As the Vikings resume practice today, there will be changes in the routine, but there will be three…
Fines Coming...Suspensions Too?
The incident has led to finger-pointing from both teams -- the Vikings claiming several Packers tried to injure them following a Darren Sharper interception as time ran out and the Packers saying the Vikings are sore losers who took cheap shots themselves.
Also in the middle of it were Chris Hovan and Brett Favre, who were each fined $5,000 for actions in the first meeting between the teams at the Metrodome. Hovan maintains he went to congratulate Brett Favre, who apparently returned his actions with an obscene gesture. Hovan then wanted a piece of Favre and appeared to flip the bird to Packers fans -- bringing down garbage and other sundries the fans hurled from the seats. Hovan said his index fingers were part of his gesture.
If history and Bryan Cox are any indicator, giving the finger to fans is an offense that will draw a fine, but that may be the least of the problems.
The brawl that erupted happened right in front of the Vikings bench and several players and perhaps even coaches and organizations in general will be subject to fines. VU has been told that two players in particular -- the Vikings' Jim Kleinsasser and Packers LB Cleditus Hunt -- could both face a one-game suspension. Kleinsasser left the bench to take a shot at the Packers' Marques Anderson, while Hunt came all the way across the field while the play was still live and was looking to take a shot at any Viking in his way.
The type of hits that were made surprised some, since the Packers' entire 2002 season has been changed since a cheap shot by Warren Sapp on OLT Chad Clifton ended his season. However, the war of words in the border battle isn't over. This one won't be forgotten by either team and the next time they meet, there will be payback. However, before then, there will be payback to the league -- in the form of fines and potential suspensions. VU is told the league could act as early as today with handing out the penalties.
* Lost in the furor of the postgame melee was the severity of the calf injury suffered by middle linebacker Greg Biekert. He was placed in an immobilizing boot/walking cast Monday and is likely going to be used sparingly in practice. If he can't start Sunday, Jim Nelson will take his place.
* The Vikings aren't the only team heading into Sunday with injury questions. The Saints have said starters QB Aaron Brooks, RB Deuce McAllister, G LeCharles Bentley, CB Dale Carter and LB Darrin Smith are all questionable. However, VU has been told by a Saints source that, considering the playoff logjam, all four are expected to play Sunday.
* Only 11 of the league's 32 teams have been eliminated from the playoffs and nine of them (including the Vikings) are from the NFC. The only team that still has a chance to move up into a playoff spot in the NFC is the New York Giants. If the Giants lose Sunday, it will put the Eagles and Saints in the playoffs, and a win by Atlanta over hapless Seattle would fill out the NFC playoff roster.
* The only two AFC teams eliminated from playoff consideration are Cincinnati and expansion Houston.
* Who do you believe at ESPN? On the broadcast version of the network, an NFL insider said Mike Tice isn't in jeopardy of losing his job, while their top internet insider said he's "on thin ice." Let the rumors begin.
* In an interesting statistical note, the teams that have won the turnover battles this year (of which the Vikes have done rarely) have won 85 percent of games this year. That winning percentage is the highest in a season since 1959.
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