Networks Stir QB/WR Controversy

The national media is having a field day with the perceived rift between Vikings franchise players Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, despite denials from both players and coach Mike Tice.

A day after Mike Tice and Randy Moss both went out of their way to say that Daunte Culpepper's blowup on the sideline directed at Moss was no big deal, the questions still remained. Despite strong words to the contrary, the media wouldn't let it go – especially the TV monkey.

Armed with a video of the incident slowed down to JFK assassination speed, FOX Sports' Best Damn Sports Show Period and ESPN's all-day coverage of the non-event were both pointed. On FOX, the incident was compared to the Cris Carter meltdown from a year ago on a different FOX broadcast. This time they said that Culpepper has essentially lost his mind and that he and Moss are at each others throats. Not true.

They can be excused for their oversights because, like the FOX Sunday studio show, it's supposed to be directed at the sports fans who enjoys "Hee Haw" and the "Ernest" movies in between NASCAR races and doses of headache powder. But ESPN's was perhaps the meanest slice of all.

With a reporter at Winter Park, ESPN contended on its regular sportscast, as well as it's Monday Night Football preview show, that there is a problem brewing. Despite comments to the contrary by Tice and Moss Sunday and Culpepper Monday, ESPN stuck to rumor-mongering that "insiders" are saying there is a problem. Culpepper did his part to dismiss that Monday.

"It was just frustration," Culpepper told VU. "Everyone is making a big deal out of that (sideline altercation). There is no reason to make a big deal of it."

On ESPN's Monday show, Sterling Sharpe, who is now a member of the media after never granting interviews as a player, made a point to chime in blaming the Randy Ratio. He believes the Vikings are forcing the ball to Moss to get to the ratio numbers whether he's open or not. All four of Culpepper's interceptions were thrown at Moss. Sharpe went on to question Moss' work habits on each of his catches. Apparently his exhaustive tape study failed to see the plays where Moss made a pair of excellent blocks to spring plays – something he was criticized for last year.

So, if you continue to hear rumors of Daunte hating Randy or turmoil among the players over the incident, don't buy into it. The team is frustrated by losing three games they should have won and three games in which they led in the second half. If there was more of a story than that, we'd be all over it. But the simple fact is there isn't. If the losing continues, there may well be a rift developing. But for now, the team is united in trying to get the first win of the season.

* The word wasn't good Monday following Talance Sawyer's knee operation. More damage was found in the knee than expected and he is going to be out a minimum of six weeks and could possibly be put on injured reserve.
* The Vikings were going to sign LB Antonio Wilson Monday to replace injured Henri Crockett, but the team is awaiting more confirmation on the rehab time needed for Sawyer to see if he can be placed on injured reserve or if the team will have to cut loose another player from the roster.
* In a disturbing note from Monday, VU got access to a list of the teams with the most consecutive losses to close out the season. Among those was Carolina (3-0), which had lost 15 straight, New Orleans (3-0) which had lost its last three, San Diego (3-0), which had lost its last seven and Oakland (2-0), which lost its final three. Of that group, only the Vikings, which lost their final four games, remains winless.
* Word continues to circulate that Moe Williams will get more playing time at RB. While Michael Bennett remains the starter, Williams was contemplated as getting the starting nod last week, but Bennett remained the starter. Look for Bennett to likely need a very strong start to remain in the Seattle game for more than a couple of series. If he doesn't come out strong, look for a platoon with Williams and Doug Chapman.
* Tice called Carolina coach John Fox Monday to apologize for his refusal to shake hands Monday. Tice declined to comment on the matter, but a VU source with the Panthers said Fox was surprised by what happened. That's because his team was only up by seven points, faced a fourth down and didn't have what he deemed enough time to run out the clock and potentially give the Vikings a chance to tie on a Hail Mary. Apparently Fox and Tice, who have been friends for years, mended their fences quickly.
* Word out of Seattle is that John Randle practiced for the first time Monday and is hoping to play vs. the Vikings Sunday. However, if he isn't near 100 percent coach Mike Holmgren will likely save him, because, like the Vikings, the Seahawks have their bye week following the Sunday's game.
* It would be interesting if Tice got his first win against Seattle, the team he played 10 years with in the NFL.

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