Define Unsubstantiated?

Red McCombs

In Friday's on-line edition, ESPN is reporting what VU said a month ago to the scoffing dismay of most local media -- that Red McCombs and Glen Taylor have already agreed to a sale of the Vikings. However, ESPN has taken it a step further.

It took almost two weeks for the rest of the football world to confirm what VU had reported the night of Super Bowl XXXV – that Robert Smith was retiring. It seems that it has taken a little longer to confirm – or is substantiate? – what VU reported more than a month ago, that Red McCombs has sold the Vikings to Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.
In an update Friday on ESPN.com under the heading "Unsubstantiated Rumor of the Week," an ESPN columnist said that not only have McCombs and Taylor already agreed on the sale, but that it has already been approved by the NFL. The rationale for the silence is that, with a pending stadium deal coming before the State Legislature, the league doesn't want the announcement made until the end of the season – if not later. While the story says that all parties involved deny the rumor, the same answer was given to VU when the story first broke.
You can decide for yourself who you wish to believe. The same helmet-haired TV talking heads and 117-year-old newspaper clowns who pooh-poohed the Smith retirement have done the same on the sale of the Vikings. However, the more people who know about it, the harder it will be to keep the secret.

SATURDAY NOTES
* As if Michael Bennett's ankle injury wasn't bad enough, Moe Williams was limited in practice Friday with a foot injury that could cut down on a lot of what the Vikings had planned for him. If Bennett wasn't 100 percent, Williams was expected to be the lead back in the offense. Now, not only may he be restricted to just short-yardage duty, he has been taken off the kick return team. Tyrone Carter is now expected to return kickoffs Sunday.
* Guard David Dixon was added to the injury report Friday after his hip flexor injury flared up. Mike Tice said if the game had been Friday, Dixon wouldn't have played, but added he's hopeful he can make it Sunday. If he doesn't, it will snap a 69-game consecutive starting streak and would likely lead to a platoon of Everett Lindsay and Cory Withrow in his place.
* When will Terrell Owens ever learn to shut his big mouth? As much as players like Randy Moss and Keyshawn Johnson are criticized for comments they make, Owens is without peer in being a complete moron. Remember the near bench-clearing brawl that led to a one-game suspension when he celebrated on the Dallas Cowboys midfield star? Remember him calling out coach Steve Mariucci for not understanding what a player goes through? Remember the Sharpie incident on a Monday night game in October – a staged performance in which he had a marker in his sock ready to sign a football to give to one of his financial advisers in the stands? Well, he's at it again.
In the latest edition of ESPN: The Magazine, Owens intends to take some serious shots at Dennis Green. But, to prove his point, he took shots at Moss instead. Green, now a talking head for ESPN – and a popular talking head – was quick to jump on the Sharpie incident on the Monday night game vs. Seattle, saying that Owens "disrespected the game" by doing such a selfish act. How did Owens respond to the magazine (which is also in the ESPN family)?
He didn't tear into Green, who has been rumored to be a frontrunner if the 49ers and Mariucci part company, by pointing out his playoff failures or the unraveling of his team last year. He went after his drafting of Moss. Two quotes stand out. The first said, "I'm not the one with a rap sheet. Randy has one." The second was, "I've never taken a play off or not blocked. I guess walking off the ball and not blocking anyone like Randy does is respecting the game, huh coach?"
Maybe Owens should learn that it's better to have people think you're a jack than repeatedly opening your semi-educated pie-hole and removing any doubt. If he wants to attack Green for his comments – like referring to him and ESPN's Tom Jackson as "white black dudes" – go ahead. But there was no call to get Moss involved and just further proof that, regardless of his individual talent, Owens was, is and will always be nothing more than a punk who will never be the best receiver his team has ever had, much less one of the all-time greats.
* The last time the Falcons had a record as good as their current 7-3-1 mark was in 1998 when they went to the Super Bowl. However, it should be noted that from 1999-2001, the team had a record of 16-32.
* From the Sammy Davis Jr. "Ouch, Babe" Department comes this: In the last 30 games, the Vikings have a record of 8-22. That's the same as Cincinnati and better than just two teams – Detroit (6-24) and Carolina (5-25).
* Cris Carter could be activated Sunday when Miami plays at Buffalo. However, seeing as he's not yet 100 percent after a kidney problem that sidelined him after one game, he's more likely to come back for Miami's Dec. 8 game. He will likely be in the starting lineup – barring a setback – when Miami comes to the Metrodome Dec. 21 for the home finale.
* Don't be shocked to see a lot of running Sunday. The Vikings have the top-rated run offense in the NFL and Atlanta is rated No. 4.
* The Vikings will have to adjust offensively to the Falcons 3-4 defense. What used to be a staple of the league a few years ago, less than a handful of teams employ the 3-4 as a base defense anymore.
* The Vikings' minus-19 giveaway-takeaway ratio is the worst in the league and their 13 takeaways rank 30th among the NFL's 32 teams. In 2000 and 2001, the Vikings set and then tied a franchise record with just 18 turnovers. At their current pace, they will have 18 this year as well.

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