Purple Stain

Securities scams, karaoke-bar brawls, and the occasional boozy ride: At least there's one championship the Vikings might be winning

 

PLAYER: James Harris

POSITION: Defensive end (1993-95)

STAT SHEET: A part-time starter in his three-year stint with the team, Harris was demoted to a backup role in 1995 following a decline in his performance attributed to off-season foot surgery.

SCORE: 3

RAP SHEET: The 260-pound lineman pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in 1995 after breaking his wife's nose and collarbone in what his agent termed a "mutual scuffle" in the elevator of their Eden Prairie apartment building. Fined $3,000 and sentenced to five days in jail, Harris was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. As part of the plea bargain, Hennepin County prosecutors dropped a bigamy charge against Harris: He had neglected to get a divorce from his first wife (whom he had also been convicted of beating in 1992). In 1997, after catching on with the St. Louis Rams, Harris was indicted by a federal grand jury as the money man in a cocaine distribution ring. He won an acquittal in court and landed a starting job with the Oakland Raiders--a team that has built its reputation on bad-boy reclamation projects.

SCORE: 7

MITIGATING FACTOR: Obviously confused.

SCORE: 0.5

PSI: 9.5

 

PLAYER: Keith Henderson

POSITION: Running back (1992)

STAT SHEET: Henderson was signed as a free agent by the "new sheriff in town," in head coach Dennis Green's inaugural season. The bruising 240-pound fullback, who played under Green in San Francisco, was the Vikes' fourth leading rusher in his sole season with the team, racking up 113 yards and one touchdown.

SCORE: 1

RAP SHEET: Less than a year after his career with the Vikings came to an end in 1992, Henderson was charged with first-degree sexual assault for allegedly raping a waitress from a Mall of America bar in an incident that left her pregnant and, in a separate incident, attempting to rape a 17-year-old he met on the set of the sports film Little Big League (who, as it happens, reached an out-of-court sexual-harassment settlement with the film's star, Timothy Busfield). Henderson was arrested again in May 1994, this time for allegedly raping an acquaintance he'd met at another 494 nightspot. In 1995 Henderson pleaded guilty to reduced charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the three cases. He was sentenced to six months in jail and ten years probation, during which he must register as a sex offender. According to Pros and Cons, a waitress who worked at yet another I-494 bar subsequently came forward and claimed that Henderson had attempted to rape her in 1992; after she rebuffed him, she alleged, Henderson complained to the restaurant, which promptly fired her.

SCORE: 10

MITIGATING FACTOR: None, but at least the fired waitress was reported to have obtained a payout from the restaurant.

SCORE: 0

PSI: 11

 

PLAYER: Warren Moon

POSITION: Quarterback (1994-96)

STAT SHEET: When the Vikes signed the former Oiler and Canadian Football League legend, Moon looked to be just what the doctor ordered: a cool, strong-armed veteran who could lead the team to playoff nirvana following unsuccessful experiments with a succession of journeymen QBs. In 1995, his best season as a Viking, he set team marks for passing yardage (4,264), touchdowns (33), and completions (377). But his statistical glories didn't translate to a winning record as the Vikes went 8-8, the worst finish yet in the Dennis Green era. After a series of flat performances the next year, Moon lost his starting job midway through the season.

SCORE: 6

RAP SHEET: The 1989 NFL Man of the Year saw his once-spotless reputation--and a possibly lucrative career as a broadcaster--go down the toilet shortly after he came to Minnesota. In 1994 a fired Vikings cheerleader sued Moon for sexual harassment. Among other things, she alleged that a randy Moon had asked to sip tequila from a glass placed between her legs. Within days after the allegations became public, Moon issued strongly worded denials. Moon and the Vikings, meanwhile, quickly moved to have the lawsuit sealed and then reached a confidential agreement with the ex-cheerleader. But Moon's troubles weren't over: In the summer of 1995, the onetime highest-paid player in the league allegedly choked and struck his wife, Felicia, following a row over her credit-card use. Summoned by a 911 call placed by the couple's seven-year-old son, Texas police arrested Moon and he was charged with misdemeanor assault. Despite public expressions of contrition--he told People that "Yes, this was a case of domestic violence"--Moon fought the charges in a jury trial and was acquitted after Felicia Moon changed the story she originally told police, testifying that her injuries might have been self-inflicted.

SCORE: 7

MITIGATING FACTOR: All work and no play makes Warren a bad boy? According to an interview with the New York Times, the veteran QB--who spent the 1999 season as backup with Kansas City--said he discovered something about himself during counseling: He lacks hobbies.

SCORE: 0

PSI: 13

 

PLAYER: Orlando Thomas

POSITION: Safety (1995-present)

STAT SHEET: Thomas led the team in interceptions in his first two seasons (9, 5), but his production has dropped off following a season-ending knee injury in 1996. Despite losing a step, he remains an above-average player on a below-average defense.

SCORE: 5

RAP SHEET: In August of 1999, Thomas pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of simple battery for what he later euphemistically described as "this incident with my wife." Given a six-month suspended sentence, Thomas was also ordered to pay $600 in fines and court costs and to attend domestic-abuse counseling. In 1997 Thomas was arrested outside a bar in his hometown of Crowley, Louisiana, and charged with one count of inciting a riot and two counts of disturbing the peace. After pleading guilty to a single count of disturbing the peace, Thomas was fined $50 and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.

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