Sunday slant: McKinnie disrespects the honor

About 13½ months ago, Bryant McKinnie was upset he didn't make the Pro Bowl. Now that he was voted for that honor he disrespected it with, at best, a lack of communication and participation.

What a waste.

Whether it was a misunderstanding or not, Bryant McKinnie once again didn't handle a situation well and wasted his first Pro Bowl opportunity. He was dismissed from the NFC Pro Bowl team for not practicing on Friday and Saturday. McKinnie claimed via his Twitter account that he "withdrew" because of injury. The NFL disagrees, saying he was dismissed because of "unexcused absences from practice."

"Had 2 withdraw from Pro Bowl! I've been playing thru pain the last month and need time 2 let my body heal," McKinnie tweeted on Saturday after news broke that he was dismissed from the team.

McKinnie tweeted about a party he was attending on Thursday night and Friday morning, and then didn't show up for practices on Friday and Saturday.

"I never said I didn't go out! But I do have some on going injuries that I spoke 2 the trainer about last nite on the phone," McKinnie wrote in a series of Saturday tweets.

"And the ppl who have been following me should already know my body was feeling bad late in the season cause I've said it a numerous amount of times. Getting a massage, getting in the cold tub and all the other things I have 2 try 2 do. I was trying 2 push myself 2 play n this game and I thought my body would start feeling better the later we got in the week. So yesterday I called my agent and said I don't think I will be able 2 play. He called and got in touch with the trainer, the trainer called me last nite and I told him what was bothering me. We ended up missing each other and that was that."

"Last nite" would have been Friday night and that doesn't explain why he couldn't have showed up Friday to divulge his injury situation or simply made a phone call to the coaching staff or even one of his teammates that were practicing on Friday. Instead, it took news of him being "dismissed" before he responded to his two-day absence.

He wasted other players' respect for the game.

McKinnie was posting tweets on Thursday night and Friday morning about a party he was attending at the Mansion Nightclub in Miami. It was two years ago that McKinnie got in trouble for his involvement in a fight outside another Miami nightclub. He avoided jail time by entering a diversion program, but the league had already suspended him for four games to start the 2008 season.

When I talked with McKinnie about not being selected for the Pro Bowl 2008, he was frustrated by the process.

"I just don't look at this whole Pro Bowl thing as reality, because sometimes guys don't make it because they're playing good. They just make it because they've been there before. Whatever, I don't care. I really don't," McKinnie said in December 2008. "I used to care, but I don't care (any) more. … I've seen people who went who missed half of the season and didn't play all that good."

It's time for McKinnie to face reality here. He's been in the league eight years and was fortunate to finally get into the Pro Bowl. Considering his comments from 2008, you might think he would take the honor this year and make the most of it. He did the exact opposite.

That won't help him if the Vikings decided to part ways his enormous frame and even bigger contract. Who could blame them if they do?

He was part of the team's embarrassing Love Boat incident years ago and then added to it with his involvement with that fight outside a Miami nightclub. Since then, he has claimed to have matured, but this latest incident shows a lack of responsibility.

If the Pro Bowl meant that little to him, then decline the invitation and let someone more deserving and more appreciative go. Injuries are a legitimate excuse not to play, especially with it being one week after the Vikings' last game, but since McKinnie accepted the invitation and then obviously didn't get his injuries communicated to the right people in a timely manner, his NFC squad teammates might have to play with only two offensive tackles.

Other players pull out of the Pro Bowl every year because of injuries, but they do it on time for others to accept the honor and they don't miss practices without talking to their coaches.

McKinnie's absence from practices this past week doesn't directly affect the Vikings since their season is done, but it's another embarrassing mark for McKinnie and, by association, the team. So what should the Vikings do?

If left tackles were easy to come by the answer would be easy and it likely would have come a year or two ago. If this would have come on the Vikings' dime and they were to cut him, they don't have an obvious replacement on hand. Artis Hicks is McKinnie's backup, but he's an unrestricted free agent and doesn't have the natural talent of McKinnie, which still hasn't been fully cultivated. Phil Loadholt split time between left tackle and right tackle in college, but his feet might not be quick enough to handle a switch to the other side.

But there is the money part of the equation. While it's not known right now how much of McKinnie's base salary is guaranteed, which is really what matters in an uncapped year, he has been paid handsomely on potential. He signed an extension in 2006 that has him signed through 2013 and averaging $7.1 million over the first five years. He thanked his agent at the time, Ben Dogra, by switching over to Drew Rosenhaus last year.

If you are willing to give McKinnie the benefit of the doubt and believe that he pulled out because of injury, at the very least he needed to let his coaches and teammates know before he skipped practice. If you are skeptical of McKinnie's explanation, you can just put it in a line of bad decisions he has made that have become public over the years.

Either way, his words from December 2008 when talking about frustration for not being voted to the Pro Bowl ring extremely hollow now.

"Some people, when they don't know who to put, especially offensive linemen because we don't have any stats, they're like, ‘Alright, who went last year? Alright put him there.' If you don't have any stats, it doesn't really matter," he said at the time.

"Yeah. I've been an alternate three years in a row. Same position. I don't even really care."

Even after he was voted in this year, his actions say he didn't care.

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