StarTribune.com

April 2009


It’s not Vikings related but …

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

As many of you know, Comcast and the NFL Network have been on the outs in recent months and it appeared earlier today that the network could be taken off the cable system at midnight tonight. I’m guessing many folks who read this blog get Comcast so this bit of information from the Associated Press should be good news.

PHILADELPHIA — Comcast will continue carrying the NFL Network even after their contract expires at midnight tonight, as negotiations continue.

Comcast was set to pull the plug on the football network starting Friday.

“Comcast and the NFL are engaged in productive discussions toward a new agreement for NFL Network carriage on Comcast,” the cable TV operator said in a statement.

Comcast and the National Football League are in a court battle over Comcast’s decision to put the NFL-owned channel in a premium sports tier rather than in a lesser-priced service package that has more viewers.

Comcast is the biggest cable operator in the state with approximately 550,000 subscribers in Minnesota and into western Wisconsin. 

Bills dragged into StarCaps case

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Each time Chip and I conduct a chat we get questions about the legal case involving Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams and where things stand in their quest to avoid four-game suspensions for taking dietary supplements that are banned by the NFL.

Well, there’s an interesting twist. The Williamses plan to subpoena the Buffalo Bills to produce documents about the supplement known as StarCaps. Pat Williams played for the Bills from 1997 to 2004 and attorney Peter Ginsberg, who is representing the Williamses, said last week during a hearing that StarCaps were ”freely distributed” in the Bills locker room and that “a number” of players on the team used the product.

The Buffalo News ran a statement issued by the Bills on the subject. “We have never heard these allegations, and we are not aware of anyone representing the Bills distributing StarCaps, an over-the-counter weight loss supplement, to players. These allegations were made by an attorney and not by any players.”

A trial in the case is set for June 15 before federal judge Paul Magnuson. The Williamses are suing the NFL for $10 million in damages.

A look at the Harvin pick

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Check out this bit of video from the Vikings website for a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s selection of Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin from Saturday and Sunday.

 

Harvin and the NFL’s substance abuse policy

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

The fact Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin reportedly tested positive for marijuana in February at the NFL’s Scouting Combine means he almost certainly will begin his career in Stage 1 of the league’s substance abuse program. But what does that mean exactly?

The key question for Vikings fans is would another positive test trigger a four-game suspension of the multi-talented wide receiver whom Minnesota drafted with the 22nd pick of the first round on Saturday? After looking at the NFL’s policies, the answer is no.

Harvin can be tested as frequently as the NFL wants for 90 days once he is entered into the program, but if he tests positive again he would be subject to a fine (that would not be made public) that would be 3/17ths of his base salary and then quietly moved to Stage 2 of the program. Harvin also could be moved to Stage 2 if he has not been complying with the program. 

Remember, compliance, among other things, means submitting to tests whenever the NFL’s medical people decide they want to conduct them. It is only after a strike in Stage 2 when you officially know a player is in the program and that’s because a player is then subject to suspension and a fine of 4/17ths of his base salary.

So the short answer is that Harvin is on strike one and a suspension would not come until after strike three.

 

Report: Jets targeted Harvin, too

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

The Vikings ended up drafting Percy Harvin with the 22nd pick in the first round of Saturday’s draft, but they weren’t the only team that wanted the explosive wide receiver from Florida. Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman detailed in his Monday column how the New England Patriots wanted Harvin, and now Clark Judge of CBSSports.com reports the Jets wanted Harvin enough that they offered Philadelphia a package of draft picks to move up to 21st.

The Eagles, though, made their own trade to move up to the 19th spot so they could get wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who surprisingly was still around at that point. The Jets had offered the Eagles four draft picks, including two in 2010, according to Judge.

Agent says Favre not planning to return

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Brett Favre’s agent told ESPN.com on Wednesday that his client has no plans to end his retirement, despite the fact the quarterback’s request to be released by the New York Jets was granted a day earlier.

“He’s retired, he doesn’t have any desire to come back, and that’s the way it is with Brett,” Bus Cook said. “He’s mowing his grass. He’s working on his farm. He enjoys that stuff.”

Cook told ESPN he made an initial request for Favre to be released after the season as just “the order of business,” adding “Brett wants to retire as a Packer and that’s just part of it.”

Favre wanted to play for the Vikings last year after the Packers declined to take him back following his retirement in March 2008. Green Bay would not release Favre because it didn’t want him joining its archrival in the NFC North and eventually traded him to the Jets.

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