a second Brady Bunch baby on the way from another woman. Is this news? No, not really, but we're becoming a tabloid society that obsesses on the voyeuristic elements of society that made Anna Nicole Smith a much bigger star in death than she ever was in the train wreck known as her life.

The question now is whether McKinnie will fly to England to watch Venus play at Wimbledon. That would be a site to see, because typically the crowd shot of the significant other at a tennis match is usually a twiggy blonde sitting in the stands as the supermodel arm candy of a men's tennis player. The strawberries-and-cream crowd might not be ready for a 6-8, 340-pound boyfriend sitting in the "significant other's box." But if he does go, it should continue to make news.

* The Vikings released wide receiver Randy Hymes to make roster room for linebacker John Kerr, who was signed earlier in the day.
* Word out of Jacksonville is that David Garrard was called in to meet with head coach Jack Del Rio and was told the Jags are going to be making news by pursuing Daunte Culpepper. At least it's nice to hear your career may be in shambles from your coach rather than reading about it in the local newspaper. With oft-injured Byron Leftwich a free agent after this season, the Jags might keep four QBs on the roster if they can sign or trade for Pepp.
* The Bears signed former Viking Obafemi Ayanbadejo Tuesday, giving the Bears two members of the Ayanbadejo family on the roster. Good look to anyone covering the Bears on typing in those names on a regular basis. No offense to Femi, but there were members of the VU staff that wanted him cut just so they wouldn't have to misspell his name with such frequency.

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