Dr. Z sticks up for McKinnie
When Paul Zimmerman of CNNSI.com predicted the Vikings for Super Bowl stardom in 2008, it elicited plenty of fan reaction - most suggesting Dr. Z was off his rocker.
Zimmerman got lots of feedback from readers recently and continued the Q&A with some comments regarding his bold prediction.
Slipped into the midst of the vast discussion the initial piece has created was this question and answer: "Larry of Maple Grove, Minn., disagrees with my evaluation of Bryant McKinnie as a forceful left tackle and sees many errors there," Zimmerman's latest rebuttal states.
"Three years ago I thought he was a stiff. Two years ago I thought he had really improved. Last year I thought he was regressing a bit," Zimmerman writes. "I felt the coaches had allowed him to fall back into bad habits. I asked Childress about him specifically. He said he's poised to have the year of his life, and mentioned a few indications of why he felt that way. I believe the coach."
Reading between the lines, I think McKinnie is well aware that he's at a crossroads in his NFL career to some extent. The writing is on the wall that he is going to have to step up and deliver this season.
The threat of a league-imposed suspension still looms, but once McKinnie is on the football field, his focus on being the best he can possibly be is likely to be as high as it has ever been. He is hungry and he is motivated to succeed. He realizes he is no longer on scholarship and is not going to continue collecting his rather hefty paycheck if he does not perform.
Childress has proven he doesn't have much tolerance for bad character guys, yet he has stuck by McKinnie. Some might say it's simply because he doesn't have any other options at left tackle. To some degree, that might be true. But there is also something different about McKinnie. He's really not a thug or a bad guy. Like him or not, Childress has shown a good read on players when it comes to the character issue. To me, it's telling that he is predicting "the year of his life."
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