Say What?

Minnesota Vikings

If this wasn't our lead story, it would be prefaced that it came from the "Monkeys Fly Out of Our Butt" Department, but Jeff George will be in town Sunday. Why? Read on, McDuff.

Jeff George has carried a bad rap in the NFL ever since he his hometown Colts took him (against his will) as the No. 1 pick in the 1990 draft. However, when he was with the Vikings, the VU staff -- primarily Game Day reporter John Holler and columnist Adrian Hallsey -- loved the guy. He had a rifle arm and didn't bring any of the bad karma to the Vikings that dogged him during his previous NFL career.

Yet, when Denny Green yanked his dignity by offering his job to Dan Marino, George left for Washington. In D.C., he ran into old-school slappy Marty Schottenheimer, whose dink-and-dunk passing philosphy was a round peg/square hole fit with George. His reputation continued -- although unjustified from personal experience by VU.

Flash forward two years -- minus two weeks. A couple of weeks ago, VU paisan Paul Allen, Vikings radio voice and host of a morning sports radio talk show in the Twin Cities, was in e-mail contact with Mike Tice. Half-jokingly, he brought up George. Tice responded in usual Tice fashion -- brutally honest. His reaction to George was similar to getting an e-mail asking if the Vikes were going to sign "Emmanuel from Utah."

Flash forward two weeks. As hard as it may be to believe, George will be in town tomorrow to talk deal with the Vikings. Whether it gets done or not is irrelevant. Tice has shown once again that the NFL is not "show friends" it's "show business." Why he's coming is explained below, but as VU capo Tony Parker said last year at the draft when Tice admitted he would have taken WR Josh Reed if Buffalo hadn't, "The kid talks too much." Touchdown Tony was right, but VU still loves George -- even if nobody else does.

SATURDAY NOTES
* Why is George coming in? For the second time in two days, a free agent accepted less money to play with someone else. QB Shane Matthews, who VU reported earlier this week had a two-year deal on the table with the Vikings for more than $2 million, signed a one-year deal with the Bucs for $800,000. In addition, a source close to Neil O'Donnell has told VU that the Vikings have officially ended any and all conversations about a contract -- just move on, baby. With both of them out of the picture, George is now opposing Gus Frerotte -- two guys who washed out in Washington. But, then again, so did Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson and they played in the Super Bowl last January -- and the Redskins traded draft picks to the Vikes for both of them.
* Lost out on free agent bit No. 2 -- despite signing Denard Walker, the Vikes were interested in Green Bay CB Tyrone Williams. He signed with Atlanta Friday.
* In other Packers Suck news, LB Nate Wayne signed with the Eagles Friday, leading more speculation that 9-7 may win the NFC North -- and 6-10 would be good enough for second place again.
* Another former Packer is Billy Lyon. His deal called for no signing bonus. If he makes the final roster, he gets a $400,000 kiss. Other than that, his three-year, $2.3 million deal has no baggage. If you get Pro Wrestling Torch, you may want to pass along that he is no relation to Billy Red Lyons, who, along with Red Bastien, ruled the tag-team world of the AWA before future Governor Jesse Ventura hit the scene.
* From the Killer Segue Department comes this: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota named former State Sen. Roy Terwilliger to head the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. While in the Legislature, Terwilliger was a strong proponent of stadium initiatives, which is good sign for the Vikings in their effort to get a hug from the state on their plans for a new stadium.
* In more gnashing of teeth news, the Vikes lost out on LB Barry Gardner, who signed with the Browns. Last month, the Browns cut all three of their starting linebackers, including Dwayne "Chuck the Helmet" Rudd.
* VU has been told with Orlando Brown signed with the Ravens, that Mike Rosenthal is the top choice on their free agent board -- which gets names erased daily. That said, the Vikes have started talks with journeyman jobber Jerry Wunsch -- last seen in Seattle.
* As expected, the deadline for signing Jim Kleinsasser passed. The odds of him signing between now and July 15 -- if he does, the Vikes surrender the franchise tag for the duration of his contract -- are as likely as "People" magazine listing Lurts as one of it's Most Beautiful People of 2003. Not that Lurts isn't fetching, but it ain't happening.
* VU continues to hear that, with the threat of war and the lack of support of U.S. allies in Europe, the usual enthusiasm among players to toil in NFL Europe is at an all-time low. VU reported last month that a plan is in place to play the Artist Formerly Known as the World League in the southern U.S. this year -- give San Antonio a taste of pro ball. With each passing day, concerns are mounting. The plug may get pulled for 2003.

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